In a surprise move, Welsh Secretary Ron Davies has called in the Wind Energy Group's application for an extension to its Cemmaes wind farm after the scheme had already been approved by the local authority. Powys County Council voted decisively in favour of six extra turbines by 13 votes to five only days after Montgomeryshire's planning committee had passed them by 14 votes to four. The Welsh Office decided to get involved on the grounds that the project raises issues of more than local importance. This will be the second time that a public inquiry is held into wind energy at Cemmaes; the existing wind farm was built after the UK's first wind farm public inquiry. Planning officer Gareth Thomas says he was surprised at the Welsh Office's decision. "I found it to be unusual given that Cemmaes A was subject to a similar call-in and presumably only granted planning permission after the Secretary of State had considered all the relevant matters. And here we have a wind farm extension that is quite modest." WEG's application is for six of its two-bladed MS-3 500 machine -- a larger version of its existing 24, 300 kW turbines on the site. Davies says the local authority had received over 600 individual letters of objection, with only six in support. The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales is also against the turbines. "They come from a totally entrenched position and reiterated their total opposition to the principle of wind farms," Davies says. "However it is not the volume of objections, but their quality that counts at the end of the day," he adds.
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