A plan to build a series of wind farms across a huge swathe of unspoilt countryside has been given the green light but the decision is being kept secret.
The proposed turbines and almost 30 miles of pylons to connect them to the National Grid are so unpopular that Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary and a Liberal Democrat MP, has refused to commit to a planning decision ahead of the general election.
According to sources, three giant wind farms, spread across an area of Mid Wales stretching from Machynlleth to Welshpool, have been agreed but will need rubber-stamping by the incoming secretary of state.
A planning inspector has recommended permission be given for the farms. They each consist of between 17 and 65 turbines up to 450ft tall – equivalent to the height of the London Eye. In all, almost 200 could be built in the coming years.
The planning inquiry, which took almost a year, was completed in May 2014 and a report with recommendations was delivered to Mr Davey, who has the final say in the projects, at the beginning of December.
But a spokesman at the Department of Energy and Climate Change said Mr Davey had “relinquished making any decision” and instead left it to his successor after the general election in May.
The spokesman said four months had not been long enough for Mr Davey to make a ruling, even though he has committed to building onshore wind farms.
A source told The Telegraph that the decision was not announced because the wind farms will wreck any lingering hopes that the Liberal Democrats had of regaining Montgomeryshire.
The constituency has been held by the party, largely uninterrupted for 100 years until the colourful MP Lembit Opik was defeated in 2010.
The neighbouring constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire, which will also be affected albeit to a far lesser extent, is currently held by Roger Williams, Liberal Democrat MP since 2001.
The source said: “Three wind farms will be given planning consent but not until after the election.
Ministers have put the brakes on this and that is why there has been a delay in the announcement. They were certainly in a position to make an announcement before the election.”
Campaigners, who have conducted mass protests against the proposed turbines, are clinging to the hope that a future energy secretary might reverse the planning inspector’s recommendation.
In an official statement, the DECC said that the wind farm applications “require careful consideration of the planning and energy policy issues involved.
“We expect decisions to be made early in the next parliament”.
Sir Simon Jenkins, the former chairman of the National Trust, said of the plan for the wind farms: “It will turn the largest wilderness area of Britain outside a national park into hundreds of square miles of power station. It is all political.”
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