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BBC News29 June 2011

1,500 protest as Powys council urges wind farm review

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Around 1,500 anti-wind farm protesters gathered in Welshpool for what was described as an unprecedented meeting of Powys County Council.

Councillors in Powys have voted for an immediate review of wind farm policy at a special meeting in Welshpool.

Around 1,500 anti-wind farm protesters lobbied ahead of the council meeting at Welshpool livestock market.

The council unanimously supported a motion urging the Welsh Government to request a moratorium on all wind farm applications.

The Welsh Government said the motion failed to grasp that the decision does not currently rest with them.

Councillors chose to meet at Welshpool livestock mart rather than the council chamber in Llandrindod Wells so more people could witness the vote.

Large screens were erected for the protesters to watch proceedings and the council opted for a recorded vote.

15 councillors were absent and there was one abstention, but the motion gained cross-party support.

It means the authority will now officially ask for a review.

There's got to be a resounding 'no' against the principles of this sort of development in rural areas”

Peter Ogden
Director, Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales

'Resounding no'

Speaking after the vote, Peter Ogden, director of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, said: "The voice of the people has been heard, it's as simple as that.

"One would hope other authorities that are affected will take note of what has happened in Powys and follow suit and say this could happen in our area.

"There's got to be a resounding 'no' against the principles of this sort of development in rural areas."

Earlier this month First Minister Carwyn Jones said he wanted to see developments restricted.

He has also called for powers to be devolved from Westminster to Wales.

Montgomeryshire AM and Powys councillor Russell George said: "This vote sends a clear message to the Welsh Government that the people of Montgomeryshire do want a review on Tan 8.

"I hope our local MPs will now lobby their colleagues in Westminster."

The Technical Advice Note (Tan) 8 policy was introduced in 2005 as guidance on wind farms. It allows councils to decide on wind farms up to 50 megawatts in size.

'Upper limit'

Tan 8 allows councils to refuse or allow permission for wind farms up to 50 megawatts

The policy saw the government in Cardiff establish seven Strategic Search Areas (SSAs) in Wales.

The SSAs were devised to corral all wind farm development into specific areas, rather than allow turbines to be put up across Wales.

There is one area in the north and another in west Wales, two in the Heads of Valleys region and three in mid Wales.

Thousands of Montgomeryshire residents blame this policy for the 15 current wind farm applications in Powys.

If all are approved, that would add more than 600 turbines to the 216 already there.

Following a demonstration outside the Senedd last month, Mr Jones announced an "upper limit" of turbines to be allowed in Tan 8 areas.

He said his government opposed new steel pylons - planned by the National Grid - to export power generated by wind energy into the wider electricity infrastructure.

Following today's meeting in Welshpool, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: "Powys County Council do not need our permission to introduce a moratorium [on developments under 50 megawatts] within their area.

"Applications for developments over 50 megawatts are a matter for the UK Government - the Welsh Government has no role in such a decision. We have made this clear at every opportunity.

"We are surprised that Powys County Council's motion does not understand this and fails to realise that until energy consents are devolved these issues do not rest with the Welsh Government.

"Therefore, we call again on the UK Government to respect our position on the upper limit capacities in Tan 8 which we believe are proportionate.

"We look forward to their response."



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