Friday, August 08, 2008

Challenge to Government.

An interesting standoff has developed in Powys between the Council and the Assembly Government. I don't know how this one is going to go, but it looks very big onions to me - and high risk. Front page of this weeks County Times reports an announcement by Councillor Wynne Jones, Board member with responsibility for planning that all wind farms in Powys are going to be refused until the Assembly Government has provided the finance for a new road infrastructure capable of carrying the turbines - which seems highly unlikely.

Now, I'm rather pleased to learn of this development. But I find myself wondering whether it can possibly be true. To refuse all wind farm planning applications would be a direct challenge to the Assembly Government, and if carried out, would totally undermine it's policy of promoting onshore wind farms. It's contemptible TAN 8 policy would lie in ruins - which as it happens is the best place for it. Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire, Mick Bates, an avid enthusiast of onshore wind farms will be furious. Hundreds, if not thousands of Montgomeryshire residents who were in despair about the phillistinian desecration that was about to be visited upon their beautiful landscape will be popping champagne corks tonight. Indeed, I will take a celebratory glass or two at the Guilsfield Show Cocktail Party, for which I am now about to prepare myself.

But wait a sec.. On the other hand, if this is not true, there will be a fearsome backlash. I remember old Hubbs, my future in-laws Bassett Hound. He was as calm as you like - unless you wanted what he had. And once you'd given him something, he was vicious when you tried to take it away again. For Councillor Wynne's sake, I hope he can deliver on this promise. I would not want him to suffer the terrible consequences of 'Hubbsian Revenge'. And if the Council do refuse the 15 or so Planning applications that are in the pipeline, I hope their legal advice is strong enough to defend the Council against the inevitable appeal costs.

Now, Councillor Wynne gets a bit naggy with me sometimes - but I'm bang on his side here. I go as far as to describe him as a man of vision, in that I'd never have thought of this one myself. I don't think he would have gone out on this limb so strongly without some every careful preparation. For certain he would have had the planning officcers and Chief Executive onside. I reckon that a few more copies of my County Times are going to be revisiting this story over the next few weeks.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

mid wales born and bred myself glyn and think your fighting a losing battle...wellplaced turbines will go up, and we should embrace these and ensure the local community benefits not operate a no at all costs attitude.

Jeff Jones said...

Glyn I don't see how they can do this because each planning application has to be treated on its merits. It is also foolish for any councillor to make a public prouncement on a planning application particularly if they are actually involved in the decision making process. There is plenty of case law on this. A judge could have a field day with Powys if they decided to carry out this policy. The sensible course of action for the authority would be for the Chief Excutive to disassociate the authority from the comments of the councillor concerned.

Anonymous said...

what are the symtoms of this 'hubbsian revenge'. it sounds painful.

Glyn Davies said...

anon 1 - Must admit I'd accepted that some wind farms were going to be developed, and this announcement bt Wynne Jones was a great surprise to me. The area where I still hope there can be some change of policy, even under the current Government is in respect of 'cumulative impact'. I also agree with you that we should ensure that the communities affected by the turbines should receive maximum benefit. Improved services may help mitigate the reduction in property values that arise from the turbines.

Jeff - I served as Chair of a Local Planning Authority for over 6 years, and must admit that I was very surprised indeed to read Wynne Jones comments. But he made them. The journalist, Dominic, is a sound and careful and would have checked out his story thoroughly. I do not think the new situation can be allowed to lie where it is. The Assembly Government must be already consulting its lawyers.

anon 2 - Lie is rendered 'nasty, brutish and short' of course!

Anonymous said...

Call me cynical - but could this just be a ploy by the council to get WAG to pay for repairing our country roads?

Draig said...

Wonder where this leaves the massive new powerline proposed to connect all these windfarms by National Grid?

You can guarantee that legal officers are not the only people the Assembly will be consulting about new setback...

Glyn Davies said...

anon - I do not think it would be sensible to try a stunt like that. There must be strong planning grounds to turn down a planning application - or Council Taxpayers are going to be heavily punished. Which is why this announcement would not have been made without the full backing of the Council's legal and planning team of officers.

Anonymous said...

reduction in property prices, evidence please?

ROMAN JONES Esq. said...

I welcome Cllr Jones statement, if also a little surprised. Windfarms are not the answer to our energy crisis as they do not supply anywhere near the quoted levels of electricity - even if we had permanent gales. The lattice pylons connecting this to England would be further dangerous damaging scar on our landscape. However, I doubt Powys CC will be able to block these developments unless we can topple the Lab-Plaid alliance in Cardiff or Labour in Westminster - all of whom are fully paid up members of the windbags!

Glyn Davies said...

anon - At least this is what I'm told.

Roman - agreed. I've just read a 'clarification' issued by Powys County Council today which seems to totally undermine the comments that Wynne Jones made. Perhaps Assembly Government has been leaning on the Council after last week's publicity.

Montgomeryshire Witness said...

Have a look at this link. http://www.windaction.org/news/17343