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Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project refused by Government

The Government has refused an application for a development consent order under the Planning Act 2008's Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime. The refusal is only the second instance of a development consent order being refused under the NSIP regime.

The decision, which related to an application for a large wind farm at Mynydd y Gwynt in Wales, was issued by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on the 20th November 2015. The proposal was for the construction of a windfarm east of Aberystwyth within Powys Council local authority boundary for up to 27 turbines with around 81-89.1 MW generating capacity together with various additional works.

Tom Cosgrove was instructed by Powys County Council who sought to resist the proposal. The examination period began in November 2014 and ended in May 2015. Together with a team of consultants (including experts from Enplan and Atkins), officers and Jayne Foxley (Powys Planning Solicitor), Tom appeared at the examination hearings and advised on the progress of the project.

Particular issues covered included policy context, landscape and visual impact, cultural heritage impacts, impact on ecology, biodiversity and protected species, hydrology, public access and recreation, socio-economic impacts including impact on tourism and the traffic and highway implications of the construction phase.

The basis for the refusal of the application centred on consideration of matters under the Habitats Regulations (which implemented for relevant purposes the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives). The Secretary of State indicated that she did not have the information required to assess appropriately the impacts of the Development on the integrity of the Elenydd – Mallaen Special Protection Area ('SPA'), despite further questions having been issued by her to the applicant after the close of the Examination. Consequently, the Secretary of State concluded that she could not grant development consent because she was not able to conclude that there was no adverse effect on the integrity of the red kite feature of the SPA. Further, the Secretary of State indicated that she was not able to consider the application under the provisions set out in regulation 62 of the Regulations (overriding public interest) in the absence of sufficient information to consider the possible environmental effects of the Development.