TWO high profile windfarm decisions are to be “revisited” after the High Court sensationally quashed both rulings just months after they were made.
Four highly publicised windfarm applications were turned down by the UK Government in September following a public inquiry after huge protest campaigns.
An application to install 35km of new power lines was also refused by the UK Government which gave the go-ahead for the re-powering of the existing windfarm at Llandinam.
However, two decisions made by the Department of Energy and Climate Change were quashed by the High Court in the days before Christmas meaning the UK Government’s decision-making process for them will begin again.
Campaigners across the county will now look on with baited breath as RWE Innogy’s 150MW Carnedd Wen and RES’ 90MW Llanbrynmair – wind farms that formed part of the Powys mega-inquiry – go back under the spotlight.
But Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies says he has ‘no fears’ about the outcome and is confident the decisions will remain the same the second time around.
“I haven’t got any concerns,” Mr Davies said. “This isn't a reversal of the decision at all. In a sense we have gone back to where we were, but I am more than hopeful that the outcome will be the same.
“It seems clear that there must have been an error somewhere in the decision process, which has led to two of the windfarm decisions being quashed.”
Both RWE Innogy’s 150MW Carnedd Wen wind turbine application and RES’ 90MW Llanbrynmair wind turbine proposal, both recommended for approval by the planning inspector, went to judicial review following the September decisions to refuse them.
The outcome was the result of a huge four-year battle by protesters to see them rejected, which also saw 7,668 County Times readers sign a petition confirming their opposition to the plans.
“Clearly the High Court has looked at the process again and decided it wasn’t strong enough,” said Mr Davies.
“Controversial decisions such as this must be dealt with fairly and comply with proper process.
“I support this principle. I anticipate the Secretary of State, based on the same evidence and same inspector’s recommendations, to come to the same decision in due course.
“It’s frustrating that this divisive issue will continue for a few more weeks yet.”
However, John Charles Bayliss, Mid and West Wales regional list Labour candidate for the 2016 Welsh Assembly Elections, heralded the High Court ruling on social media website Twitter, describing it as “An excellent early Christmas present from the High Court to the Welsh renewable industry.”
Both RWE Innogy and RES say their bids have been re-energised by the High Court ruling which they say gives them fresh hope their applications may become reality.
An RWE Innogy UK spokesman said: “RWE Innogy UK can confirm that, following its request for a Judicial Review into the refusal of consent for the Carnedd Wen Wind Farm in Powys, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has notified the court that it accepts the quashing of that decision.
“We hope the Secretary of State will now take a fresh look at this project.
“We remain convinced that this is one of the best remaining locations for a windfarm in Wales and that, following the global co-operation and agreement reached at the UN climate conference in Paris, onshore wind still has a significant role to play in reducing energy bills and meeting Welsh low-carbon and green-growth aspirations.”
The consent application now returns to the DECC, who were unavailable for comment, for re-determination.
RES’ head of projects for England and Wales Tim French added: “RES welcomes the news that DECC’s decision to refuse Llanbrynmair has been quashed and DECC will now re-consider this important low carbon energy project, following our request for a judicial review of the decision in October.
“RES now awaits the Secretary of State’s new decision and will continue to keep the local community informed of progress.”
The Secretary of State's decision to refuse a bid to construct 35km of new power lines from Llandinam windfarm to the Welshpool substation, as well as those regarding previously proposed windfarms at Llaithddu and Llanbadarn Fynydd, are unaffected by the latest High Court development.