Developers plot to begin building Reeves Hill Wind Farm before end of April 2015.

The permission for Reeves Hill Wind Farm, granted by Herefordshire Council in 2012, expires on 25 April 2015. The conditions make clear that permitted WF development in Herefordshire can only begin when all access through Powys has been completed.

Powys have still not announced the date of the planning meeting to determine access (application P/2012/0573). The developers have no prospect of completing access before their permission from Herefordshire expires.

To get round this, the RHWF landowners applied to Herefordshire Council (letter of 18 December 2014) to make ‘non-material amendments’ to the RHWF planning permission (application DCNW2008/1289/F). The application has only just been published on the Herefordshire planning website. These amendments involve changes to the wording of six separate conditions so that they can begin work straight away on parts of the development (other than turbine foundations) before access is completed. This would mean permission is activated so won’t run out. Theoretically, they could even build the substation without any guarantee they could ever put up the turbines!

We do not think that amendments with such far-reaching consequences can legitimately be called “non-material”.

For their part, Herefordshire Council have announced that they are “not accepting comments for this planning application”, thus depriving the public of their democratic right to comment on changes in conditions which have a significant impact on their interests.

Stonewall Hill Conservation Group Objection to P/2010/0573

On Friday 17 October, SHCG submitted a 29 page (plus appendices) objection relating to P/2012/0573 Access to the Proposed Reeves Hill Wind Farm to Powys Council Planning Department. SHCG’s objection is intended to accompany submissions by SHCG’s professional consultants Ian Kelly (Planning), Mark Steele (Landscape), Christopher Gallagher (Historical Landscape), Keith Ray (Offa’s Dyke) and John Constable (Energy). The SHCG objection deals mainly with planning history, highways construction, public rights of way and public opinion, topics not covered in these professional reports. SHCG’s objection can be downloaded here along with John Constable’s report on the insignificant energy contribution offered by the proposed Reeves Hill Wind Farm. The reports by Kelly, Steele, Gallagher and Ray will be published here soon

Town Councils Vote Against Reeves Hill Wind Farm Access – Developer’s Letters go Unheeded.

The two Town Councils representing the areas most affected by the proposed Reeves Hill Wind Farm have both voted against the Developer’s application for access through Powys.  On 27 August Presteigne & Norton Town Council voted to re-affirm their previous opposition to the turbines by opposing Bolsterstone PLC’s application P/2012/0573 to Powys Council to build an access track connecting the A4113 to Llanshay Lane and to construct 14 so-called ‘passing places’ and various other ‘improvements’ between there and the proposed four 106m tall turbines on Stonewall Hill. On 01 October, Knighton Town Council also voted in the same direction, reaffirming their previous vote against the same application.

Over the past months, would be Reeves Hill Wind Farm Developer Sir Simon Gourlay has been writing letters to Powys Planning Committee and Powys Councillors urging them to vote in favour of the access tracks and roadworks that would allow him to build his wind farm. Alongside factual errors and irrelevant information about how Gourlay chooses to spend his income, one of his letters appears to be misleading.

Gourlay’s ‘Open letter to the members of Knighton Town Council’ refers to a bond that is to be lodged with Herefordshire Council to enable the dismantling of the turbines or the re-engineering of the site after 25 years. No such bond is mentioned in any document in the public domain.

Then there is the letter from the Developer’s agent Michael Phillips of Dulas to Matthew Griffiths dated 11 September 2012 on the Powys Planning Portal.

Phillips’ letter suggests that opponents have missed the point because ‘93%’ of their letters of opposition focus on the wind farm whilst application P/2012/0573 is for an access track. SHCG’s survey of objection letters suggests the true figure for those focussing on the turbines alone is about 30%.  But Phillips’ unlikely figure of 93% seems oddly familiar – doesn’t it come from the 93% of Norton Parish that voted against both wind farm and access?

Ironically enough, Phillips’ jibe turns back upon himself.  Gourlay’s letters to Councillors, along with those of virtually all of his supporters, focus on the (debatable) merits of wind turbines as a panacea for the problems of climate change. Climate change and energy production have nothing to do with road construction in Powys – but road construction will certainly add to CO2 emissions.

Hendregenny Single Turbine – new information from the Developer.

New information from the Developer for the Hendregenny single turbine near Whitton has been posted on the Powys Planning website under P/2014/0225

Although the extended consultation period was supposed to end on 30th July, public web site access has been subject to various technical problems and objections should still be accepted for another week. The first likely date for the Planning Committee Meeting is 14th August but this is certain yet.

The new information concerns the impact on National Trails. The proposed 45 m high turbine is 2km from the Offa’s Dyke trail and would be clearly visible from Stonewall Hill. If both Reeves Hill Wind Farm and Hendregenny turbine were built, walkers along Offa’s Dyke would see turbines on both sides.

The Developer has submiitted a Zone of Theoretical Visibility assuming a height of 24.6m whereas the full height to blade tip is 45m, making the turbine visible over a much wider area than shown. There are no photomontages of viewpoints from Offa’s Dyke and no discussion of the cumulative impacts with Reeves Hill Wind Farm.

Objections to the case officer:

Holly-Ann Hobbs, The Gwalia, Ifon Rd, Llandindrod Wells, Powys LD1 6AA.  hobbs@powys.gov.uk

 

 

 

1st July 2014 – Bowdler Farm Appeal Dismissed!

On the 1st July 2014 the Bowdler Farm single turbine appeal was dismissed.  SHCG is delighted by this decision, the result of committed work by our many supporters.

Planning Inspector Kay Sheffield has dismissed Knighton Councillor Chris Bevan’s appeal for a 79m single turbine at Bowdler Farm on Llan Wen Hill near Knighton. The application was determined at a Public Hearing on 14th May by the Welsh Planning Inspectorate because the applicant had appealed against Powys Planning Department’s failure to determine the application within 8 weeks.

In summing up her decision, Ms Sheffield said “I therefore conclude that the proposed development would have an unacceptably harmful effect on landscape character and visual amenity, contrary to Policy E3 of the UDP which seeks to ensure that the development would not unacceptably adversely affect the environmental and landscape quality of Powys, either on an individual basis or in combination with other proposed or similar developments”.

Ms Sheffield’s decision focussed on landscape and visual amenity.  Regarding landscape, she noted its “intrinsically attractive character” and concluded that a high turbine on an exposed skyline “would appear unduly dominant and unacceptably adversely affect the landscape quality of the area, contrary to Policies GP1, ENV2 and E3 of the UDP”. Ms Sheffield was particularly concerned with the turbine’s effects on visual amenity. Here she expressed concern over the effects on the occupants of neighbouring Mount Farm and Mount Flirt Barn, on Norton’s Grade II listed Old Vicarage with its bed & breakfast accommodation, and on the many walkers, cyclists, horse-riders, motorists, tourists and local people who enjoy the amenities of neighbouring sections of Offa’s Dyke National Trail, and the network of footpaths, bridleways, cycleways and minor roads on and around Llan Wen Hill and Stonewall Hill.

Finally she noted that, although the Reeves Hill wind farm might never go ahead, the Bowdler farm turbine would have significant cumulative effects were it ever to do so.

SHCG would like to thank all its supporters for giving up their time and their money to fight this proposal. The many supporters who attended the hearing witnessed our landscape consultant, Mark Steele, playing a leading role in defending the local landscape. The value of his professional report and comments at the hearing are evident in the final decision.

Ms Sheffield’s decision represents an important victory in our struggle to preserve the unspoiled landscape of this special part of the Welsh Marches. Alongside Mr. Nixon’s decision regarding Pentre Tump, it also has important implications for our fight against Reeves Hill Wind Farm.

We have won a battle and we mean to win the 20-year war to save Stonewall Hill.

Bolsterstone’s application for access to Reeves Hill Wind Farm now on SHCG Webiste; deadline for comments extended

The bulk of the documents relating to Dulas / Bolsterstone’s application P/2012/0573 for access to Reeves Hill Wind Farm are now on the SHCG Website. The documents can be found on the Planning History page under the 28 April 2014 entry.

John Pearson, Senior Planning Officer, who is dealing with P/2012/0573: Access to Reeves Hill Wind Farm, has agreed to extend the deadline for public responses until June 30th. The extension is allowed because Ian Kelly, SHCG’s planning Consultant, wrote pointing out that essential documents, apparently submitted by the Developer, have still not been put on the Powys website. These include all the appendices and figures containing the information relied on in the new 2014 Environmental Statement and also the original Environmental Statement for the Wind Farm submitted to Herefordshire prior to their decision to approve.

Bolsterstone’s Environmental Statement; Problems with Powys Website

Bolsterstone have now submitted their Environmental Statement to the Planning Department. Although the Council claims that the application and associated documents can be viewed on their website this is not entirely the case.

At present only 4 new documents from Dulas / Bolsterstone are available on the Powys website:

2942362 Additional Document ES: this 606-page document contains no less than 6 versions of a 100-page ES dated Feb. 2014!!!  In the first of these versions only, Section 6 on Archaeological and Cultural Heritage has been deleted in red. Otherwise the 6 versions seem identical.  None contain the tables, figures and appendices referred to in the text.

2942377 Additional Document David Stewart Planning Statement

2942378 Additional Document Revised ES section 6 Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Statement dated April 2014 – replaces deleted section of ES (see above)

2942644 Additional Information (Redacted) Covering letter from Michael Phillips, Dulas.

(Bold = Powys website; non bold = SHCG comments).

The applicant’s covering letter states that the following have been sent to Powys:

· Environmental Statement, including construction traffic management plan

· Non-technical summary

· Design and access statement

· Copy of original planning application forms, application cover letter and your authority’s registration of the application

· Copy of the original Reeves Hill Wind Farm Environmental Statement.

Beyond the (2014) ES, none of this is available on the Powys website.  Furthermore, in addition to the original 4. vol May 2008 Environmental Statement, “the original Reeves Hill Wind Farm Environmental Statement” mentioned in the covering letter should rightly also include the Supplementary Environmental Report, Further Supplementary Environmental Information and sundry other documents which make up the Applicants’ overall Environmental Impact Assessment submitted in bits and pieces to Herefordshire Council between 2008 and 2012.

We have already written about these and other matters to John Pearson, the Senior Planning Office dealing with application P/2012/0573: New Site Access…   As soon as we have sorted this issue out, we will let you know.

Hendregenny Single 45m Turbine and Other Updates

Walk Against Wind on 9th March.

This has now raised over £4,000!!!!

Thank you all for this wonderfully generous response!

Reeves Hill Wind Farm

On 18th March, an open letter from Simon Gourlay, addressed to Powys Planning Committee members and local Councils, appeared on a local noticeboard. The letter announced that Bolsterstone had submitted the application for access to the proposed Reeves Hill Wind Farm to Powys. To date, no such application has appeared on the Powys Planning website. We wonder why….?

Bowdler Farm Single 79m Turbine

Final comments from the appellant Chris Bevan and defendant Powys Council have now been published on the Planning Inspectorate website (see http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/planning/appeals/ case ref. 2200418). The hearing will take place on 14th May at 10am. Media Resource Centre, Oxford Road, Llandrindod Wells, LD1 6AH . Attendance will show the Inspector that we care about our landscape.

Please put the date in your diary – and make sure you come along.

Hendregenny Single 45m Turbine

Powys Council Planning Committee will soon be considering application P/2014/0225 for a single turbine at Hendregenny Farm near Rhos-y-Meirch, south west of Knighton. The “Zone of Theoretical Visibility” shows the turbine would be clearly visible from a substantial stretch of Offa’s Dyke and could set a precedent for turbines on or around nearby Stonewall Hill (“Reeves Hill”). SHCG supporters are therefore urged to register their objection.

Please take a moment to write objecting to this proposal: Head your letter or email OBJECTION TO P/2014/0225 Send to the Case Officer: Holly-Ann Hobbs, The Gwalia, Ithon Road, Llandrindod Wells, Powys LD1 6AA. mailto: holly.hobbs@powys.gov.uk

Points for objection:

  • High visibility from all surrounding upland
  • Visual impact on both UK National Trails in Powys: Offa’s Dyke and Glyndwr’s Way.
  • Visible from substantial section of Offa’s Dyke Trail from Cwm-sanhan and Panpunton Hill through to Dolley Green, Discoed and Beggar’s Bush. Impact on Glyndwr’s Way from Beacon Hill and Bailey Hill.
  • Impact on rural regeneration through tourism. Offa’s Dyke Trail and ancient monument, Glyndwr’s Way, and the unspoilt border countryside are Knighton’s main tourist assets. Knighton’s Offa’s Dyke Centre has just been selected as one of three strategic central tourist “hubs” for Powys.
  • Precedent for Reeves Hill and other piecemeal turbine development. The developer has omitted the assessment of cumulative impact required by Powys planning policy.
  • Eight residences within 1km. Visible from residences in Rhos-y-Meirch , Whitton, Discoed and elsewhere.
  • Inadequate photomontages submitted with application – none from Offa’s Dyke Trail. Zone of Theoretical Visibility map (ZTV) appears to be calculated for a hub height of 24. 6m; it should be to the 45 m. tip height.

Technically public responses should arrive by 28th April but, in practice, Powys will accept responses after this date. Ideally your response should be in by 06 May. The decision will be made at a full Planning Committee meeting – date to be announced.

Powys Planning Committee Votes Against Giant Single Turbines at Bowdler Farm and Cold Blow, Clyro.

On Thursday 20 March, the Planning Committee meeting at Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Offices was packed with so many wind turbine opponents that only the most local people could be admitted to the meeting room for each application.

The arguments raised by opponents against both single turbines were broadly similar and focused on the turbines’ huge size, their impact on the landscape and their potential impact on tourism.  Cumulative impact with Reeves Hill windfarm was another major objection to the Bowdler Farm turbine.

Votes were 12 against with 2 abstentions for Bowdler Farm and 10 against with 4 abstentions for the Clyro turbine.

The Powys resolution to recommend refusal of Bowdler Farm 79m turbine followed the advice in the Planning Officers’ Report. The report and recommendation will now form part of the evidence considered at the 14 May public Appeal Hearing, alongside the report of SHCG’s Landscape Consultant, Mark Steele.  The Planning Inspector will consider Chris Bevan’s Appeal application and issue a final decision on the Bowdler Farm turbine some weeks later.

Gourlay’s Open Letter to Planners and Councillors

Simon Gourlay attempts to manipulate the Powys Planning Committee Members before they have even seen his application.  He tells them that he is a public benefactor while objectors to Reeves Hill Wind Farm are a small minority.  He gives his own imaginary account of SHCG’s legal battles against Reeves Hill Wind Farm.  And Sir Simon is still riding the same old hobbyhorse named “Ardrossan”.

In an open letter circulated to members of Powys Planning Committee and the Town Councillors of Knighton and Presteigne, Gourlay announces that Bolsterstone have re-submitted their planning application for access to the proposed Reeves Hill Wind Farm.

In an effort to manipulate voting, Gourlay states that he intends to forgo the ground rental from two turbines and divide it between to the Spaceguard Centre and a charity conserving rainforest.  But this is not a material planning consideration.  Of course Gourlay is free to do as he likes with his private money – and so are the many local people, from all walks of life, who have given up their hard-won savings to fight his plans for turbines on Stonewall Hill.

Gourlay’s letter contains a lot of wishful thinking.  He says that opponents to his unpopular scheme are “very small in number” and that SHCG lost “three appeals against the Herefordshire decision”.  Does he not know that objectors cannot appeal against a planning decision?  SHCG were refused one Judicial Review of Herefordshire’s decision.  SHCG’s legal intervention caused Herefordshire to revoke their Section 73 planning decision to vary planning conditions.  For their part, Bolsterstone backed down from their own JR proceedings against the Welsh Assembly Government.  They did not want to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment as required by WAG, but now they have had to do so.

Gourlay brings up the town of Ardrossan on the West coast of Scotland (yet again!) as an example of how people learn to love turbines.  He is not comparing like with like.  The urban surroundings and muffling effect of the intervening dual carriageway of Ardrossan are a far cry from the tranquil isolation of Stonewall Hill.  Gourlay quotes enthusiastic comments about Ardrossan’s turbines.  According to a reporter on the Ayrshire Weekly Press, these patronizing comments infuriated many local people and came from a councillor who is a renowned campaigner and lobbyist for wind farms.  We have been told that she then lost her seat and went on to join a wind farm development company.

Ardrossan wind farm was opened in 2004.  Two of the fifteen turbines are in a Regional Park.  In the meantime, many Scots have become disenchanted with their wind farms.  A survey of nearly 1,000 climbers and hill walkers, published by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (M.C.S, March 2014), revealed that 68% say parts of Scotland are now less appealing because of wind farms.  Around two thirds have already been put off by wind farms from visiting or revisiting places in Scotland they had visited before.  67% say wind farms are making Scotland as a whole a less appealing place to visit.  David Gibson, M.C.S Chief Officer, said: “The survey results are a stark warning to the Scottish Government – badly sited wind farms are a serious threat to Scotland’s reputation as a tourism destination.”

For Scotland, read Wales!

The ardrossan wind farm fire images and video at <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5KvJjI21i0&gt; will not inspire confidence in those who would have to walk, ride or drive along Stonewall Hill just 105m from Bolsterstone’s proposed turbines!