Preliminary Meeting For Clocaenog Wind Farm.

An excellent article in this week’s Denbighshire Free Press from Mike Skuse, who is part of a group fighting the proposal for a major wind farm in Clocaenog Forest, near Ruthin.  This scheme, from German owned RWE npower renewables, is for 32, 475ft (145m) wind turbines.
The Preliminary Meeting was held in Denbigh on Thursday (September 12th) when a timetable was set for the process by the National Infrastructure Planning appointed Inspector, Wendy Burden.
It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to recognise the devastating impact that this wind farm, coupled with the 25, 475ft (145m) wind turbines planned by Spanish owned ScottishPower renewables for Mynydd Mynyllod between Corwen and Bala, would have on this beautiful part of North Wales.
It is worth remembering, too, that back in May Denbighshire’s Planning department released figures that showed that more than 90 wind turbines had already been approved within the county.

Loss of Founding Member John Broughton

Dear STEMM supporter,
a campaigning organisation is only as good as the commitment of its’ members, and I’m sorry to say that we have lost one of our most committed and active members with the death of John Broughton.
Many of you will have seen John speak at one of our public meetings and behind the scenes he was vigorous in exploring the background connections and moves between those who would be happy to see our countryside despoiled by the unchecked spread of wind turbines… large and small(er).
The best memorial to John will be to continue the fight to keep these rural wind factories at bay and thus preserve some of the finest landscapes in Britain. I am sure that John would wish me to thank you all for your past and future support.
Regards
Andrew Jedwell (Chair STEMM)

For those of you who would like to attend, John’s funeral will be held at Pentrebychan crematorium at noon on Friday 13th September.  http://www.wrexham.gov.uk/english/env_services/community_services/pentrebychan_crematorium.htm
The photograph shows John earlier this year in Llandrillo.  His wife, Francesca, is standing beside him, together with other STEMM members.

Latest Update on Turbine Applications.

Just an update on the situation here in the upper Dee Valley regarding a couple of the wind farm applications.
The two 46m (150ft) wind turbines at Syrior, just outside Llandrillo, were voted through by Denbighshire’s Planning committee back in February.  The Council has recently issued the Decision Certificate, which means the matter is now in the hands of STEMM’s legal team with an aim to get this decision overturned through the formal judicial review process.
There is no more news yet regarding ScottishPower Renewables’ application to build 25, 145m (475ft) on the ridge and slopes of Mynydd Mynyllod.  According to the National Infrastructure Planning website, this application is now expected some time in 2014. http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/wales/mynydd-mynyllod-wind-farm/
As soon as we have more information about these plans, or for the two 125m (410ft) turbines proposed for Bodelith, near Bethel, we’ll put the details on here and STEMM’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/444652548938828/#!/pages/STEMM/217154595034610

New Plans for Wind Turbines of 410ft at Bethel.

The landscape between Corwen and Bala is under threat AGAIN, this time from a proposal to erect two 410 ft (125m) high turbines at Bodelith Isaf, near Bethel.

Renewables energy development company, Pennant Walters, has organised two Information Days for June 4 and June 5 to give local residents the opportunity to find out more about this scheme and to ask questions.  On Tuesday, June 4, there will be representatives at Llandderfel Village Hall from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.  The following day, Wednesday, June 5, they will be at Y Ganolfan, Llandrillo, also from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

As many of you will already know, STEMM is currently going through the Judicial Review process in a bid to overturn Denbighshire Planning Committee’s decision to give the go ahead to two 150ft (46m) turbines at Syrior, Llandrillo. In addition, of course, there is Scottish Power Renewables’ plan for 25, 475ft (145m) wind turbines along the ridge and slopes of Mynydd Mynyllod, in the Cynwyd, Llandrillo and Llandderfel areas.

So, to date, this small and beautiful area is currently earmarked for a potential 29 wind turbines, ranging in height from 150ft to 475ft.  They’ll bring with them, of course, miles of access roads, hard standing, pylons and a substation. This scenery, so popular with local residents and visitors alike, could be lost forever if these schemes are voted through.

Cruelly ironic news on the day that the ‘Daily Post’ has carried a two page spread devoted to the fact that Wales is ‘Sitting on a fortune’ in terms of the massive, still relatively untapped potential the country has for tourism.  However, as Scotland, the North East of England and Cornwall are finding, visitors do not want to visit areas which have been desecrated by wind turbines.

Welsh Environment Minister, John Griffiths, recognised this when he said the recently extended Clwydian Range 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.”    But what have Denbighshire’s Planning committee just done?  Voted through a towering 150ft (46m) turbine within this highly protected area and only 700m from the Offa’s Dyke National Path.  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.

Iolo Williams Hits Out At Turbine Decision.

Former RSPB officer turned television wildlife presenter, Iolo Williams, has criticised Denbighshire’s decision to give the go ahead to a massive wind turbine within the Clwydian Range AONB.  (The full story is below.)
‘It’s an absolute disgrace that Denbighshire’s Planning Committee has voted to allow the construction of a 46m wind turbine within the Clwydian Range AONB. What ramifications will this have for other AONBs and even National Parks? Surely, those idiots on the council can work out that Outstanding Beauty in AONB doesn’t mean wind turbines!?’

Dark Day For Local Democracy.

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.’

92 Denbighshire Turbines Already Approved

This Wednesday (May 15), Denbighshire’s Planning committee will once again be considering an application for a 46.3m (150ft) wind turbine WITHIN the AONB at Marian Mawr, Cwm, near Dyserth.

Only a few weeks ago their decision to give it the go ahead sparked an outcry as it was felt to be setting a dangerous precedent within this highly protected area.  (More details about this plan are in a piece below.) Now, in an unusual move, the Head of Planning has again put the scheme before them to ‘review’ their decision from the previous meeting.

The reasons for this are, that it is:
a) a significant departure from the adopted Development Plan.
b) An application where there could be a significant risk of costs awarded against the Council at any subsequent planning appeal, legal challenge or ombudsman investigation.
The full details of this are now available online as Agenda Item 7 on this link: https://moderngov.denbighshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=183&MId=4565&Ver=4&LLL=0
You can also see the details on there of two other wind turbine applications which will come before this committee on Wednesday.  They are for yet another wind turbine near Gwyddelwern, outside Corwen, and one at Bontuchel, near Ruthin.  The new one at Gwyddelwern is not far from the three 46m (150ft) turbines erected within the last 12 months, but this one would be a third greater in height and have more than twice the rotor diameter than the existing ones.  It would be 77m high (over 250ft) with 50m diameter rotor blades, compared with the 19m diameter rotors of the other turbines.
The turbine at Bontuchel would be 46.3m (150ft) in height, and only 50m away from a similar existing turbine.
The Council Officers have recommended refusal for both schemes, so it will be interesting, once more, to see how the councillors vote.  Although, of course, unless a recorded vote is requested we will not be entitled to know whether our elected representatives were in support of these applications, or not.  Transparent democracy in action!
As well as numerous ‘smaller’ wind factory, and other individual wind turbine applications in the area, there are also plans for two massive wind ‘farms’ of 32 turbines at Clocaenog, near Ruthin, and 25 turbines at Mynydd Mynyllod, near Corwen, which have been hanging over the county for a number of years.  If these are all given the go ahead Denbighshire could soon be over-run by some 200 or more turbines, many of which would soar 145m (475ft) in height. 
A halt has to be brought to this increasingly faster paced destruction of the Welsh landscape, before it is too late.

Fresh Chance to Object to AONB Wind Turbine.

In an unexpected move, Denbighshire’s Head of Planning has decided that the Planning Committee should review its decision to give the go ahead to a 46.3m high (over 150ft) wind turbine WITHIN the Clwydian Range AONB at Marian Mawr, Cwm, near Dyserth.  The meeting in which the application will again be considered is on Wednesday, May 15, in Denbighshire’s Council offices in Ruthin, starting at 9.30 a.m.
With this in mind, there is now the opportunity to write to or email the Council to object to this proposal.  It could be, for example, that you are appalled by the precedent being set here, and that AONBs should be exempt from any sort of wind turbine development. There are plenty of other reasons to object.  Letters should be in by May 12, which does not give us long.
The applicants are E.O. Morris & Son, farmers.  The scheme is in the Tremeirchion ward, the local member being Cllr. Barbara Smith, who spoke in support of the application, which was voted through by a rather shocking 22-2.
It is a major concern that even the AONB, which has the same protected status as the Snowdonia National Park, could now be desecrated by wind turbines if this application is voted through again.  It is also worth pointing out that the site would be only 700 m from the historic Offa’s Dyke National Trail.
In making their initial decision these councillors ignored not only the advice of their experienced and highly qualified Officers, but also the recommendations of the Landscape Consultant, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Joint Advisory Committee for AONBs, which warned that if this wind turbine went ahead it would ‘undermine the status’ of these designated areas. In addition, their decision is in conflict with their own Unitary Development Plan policies.
We have been given a second chance to have this wind turbine rejected.  We need to make the most of it.  If we fail, and they grant it again, it could mean that many other areas within the AONB, which stretches from Llangollen, through Ruthin and Moel Fammau, continuing along the Clwydian Range towards Prestatyn, could be opened up for this form of development.
If you need ideas of what to say when objecting, this DCC website link contains the full details of the application. http://www.denbighshire.gov.uk/en-gb/DNAP-8B9LGE
Here are the details:
Application No.   47/2013/0137
Installation of a 50kw micro generation wind turbine with control box and access track Marian Mawr, Cwm, Rhyl.
Letters to:
Denbighshire County Council
Planning and Public Protection
Caledfryn
Smithfield Rd
Denbigh LL16 3RJ

You can also email your objection through on this link, but please be sure to give the application number as shown above.  planning@denbighshire.gov.uk

A number of opponents will be attending the meeting and, if you would like to come along, but need a lift, then please don’t hesitate to contact us by messaging this page.  Spaces in the chamber are limited, but more seats can be provided if we have an idea of numbers in advance.

Councillors Approve Turbine WITHIN The AONB!

Now even our highly protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is no longer safe from the threat of wind turbines, thanks to members of Denbighshire’s Planning Committee.

At this week’s meeting they voted 22-2 to give the go ahead to a plan to erect a 46.3m (over 150ft) wind turbine at Marian Mawr, Cwm, which is within the Clwydian Range AONB.  This wind turbine, which, ironically, was rejected last year as being a threat to this sensitive area, would be only 700m away from the Offa’s Dyke National Trail.

Once again, when presented with a wind turbine for ‘farm diversification’ the councillors have opted to ignore not only the advice of their experienced and highly qualified Officers, but also the recommendations of the Landscape Consultant, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Joint Advisory Committee for AONBs, which warned that this decision would ‘undermine the status’ of these designated areas.  In addition, their decision is in conflict with Denbighshire’s Unitary Development Plan policies.  An extract from a Denbighshire Planning document states:

Planning Policy Wales (2002) paragraph  5.36 states: “National Parks and AONBs are of equal status in terms of landscape  and scenic beauty and both must be afforded the highest status of protection  from inappropriate developments. In UDP policies and development control  decisions National Parks and AONBs must be treated as of equivalent status. In  National Parks and AONBs , UDP policies and development control decisions should  give great weight to conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and  cultural heritage of these areas”

Now that this turbine has been given the green light it could mean that many other areas within the AONB, which stretches from Llangollen, through Ruthin and Moel Fammau, continuing along the Clwydian Range towards Prestatyn, could be opened up for this form of development.

These councillors don’t seem able to grasp that the area’s economy is heavily reliant upon tourism, and the many thousands of visitors do not come here to see landscapes bristling with towering turbines.  Instead, our elected representatives seem hell bent on destroying what is one of the county’s greatest assets.

STEMM Seeks Judicial Review to Halt Syrior Turbines.

LATEST UPDATE REGARDING THE PROPOSED TWO 150FT (46M) TURBINES AT SYRIOR, LLANDRILLO.

As far as the Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) plans for Mynydd Mynyllod are concerned, there is absolutely nothing to report. As far back as May 2012 they were saying that consultation documents would be circulated by July 2012.  Since then, total silence, apart from having confirmed to the Planning Inspectorate that they anticipate making a planning application in the third quarter (Q3) of 2013.  However, since they haven’t yet gone out to pre-application consultation, it is hard to see how this date can be met.

In the meantime, we have been grafting very hard, both before and after the Denbighshire (DCC) Planning Committee meeting on February 20th, which gave the go-ahead for two wind turbines at Syrior, Llandrillo by a vote of 14-12, an application to which very many of you objected.

I think it is worth remembering why this application is so important in the wider context of the proposed development of the rest of Mynydd Mynyllod, and why we have all fought it so hard:

(i)  It is within the boundary previously defined by SPR as part of their Mynydd Mynyllod scheme, and must therefore have had their approval.

(ii)  SPR provided ornithological information to help remedy a shortcoming in the Syrior application.

(iii)  It is on tenanted land owned by the Crogen Estate and the tenancy agreement will have obliged Syrior to have the approval of Crogen.

(iv)  Crogen is the major landowner beneficiary of the SPR proposal and so both they and SPR have an interest in the degradation of the landscape by the Syrior turbines so that any further visual impact assessment will claim that the damage has already been done.

(v)  Perhaps the most important aspect is that there are four landowners who have already said “yes” to SPR wind turbines on their land. Even if SPR don’t go ahead, or are turned down for their monstrous proposal, approval for Syrior will have opened up the area for other applications.

With this in mind, we took legal advice from Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law, and were told that there are good grounds on which to apply for judicial review of the planning decision by DCC. These reasons mainly revolve from the inadequacy of the process followed by DCC.

We have therefore advised DCC of our intention to apply to the courts for judicial review.  We see this as an extension of the wall of protest that STEMM supporters have already thrown up around this application and thus it is not a change of course.  It is, however, stepping up a gear, but we are fortunate in having an offer of separate funds to support this process. I trust that we can count on your continuing support for this challenge to the wind factory development of Mynydd Mynyllod and the Upper Dee Valley.  (Andrew Jedwell on behalf of STEMM.)