Wales

Clocaenog Forest wind farm approved by UK Energy Secretary

Proposed Clocaenog Forest wind farm by RWE Innogy UK Image copyright RWE Innogy UK
Image caption The wind farm (area shaded green) would straddle the Conwy and Denbighshire border

Plans to build a 32-turbine wind farm in forestry on the Denbighshire and Conwy border have been approved by UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey.

The Clocaenog Forest proposal has prompted complaints about the possible impact on the landscape and how it will be connected to the National Grid.

A Planning Inspectorate report said there would be no significant visual impact 5km (3 miles) beyond the site.

It added that changes within 5km were not bad enough to justify rejection.

The proposals were first put forward in 2009 with construction due to begin in 2016.

Developer RWE Innogy UK has said the wind farm could generate enough power for up to 40,800 homes.

'National interest'

Members of the protest group Clocaenog Against Wind Turbines (Cawt) are opposed to more turbines in the area, saying they want the forest preserved.

Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane has presented a petition in Parliament asking for reassurances that cables connecting the wind farm to the National Grid at St Asaph would be buried underground.

Image copyright Philip Halling
Image caption The visual impact beyond the immediate area would be minimal, inspectors say

The report said that the national interest in developing large scale wind farms was not outweighed by the potential "adverse local impacts" of the Clocaenog development.

It said there would be no significant visual impact on either the Clwydian Range, Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the Snowdonia National Park.

The report added that while the wind farm might harm the settings of scheduled ancient monuments such as the Tŵr yr Hill round barrow, they were not of such a scale as to preclude the granting of consent.

On the issue of connection to the National Grid, inspectors said this would be the subject of a separate application but they could see no obvious reason why it would not be approved.

RWE Innogy UK has set up a dedicated website to provide updates and an explanation of the process affecting Clocaenog Forest, which is on Welsh government owned land managed by Natural Resources Wales.

The company has said it has worked closely with ornithologists and ecologists to produce a habitat management plan, to include restoration of habitats and woodland management.

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