Permitting refusal at Swansea challenged

A community energy group is to take its case to build a wind project in south Wales to the High Court in London. Awel Aman Tawe (AAT) is challenging a decision by a Welsh Assembly planning inspector to turn down its application to install four wind turbines on Mynydd y Gwrhyd in the upper Swansea valley. The project, sited near an open cast mine, was first rejected in 2005 by Neath Port Talbot Council because of its visual impact. Ken Maddocks, chair of AAT's Trustees, says the group has been overwhelmed by messages of support from people in favour of challenging the refusal. "Local people voted for this wind farm in an independent referendum managed by the Electoral Reform Services," he says. "All profits from the wind farm would go into micro-renewables, energy efficiency and other environmental projects." He is scathing about the inspector's conclusion that: "It cannot be argued that [the development] is required to meet the national need for renewable energy production." Maddocks comments: "To the ordinary person hearing about climate change on the news every day, this is a ridiculous statement." Dan McCallum from AAT warns that the decision has serious implications for wind energy in Wales. The inspector's conservative interpretation of planning policy assumes that no wind farms would be needed other than large projects sited in areas designated by the Welsh Assembly government for wind development, he says. This sets a dangerous precedent. "It is going to be impossible for medium sized projects to get consent," says McCallum.