Plans for a 122.5MW wind farm in Mid Wales have been withdrawn from the pre-application stage of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process because of uncertainty over changes to planning policy.
Developer Vattenfall Windfarm has written to the Planning Inspectorate asking it to de-register the Mynydd Lluest y Graig scheme, earmarked for a site near Llanerfyl, in Powys.
The firm had previously said it anticipated the project would be suitable for 25-35 turbines.
Under the current consenting regime for energy infrastructure, onshore wind farms with a generating capacity above 50MW need to be consented under the Planning Act 2008’s NSIP route.
However, the Energy Bill, which is currently progressing through parliament, would devolve determination of onshore wind schemes below 350MW to local authorities.
The measure is part of a Conservative Party election manifesto plege to “halt the spread” of onshore wind developments, and give determination powers for schemes back to local communities.
In his letter to PINS last week, Vattenfall Windpower development manager Jonny Hewett said “recent changes to planning policy” had sparked the decision, but insisted the firm remained committed to the project.
Last month energy firm E.ON withdrew plans for a 24-turbine NSIP wind development near Newton Aycliffe in County Durham, also citing changes to planning law.
A Vattenfall spokesman told Planning that once the Energy Bill becomes law, the NSIP route would be closed to the scheme.
“Our only option was to stop the NSIP process, take stock of the situation, and look at the best way forward for th Mynydd Lluest y Graig,” he said.
“We still think there’s an opportunity to develop a new wind farm there, but we’re not in a huge rush.”
From 1 March, a new Development of National Significance planning regime takes effect that will allow the Welsh Government to determine planning applications for energy projects of 5-50MW.
Once the Energy Bill is enacted, Welsh ministers – rather than local authorities – could ultimately determine onshore wind schemes of between 50MW and 350MW proposed within their jurisdiction.
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