Controversial plans for another windfarm on Denbigh Moors have been given the go-ahead by the Welsh Government.
The decision by Lesley Griffiths, the Secretary for energy, planning and rural affairs, is at odds with the recommendation of planning inspector Kay Sheffield who had upheld Denbighshire County Council’s refusal to allow the development.
Pant y Maen Windfarm Limited want to erect seven turbines near Llyn Bran, alongside the A543 road over the moors.
One of the council’s main objections was the impact on the landscape, especially from the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley area of outstanding natural beauty, 19 miles away on the opposite side of the Vale of Clwyd.
Ms Sheffield agreed with the authority that the turbines, 518 metres above sea level, would be clearly visible against the backdrop of the Snowdon Horseshoe, spoiling the view for walkers along the Offa’s Dyke footpath.
The company argued that the impact would be only “medium” and that the main elements of the view would not be affected.
Among other objectors were CADW, the body responsible for ancient monuments, who expressed concern about the effect on the view from and of nearby Bronze Age barrows, or burial mounds.
In 2008 a lengthy legal battle over plans for a larger windfarm on a nearby site at Llyn Brenig ended with the Court of Appeal finally upholding the council’s rejection of the scheme – and that was a major consideration with the present proposal.
Dismissing the latest appeal, Ms Sheffield said: “I have concluded that the development would cause harm to the landscape and visual amenity and in reaching this conclusion I have weighed in the balance the implicit objective to accept significant change to the landscape character of the Strategic Search Area (SSA).”
She said the windfarm would also have an “unacceptable overbearing impact on the outlook from the Sportsman’s Arms”.
She concluded: “On balance I consider that the positive benefits of renewable energy and the location of the site within the SSA are not sufficient to outweigh the harm in respect of the landscape and visual amenity and harm to the historic environment.”
But Mrs Griffiths said the location had been accepted in principle by the county council subject to consideration of the localised effects.
“I consider the benefits of the proposal in terms of delivering renewable energy on a site located within an SSA are material considerations which are sufficient to outweigh the identified impacts of the scheme and the balance, therefore, weighs in favour of the appeal,” she said.
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