Cables linking windfarms to the electricity network must be run underground and not on pylons, councillors ruled today.
Conwy Council adopted its new policy amid concerns a 17km long cable between four proposed windfarms would be “catastrophic” for the Welsh countryside in Conwy and Denbighshire.
Scottish Power Manweb (SP Manweb) wants to bring in the overhead cables stretching between Llansannan near Abergele and the Clocaenog Forest in Denbighshire.
A full Conwy Council meeting heard the scheme would have needed 17km of overhead cables on 15-metre high double wooden pole pylons in a 100-metre wide “corridor”.
SP Manweb has a legal duty as the distribution network operator in North Wales to connect new sources of electricity to the network.
The company, which would manage connections for the windfarm operators, said the costs would be about three times greater for underground rather than overhead cables but it will ultimately be up to the developers.
Today, Cllr Sue Lloyd-Williams, of Llansannan, proposed a notice of motion that “Conwy County Borough Council demands as a matter of policy that all cabling running in Conwy from the North Wales Wind Farms Connection should be placed underground and not via overhead pylons.”
The four windfarms are proposed for Strategic Search Area A – one of the seven areas identified in the Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note (TAN) 8.
The planned wind farms are Clocaenog Forest (developed by RWE npower renewables), Brenig (Brenig Wind Ltd), Nant Bach (Vattenfall) and Derwydd Bach (Tegni).
The cable would link the windfarms in Clocaenog to an existing sub station in St Asaph, passing through Llansannan.
But Cllr Lloyd-Williams told the full council meeting in Bodlondeb that overhead cables would pass through ancient woodlands, historic areas and past listed buildings.
She claimed: “This will have a catastrophic effect on the rural environment. It is a matter of long term importance.
“We should vehemently stand against the use of massive pylons. This is nothing less than the exploitation of the natural beauty of Welsh countryside.”
Her proposal was backed by a large majority. Planning consent will now be decided by the Planning Inspectorate.
But SP Manweb said yesterday: “The cost of any connection for a new renewable energy project is paid for by the developer. SP Manweb has an obligation to offer the most cost effective connection to all developers, but must fully consider all environmental concerns, including visual impact.
“We are proposing to put electricity cables underground for approximately 2km between Glascoed Road, Cefn Meiriadog and St Asaph. The environmental impact assessment process will be vital in determining any additional areas where undergrounding could be appropriate. This is underway at present.”
The SP Manweb spokesman said it cost £340,000 per km for an overhead line at 2013 prices but about £1,100,000 per km for underground cables in arable or unmade ground rising to £1,300,000 per km in the case of made ground, for example, within a roadway.
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