Far reaching guideline plans for county-wide windfarms, solarfarms and renewable energy sources are open to public consultation in a process slammed by campaigners.
The Further Focussed Changes (FFC) stage of Powys County Council’s (PCC) Local Development Plan (LDP) was open to public consultation until 5.30pm on Monday, November 21
The plan outlines PCC’s development goals for the next 10 years, covering everything from gypsy and traveller sites to renewable energy development locations.
The LDP projects an additional 973 gigawatt hours (GWh) would be produced by renewable energy sources in Powys by 2026, this is potentially enough to provide 106 per cent of Powys’ electricity needs.
The plans have been condemned by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) as a “goodbye” to tourism and the consultation has been slammed as a “thicket of information” with documents “scattered at random”.
In a joint statement by Chris Fuller, Montgomery CPRW chair and Peter Seaman, Brecon and Radnor chair, they said: “And so it has come to pass: the grim reaper has taken in Abergwesyn Common, the Begwns, Pant-y-Llin Hill, Merthyr Cynog, Drum Ddu, the hills around Llandegley and Abbey-cwm-hir, Hirnant for wind energy.”
The plan aims to produce 540GWh via solar PV farms by 2026 and 665GWh via wind.
Currently, wind produces 312.7Megawatts in Powys and there are no solar farms.
The current consultation allows people to comment on and suggest changes for the FFCs, though Mr Seaman, chairman of Brecon and Radnor CPRW believes more should be done to get the public involved.
He said: “There has been no proper local consultation about this and it seems none is intended. The people of Powys are just aware of it.
“We can respond to the ‘further focussed changes’, at least we can if we can find our way through the thicket of information on the PCC website where housing and energy documents are scattered at random. Once found, they are very hard to make head or tail of.”
Cllr Avril York, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the CPRW are claiming that there has not been proper local consultation given that we have been consulting on the Further Focussed Changes within our Local Development Plan (LDP) since Monday, October 10. This is a six-week consultation.
“We appreciate that there is a lot of information within the LDP but this is a regulatory document that will guide the scale and location of development in the county when it is adopted and it is important that we get it right.”
New Welsh Government renewable energy targets have also leaped from an increase of 50mw in renewables to an amount specified in the LDP as “the county’s contribution to the national targets”.
Cllr York said: “The Further Focussed Changes are necessary in order to address previous responses made by the Welsh Government, which reflect ministerial support for local authorities across Wales to optimise renewable energy contributions through their LDPs. The local search areas have been identified following a published methodology within the Welsh Government’s Renewable Energy Toolkit.
“A great deal of good work has taken place in developing our local development plan and this further activity will strengthen it for the future.
“The local development plan will be the most important planning document we have and we are determined to ensure we have a robust framework in place. It is a policy for the long term and it important that we get it right for the future.”
For those who want to view physical copies of the FFCs, the documents are available at Powys libraries and the council’s main offices Monday to Friday.
These include: County Hall, Llandrindod Wells; Gwalia, Llandrindod Wells; Neuadd Brycheiniog, Brecon; Neuadd Maldwyn, Welshpool.
Anyone who has any queries about the consultation should contact the LDP Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01597 827460.
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