Welsh Government gives onshore wind the green light
On 25 October 2018 planning permission was granted, on appeal, for a seven turbine windfarm (maximum tip height of 110m and hub height of 69m). The windfarm site lies outside the strategic search areas in a landscape of regional value, and would cause significant (and in one case substantial) harm to the significance of four scheduled ancient monuments.
This is thought to be the first decision of the Welsh Government which grapples with its policy only to permit development resulting in a significantly damaging effect upon the setting of a scheduled monument “in exceptional circumstances” [paragraph 6.5.5 of Planning Policy Wales introduced in November 2016].
Notably, Welsh Minister Lesley Griffiths accepted all the evidential findings of the appointed Inspector Hywel Wyn Jones who held an inquiry over eight days in March 2018, but concluded that “in this case, the need for development which produces renewable energy outweighs” all the identified harm.
She also stated expressly that the scheme’s contribution to meeting that need is an exceptional circumstance and so accords with the heritage policy referred to above.
This finding is bound to raise some eyebrows, if no more, and gives a clear green light to onshore wind in Wales at the present time, bearing in mind the level of need and progress being made towards existing and future renewable energy targets.
Also of interest to those following the question of appropriate assessment in the light of the ruling in People over Wind is the Inspector’s supplementary report which records the results of an appropriate assessment, and the Welsh Minister’s acceptance of his conclusion.
The associated Addendum report can be found here.
Mrs Harriet Townsend acted for Powys County Council in the appeal.