Judicial Review held into Llandrillo Turbines

There is a good piece in this week’s issue of the Free Press (see above) about the two massive wind turbines (377ft) planned for Bodelith, near Llandderfel, and the Judicial Review (JR) which was held yesterday at Wrexham Court.
The JR is a bid by STEMM to challenge the way in which Denbighshire’s Planning Committee arrived at the decision to give two 46m (150ft) wind turbines at Syrior, near Llandrillo, the go ahead back in February, 2013.  This was despite strong opposition from over 100 local residents.
Yesterday, several STEMM supporters sat through the hours of fine legal points, and we all felt the barrister acting on behalf of STEMM did an excellent job.  We now await the judgement which could come through in a couple of weeks.  If we do win we hope it will send a clear signal to other farmers/landowners/developers that we will fight to keep this beautiful area free of these out-of-scale industrial structures.
The image below shows the scale of the proposed wind turbines at Syrior in relation to the historic Llandrillo Church.



Deadline Extended For Bodelith Comments.

STEMM has managed to get the deadline extended for objections to a scheme for two 377ft (115m) wind turbines at Bodelith Isaf, on the edge of Llandderfel, between Corwen and Bala.  Originally the deadline should have been today (May 1), just three weeks after the application was made public.  However, STEMM felt that there were still many local residents who were not aware of the plans and needed more time to look at the pages and pages of documents before deciding whether or not to object.  The new deadline is now Friday, May 23.

Most of these documents are available on line through this link to Gwynedd’s Track and Trace planning site, which is now up and running having been down for several days.  You can also add your comments in a box on this link.  http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/swiftlg/apas/run/WPHAPPDETAIL.DisplayUrl?theApnID=C14%2F0291%2F04%2FLL&theTabNo=3&backURL

The documents are also available for people to look at in Bala Library.  Address: Bala Library, Llyfrgell Bro Tegid, Ysgol y Berwyn, Y Bala, LL23 7RU. Phone: (01678) 520014 The opening hours can be found on this link.  http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/gwy_doc.asp?doc=23339&Language=1&p=1&c=1

MP Restates Her Support for STEMM

Clwyd South MP, Susan Elan Jones, has this week restated her support for STEMM’s campaign to stop further encroachment of wind turbines into the upper Dee Valley.

“I believe that the placement of wind turbines can have serious consequences for rural landscapes like ours. You will know also that I have been a big supporter of groups like STEMM. My personal view on wind farms has always been that genuine local opinion and constituents’ views should be heard when it comes to far-reaching planning decisions. We cannot have wind farms placed everywhere and anywhere and I can fully understand the concerns of communities like yours which are greatly affected by these sorts of developments,” she said.


Llandderfel Faces New 115m Turbines Threat.

A scheme for two industrial wind turbines on the outskirts of Llandderfel, between Corwen and Bala, has been submitted to Gwynedd Council.  The proposal is to erect two 377 ft (115m) high turbines at Bodelith Isaf – 78ft (24m) taller than those at Braich Ddu. The deadline for objections is Thursday, May 1.
This bid, by renewables energy development company, Pennant Walters, is the latest of a series of efforts by landowners and developers to introduce these out-of-scale industrial structures into the unspoilt upper Dee Valley.
As many of you will already know, a Judicial Review challenge has been launched 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 will bring with them 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 all these schemes are voted through.
There are, of course, three turbines already at Braich Ddu which, at 298ft (91m), are significantly smaller than those proposed at Bodelith.  But, if all the wind farm schemes in this area get the green light we will be faced with a turbine dominated landscape.  This would stretch from Wern Ddu (4 x 90m), through the Gwyddelwern turbines (3 x 46m), Braich Ddu (3 x 91m), those planned for Mynydd Mynyllod (25 x 145m) and Llandrillo (2 x 46m), and running to this new scheme at Llandderfel (2 x 115m).  In all, a total of 39 wind turbines of a range of heights – a visual nightmare.  Bear in mind, too, that this is all not only on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, but also the newly extended Clwydian Range AONB, which now borders Corwen and Cynwyd, as well as the SSSI Berwyns.
Finding out more and objecting:
You can find more details about the proposed turbines at Bodelith on Gwynedd Council’s website (see link below) and, if you wish to object, you can do so through that link or, by writing to: Planning Department, Gwynedd County Council, Dwyfor Area Office, Ffordd y Cob, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 5AA. http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/swiftlg/apas/run/WPHAPPDETAIL.DisplayUrl?theApnID=C14/0291/04/LL&theTabNo=3&backURL
There is a lot of information contained in the various documents within that link.  The latest one, however, is the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) provided by the developer, which has to look at a range of aspects, which can also be used as grounds for objection.  These include:
  • the cumulative visual impact of the proposed 115 m turbines in relation to existing turbines and all those in various stages of the planning process in the area;
  • impact on local residents of noise, possible shadow flicker, potential loss of value of property (particularly relevant in light of the recent London School of Economics report which shows a significant drop in house prices for homes close to turbines https://www.facebook.com/download/399312376875060/gibbons%20house%20prices%20April%202014%20sercdp0159.pdf ) etc;
  • issues concerning access to the site and transportation of all the components;
  • impact on birdlife and bats;
  • possible impact on the many tourist based businesses in the area (the surveys referred to in the EIA date back to 2005/2006 and studies have been courtesy of the British Wind Energy Association, hardly a disinterested organisation);
  • effect on the archaeology/historic environment etc
An objection, either by email or letter, can be as short or long as you wish it to be, but it must be relevant to the planning process.  Those issues listed above are amongst the most commonly put forward in opposing wind farm schemes.  Please remember to give your full name, address and contact details.
It is also worthwhile, particularly if you live in Gwynedd, to contact your local county and/or community councillors to let them know how you feel about this proposal.
Any new information will also be posted on STEMM’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/STEMM/217154595034610
There is only a short time in which to send off objections as they have to be with Gwynedd Council by Thursday, May 1.

Llys Dymper Turbines REJECTED!

Windpower Wales’ plans for 10 turbines of 110m (360ft) at its Llys Dymper wind farm in the Conwy Valley were given the thumbs down today by members of Conwy Council’s Planning Committee.

Planners at Conwy County Borough Council had said that the development, near Llanrwst, ‘was not considered to be acceptable in this location and would be contrary to national planning policy.’  Llys Dymper is around 5km OUTSIDE of a Strategic Search Area as identified in Welsh Government policy note TAN8 for large-scale onshore wind development. The planner’s report said the proposal is ‘contrary’ to the TAN8 objectives of concentrating developments within the SSAs and preventing turbines being ‘spread across the whole of a county.’  This is an interesting decision, too, for residents fighting Scottish Power Renewables’ scheme for 25, 145 (475ft) turbines on Mynydd Mynyllod, in the upper Dee Valley, which is also outside of the sites allocated for major wind farms.

Still on the subject of fighting the spread of wind turbines, Russell George, Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire, would like to hear your opinion on wind energy in your local area.  He has put together a short survey (please click on the link) which you are invited to complete.  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1gptodAx-Wejm9Z9U61zISSVWwv9YgIl2YhUy69CGRXU/viewform

New turbine and pylon threat to Denbighshire




Preference, anyone?

What’s missing, though, are the lines of pylons which accompany major wind turbine developments which are currently threatening so many parts of North Wales.

Denbighshire alone already has some 100 wind turbines, with scores more in various stages of the planning pipeline, many of which would be 145 metres (475ft) in height.

As the Daily Post reported today (see link below) the various wind farm developments have led, in turn, to plans for a 17 km, 132kV overhead line with new pylons which would run close to a number of  villages.  This would start at a new substation at Clocaenog Forest, just outside Ruthin, where there is a scheme for 32, 145m turbines.

Clwyd West AM, Darren Millar, is quoted in the article at stating that ‘local people are strongly opposed to the  scheme and fear the overground power lines will “wreck” the countryside. He said: “Local people are furious that  the proposed route for these power lines runs so close to their communities and their objections must be heard. Miles of overground cables will be  seen by many as an eyesore, spoiling beautiful views of North Wales.”‘  The Daily Post piece also contains details of the proposed routes and the Public Exhibitions currently being held to give people details of the scheme.  http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/conwy-denbighshire-fears-wind-farm-6844774

In addition to this, plans for 10 wind turbines of up to 110 metres (360ft) in height at Llys Dymper in the Conwy Valley have reared their ugly head again.  These turbines would be right on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park and would also be clearly visible from the Clwydian Range AONB as you look towards the major peaks.  As The Snowdonia Society states in objecting to the wind turbines: ‘The proposal would be visible from the highest peak in the Park, Snowdon, as well as significantly impacting on views from other peaks including Moel Siabod and Carnedd Llwyelyn. The impact of existing wind farms including Moel Maelogan is heightened by this new proposal, which increases the density of turbines visible. The views from Snowdon summit, in particular, are enjoyed by up to 350,000 visitors and residents every year – the cumulative effects of existing and proposed wind farms from this point begin to give the impression that Snowdonia is being ‘fenced in’.’  Their full statement can be found on this link http://www.snowdonia-society.org.uk/news.php?n_id=311

Objections are being received by Conwy Council, but they must be received, either by email or post, ahead of their meeting on April 9.  If you wish to object the email address is: cynllunioplanning@conwy.gov.uk and please remember to state clearly which planning application you are objecting to, giving its reference number, which is 0/38695

Many people seem to adopt the view that schemes for wind turbines will go ahead regardless of what local people think, but there are increasing numbers of cases around the UK where these plans are being rejected.  Our voices DO count!

After all, who would really wish to see the stunning scenery below filtered through an industrial maze of wind turbines, pylons and power lines?

Appeal dismissed for 77m Gwyddelwern turbine

An appeal against Denbighshire Planning committee’s decision to refuse an application for a 77 metre (252 ft) wind turbine at Lletty Farm, Gwyddelwern, just outside Corwen, has been dismissed by the Welsh Planning Inspectorate chiefly on the grounds that ‘the unacceptable visual harm’ would outweigh any benefits.
The Appeal Decision states: ‘The main issues in this case are the effects of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area and on the setting of the nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and whether or not any such harm would be outweighed by the benefits of the proposed scheme.’  It goes on to point out that there are already several wind turbines in the area, including three 46m turbines in Gwyddelwern, and the nearby Wern Ddu wind farm with four turbines of 90m.  In addition, there are more wind turbines at ‘scattered farms further away’.  There is a lot more information in the document which can be found on this link. http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/fscdav/READONLY?OBJ=COO.2036.300.12.6170164&NAME=%2F2202906.pdf
This tends to make you wonder how many other turbines that Denbighshire’s councillors have been approving, despite opposition from residents and other concerned groups, may also have been dismissed had the councillors instead refused them and they had gone to appeal.  So many of these turbines are close to, and even in one shocking case, actually WITHIN an AONB!
The image above shows the existing turbines at Wern Ddu and it comes from the excellent ‘To Hatch A Crow’ blog which, in December, ran a wonderful piece about the wind turbines in this area.  In it is this little gem: ‘On the subject of Wern Ddu, the last energy output figures I have to hand showed it operated at a rather pathetic 19% of its potential capacity. Environmental impact huge – Energy contribution minimal – Subsidised profits to shareholders healthy!’
There is also a lot of information in the blog about the proposed Clocaenog wind farm of 32, 145m (475ft) turbines, just outside the historic market town of Ruthin, which is currently being examined.  This will close on March 12 and there are a range of Hearings throughout this month.
There are some very interesting points of detail in the blog, but particularly relevant to the area is this:  ‘Last year the Vale of Clwyd beneath the Clocaenog development area, suffered catastrophic flooding which took one life and caused millions of pounds worth of damage. For those living in the shadow of the forest in this flood prone valley, the idea of massive clear felling of tree cover with its inevitable impact on water retention and inundation of water courses in periods of heavy precipitation-not exactly a rare phenomena in the north Wales uplands!- must be chilling in its cataclysmic potential.  Despite spending millions of pounds on flood prevention in the area, the dark irony of the Welsh assembly government aiding a development which can only further exacerbate the flooding potential brings me back to my earlier comment re- lunatics running the asylum!’  The full blog can be found here  http://tohatchacrow.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/all-this-useless-beauty.html

More Delays From Scottish Power.

For over a year now Scottish Power Renewables has not seen fit to provide the many communities around the site of their proposed major wind farm at Mynydd Mynyllod with an update on the scheme.
This plan to build 25, 475ft (145m) turbines, on the ridge and slopes of this mountain, which lies between Corwen and Bala, has effectively blighted the area for the past three years. However, once again, SPR’s website contains a ‘development and planning’ timeline which is inaccurate.  It states that they will be submitting the application for the Development Consent Order this winter, but the consultation needed to reach this stage has still not been carried out.  They clearly think nothing of the concerns of hundreds of local residents who want to know what, if any, ‘progress’ is being made, particularly in the light of the recent Government decision to cut subsidies to onshore wind farms.
STEMM members, some of whom also sit on SPR’s Community Liaison Panel, have also contacted the Spanish owned energy company, but have not received a response to their enquiries.  The same is the case with local residents who have used what is supposed to be a ‘Have you say’ section on the energy giant’s website.  It seems this is the internet equivalent of banging your head against a brick wall!
Although all enquiries should, at this Pre Application stage, be directed at the developer, STEMM contacted the Government body, National Infrastructure Planning (NIP), when it became obvious that SPR was not going to reply.  These emails also met with silence, until this week when there was finally an apologetic response.  This is far more than has been received from SPR.
And this is it…..The application now looks as though it will be submitted in Q2 (April/May/June) of 2014.  The Senior Project Manager, James Innes, has stated that the delay is due to issues regarding the Grid Connection, and that SPR is unable to confirm the exact date for submission of the application.  However, he did mention that by March 2014 he would be in a better position to provide the ‘anticipated submission date’.
So, after many attempts by a number of local residents, we finally dragged some information out of SPR.  However, not only have we yet even more months of delay, but SPR have informed NIP that the Community Liaison Panel was informed of the grid connection issues and that the date for submission would only be confirmed once this issue has been resolved!  Now, if that had been the case, would this group have been contacting SPR for OVER a year trying to find out what was going on so that this information could be passed on? 
SPR has scored something of an own goal with this communication blackout. After this, how could anyone believe that they would be even remotely interested in the views of local residents?
These lovely images which show aspects of the beautiful landscape that STEMM is fighting to protect were taken by keen local photographer, Pauline Wheeler of Corwen.

Good News!

The planning application at Bryn y Ffynnon, near Glanrafon, to erect two 113ft (34m) wind turbines close to the Caer Euni Iron Age hillfort and the neighbouring stone circles, has been withdrawn.

The hillfort is situated on the ridge that can be seen along the A494 Bala road, and the turbines, together with an access road, would have been visible from these scheduled ancient monuments.  More information about the hill fort can be found in the piece below.

Meanwhile, there is no further information available from ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) regarding their plans to erect 25, 475ft (145m) wind turbines on the ridge and slopes of Mynydd Mynyllod.  STEMM members have contacted the energy company on a number of occasion to request an update, given that the website states that consultation on the Draft Environmental Statement / Preliminary Environmental Information would take place in the Spring/Summer of this year, with the Submission of application for Development Consent Order taking place this winter 2013/14.  The Government body that is responsible for examining planning applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects, National Infrastructure Planning (NIP), has also been contacted in a bid to clarify the situation, but neither SPR or NIP have responded or even acknowledged these requests.

As we know, SPR have already delayed the planning process on this massive wind farm scheme on several occasions, and they would appear to have no concern for the blight that the Upper Dee Valley continues to face while the threat of this major development hangs over local residents and businesses, many of which are tourist based.

Ancient Hill Fort Under Threat

As reported in last week’s Free Press, the Iron Age hill fort, Caer Euni, which is on the ridge above the A494 into Bala, could have two 113 foot wind turbines looming alongside it if developers get the go ahead.
The proposed scheme at Bryn y Ffynnon, near Glanrafon, would see the turbines, as well as an access road, being erected close to the fort.  As anyone who has walked up there will know, the fort already looks out across to the Braich Ddu turbines on neighbouring Mynydd Mynyllod.  Visitors to the area would, therefore, be surrounded by turbines as they visit this fort, which the Royal Commission of The Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has stated is of some historical importance.
A spokesman for Gwynedd County Council explained that the application had been submitted and was currently out for consultation.  More details about the application ( C13/0868/04/LL) can be found by putting that reference into the search on Gwynedd’s Track and Trace site http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/swiftlg/apas/run/wchvarylogin.display?langid=1
An interesting website which gives more detail about the Caer Euni hillfort can be found at http://www.heneb.co.uk/merionethforts/14caereuni.html