The Welsh Assembly has flown in the face of local decision-making and halted a planning application for a wind farm in north Wales. Just hours before Conwy councillors approved the case of National Wind Power (NWP) to build 26, 1.5 MW wind turbines on the Denbigh Moors near Pentrefoelas, the National Assembly for Wales called in the application because it raised issues of more than local importance. A public inquiry may now be necessary. The wind farm has strong local support and was passed by Conwy Council on the recommendation of its planning officer by 19 votes to two. Enid Williams of Pentrefoelas Community Council says: "Our community is livid with this decision. We balloted each individual within the community council area who came out in overwhelming support for this scheme. At a time when agriculture is on its knees and we have a real threat of rural depopulation we feel that this proposal at least gave us a ray of hope." This was NWP's second application to build a wind farm on the site. Its first was narrowly refused by local councillors in 1999 after the Welsh Office declined to call in the proposal stating: "The proposed development does not warrant taking the application out of local hands." Local turbine tower manufacturer David Williams, whose company Cambrian Engineering may be hit by the decision, blames the Countryside Council for Wales which, with support from a consortium of environmental groups, pushed for the plans to be called in. "The tax-payer funded quangos and unrepresentative pressure groups are still managing to unreasonably influence planners. They are totally opposed to wind farms of any size, anywhere." National Wind Power is waiting for the Welsh Assembly to hand the project back to Conwy for determination or to hold a planning inquiry.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol