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23/11/2015

DECC rejects NSIP wind farm in Wales

Secretary of state for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd has overturned an inspector’s decision to grant development consent for an onshore wind farm in Powys, Mid Wales, after determining that possible adverse effects on the local red kite population had not been properly addressed.

The proposal was submitted under the Planning Act 2008  as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) by developer Mynydd y Gwynt Ltd for a site at Glanrhyd, five miles west of Llangurig. The scheme included 27 wind turbines, plus associated works, with a potential energy output of up to 89.1 megawatts.

Examining inspector Philip Asquith acknowledged that the scheme would be visually prominent within the landscape, particularly from areas of the upper Wye Valley, and would thus have a significant adverse impact on landscape character and visual amenity. Ultimately he deemed that this negative effect was outweighed by the benefits of the scheme in terms of helping the government to meet its target of obtaining 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

But the secretary of state noted that during examination proceedings, Natural Resources Wales had expressed concern about the possible impacts of the development on the red kite numbers in the Elenydd-Mallaen Special Protection Area (SPA). While the developer proposed mitigation to address the issue of collision risk the NRW advised that there was no certainty that these measures would suitably protect the kite population.

Subsequently Rudd determined that the developer had not submitted sufficient information to conclude that that there would be no adverse effect on the integrity of the red kite population of the SPA, and that the proposal should be refused.

Tom Cosgrove of Cornerstone Barristers, who acted for Powys County Council during examination proceedings, said: “This decision highlights the potential pitfalls inherent in cases that have to grapple carefully with complex European legislation concerning the environment.”

Full details of this decision can be found here.

Photo credit: iStock

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