Some of Wales’ most stunning beauty spots are being threatened by multiple micro turbines, new report warns
Some of Wales’ most stunning beauty spots are under “growing pressure” from the “cumulative impact” of multiple small-scale wind farms, says a new report.
Welsh Government policy sets no limits on onshore wind farms under 25 megawatts (MW) and smaller developments under 5MW, says a report to go before Conwy Council’s cabinet today.
But new planning guidance in the report divides Conwy into 15 “landscape strategy areas”, many of which are deemed highly sensitive to wind turbines.
These include the Cerrig Uplands, Denbigh Moors, Rhos Hills, Elwy Valley, Conwy Valley, north west Conwy coast and the Colwyn coast.
The Vale of Clwyd is also deemed highly sensitive, but the vast majority of this is in Denbighshire.
All these places contain beauty spots already designated as “special landscape areas”, where the new guidance says there is “limited” or “very limited” capacity for medium to small and micro-sized schemes.
However parts of some of the areas, including places within the Cerrig Uplands and the Denbigh Moors, have been designated by the Welsh Government as “strategic search areas (SSA)” suitable for large-scale wind farms.
But in the special landscape areas the “overriding aim” of the guidance is to avoid “cumulative effects” of multiple developments “viewed in sequence along sensitive routes”.
The report, Landscape Sensitivity and Capacity Assessment for Onshore Wind Turbine Development, reads: “Conwy comprises a diverse mix of landscapes many of which are highly valued for their great natural beauty and tranquillity – ranging from remote and wild uplands and moorlands to narrow steep-sided valleys, wide river floodplains, gently undulating pastoral lowlands and dramatic coastlines.
“These landscapes are experiencing an increasing number of planning applications and enquiries for wind energy developments under 5MW, (i.e. applications for single and pairs of wind turbines) as well as larger wind energy schemes being progressed outside the SSA.”
Existing planning policy says medium-scale wind farms over 5MW and below 25MW will only be approved in exceptional circumstances when issues like cumulative impacts, noise and shadow flicker have been resolved and they can’t go inside the SSA.
Micro schemes are only allowed outside the SSA in similar circumstances and where turbines are proportionate to the buildings they supply energy for.
The guidance will go before Conwy’s cabinet on Tuesday.
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