Although presented with even more objections, Denbighshire’s Planning Committee once against voted, on Wednesday (May 15), in favour of a 46m (150ft) wind turbine WITHIN the Clwydian Range AONB. The vote was 21-5.
The councillors made it quite clear during the meeting that they were unhappy that the Head of Planning had brought it back before them, despite a detailed report which gave the reasoning behind this unusual move.
Objector, Karen Roden, spoke against the scheme (her speech is below) and the applicant, Aled Morris, was also given the opportunity to address the meeting. A Council Officer then outlined why it was being brought back to the Committee. He went through all the objections and explained that their decision was a ‘significant departure’ from the adopted Development Plan, and that the AONB had the same protected status as a National Park. He then stated, ‘The application has been advertised under the relevant Order as development not in accord with the provisions of the Development Plan, with a final deadline for representations of May 22, 2013. In the event of Committee resolving to grant permission in accordance with recommendation 3(b) Officers would request a resolution on the following additional recommendations: © That subject to Welsh Government not ‘calling in’ the application for determination, and the receipt of no additional representations raising issues not already covered in the reports and late information sheets by May 23, 2013, the Certificate of Decision be released on that date.’
Prior to the vote a number of councillors spoke in support of the turbine, one making the point that there were already wind turbines of varying heights within the AONB. However, a document produced by the Officers for the meeting, made it quite clear that the existing turbines range between 9m and 23m, while the new one would be twice the height at 46m (see chart below).
Other comments which illustrate some of the councillors’ views were that this area is the ‘factory floor of the farmer’ and that it was ‘not a play area’. It was clear that this turbine’s positioning within the highly protected AONB and only 700m from the very popular Offa’s Dyke National Trail, did not cut any ice with most of the councillors. This was despite it being pointed out to them that this could well set a dangerous precedent.
At the meeting there is a 3 minute ‘slot’ in which an objector can speak. This is the ‘speech’ made by Karen Roden.
‘As with many other people, I did not object originally to this application as not for one minute did I think that this Planning Committee would give the go ahead to a wind turbine of 150ft WITHIN the recently extended Clwydian Range AONB. Add to this that it is a mere 700 metres from the historic Offa’s Dyke Path, which is walked by vast numbers of people every year, and a decision in favour seemed even less likely.
I was, therefore, shocked when you voted 22 to 2 in support of this application, particularly when you consider the guidance you received from the Countryside Council for Wales, the Joint Advisory Committee itself, the Landscape Consultant, and your own Officers, part of whose job it is to point out the possible long term effects of your decisions. However….you know all this.
I do wonder, though, whether or not this committee has fully taken into account the precedent that this decision will make if you once again vote in favour of the turbine. Even as I speak, other AONBs in Wales, as well as in England, are being looked at as possible wind turbine sites, and the decision you took last month would make a powerful argument why more schemes, such as this, should be approved. We must, after all, remember that these areas are protected by law to ensure the conservation and enhancement of their natural beauty, not just for the present, but also for future generations.
When you let this one through, you made it increasingly difficult over the coming weeks, months and years to say no to further applications.
How can anyone state that this part of the AONB is of less scenic value than say, for example, the limestone escarpments near Llangollen, or the slopes of Moel Famau? They are all within the AONB, and therefore, all equally at risk if the green light is given today to the Marian Mawr turbine.
It was only last year that Welsh Environment Minister, John Griffiths, said the newly-extended AONB would boost tourism in rural North Wales. He added: “We expect the AONB brand to bring in a significant number of new visitors to the area, to drive up tourism and to extend the enjoyment of the area’s natural beauty to a wider audience.” This Minister could see that tourism is vital to our local economy. He is joined by Wales’ Heritage Minister, Alun Jones, who recently stated that the North Wales tourist industry is worth £1.8 billion a year, supporting 37,000 jobs, and is the lifeblood for many small businesses.
And yet, despite this,here we are already….. faced with the very real threat of wind turbines of over 43 metres within this much loved, highly protected area.
I believe that if you, once again, approve this application today you will have let the genie out of the bottle, and you will no longer be able to control it…… A decision that you, local residents, and the thousands of visitors who come here every year, could come to regret for many years to come. Thank you.’