Powys wind farms: Council faces £2.8m public inquiry bill
A council has appealed for extra help as it faces a £2.8m bill to contest a major public inquiry into five wind farm applications next year.
Powys council has set aside the money from its reserves to tackle the inquiry, which is expected next spring.
But it wants Welsh government help, saying the county deals with more wind farm projects than most councils.
The Welsh government said it had given Powys over £130,000 to help it cope with wind farm applications since 2010.
The council confirmed it had received the government money, but said it was not for funding public inquiries.
It said planning inquiry costs were considerable and would be an additional burden on its budget at a time when it was under "huge financial pressure".
Opposition to wind farms has grown in Powys since plans were unveiled to build an electricity sub-station in the county. Cefn Coch, near Llanfair Caereinion, was chosen as the preferred site for the sub-station in July.
WELSH GOVERNMENT MONEY RECEIVED BY POWYS COUNCIL
- 2010-11 - £33,000
- 2011-12 - £103,572
- 2012-13 - it has offered £29,507
- Source: Welsh government
About 1,500 campaigners gathered at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay in May last year against the plans, which includes a corridor of pylons from 10 planned wind farms.
The five public inquiries follow the council's rejection of large wind farm applications in Llaithdu, Carnedd Wen, Llanbadarn Fynydd and Llandinam, and a National Grid connection from Llandinam.
Council cabinet member for planning and regeneration, Graham Brown, said as a consequence of the Welsh government's Tan 8 policy Powys had a higher proportion of wind farm applications than other authorities in Wales.
The technical advice note (Tan) 8 policy was introduced in 2005 as guidance on wind farms. It allows councils to decide on wind farms up to 50 megawatts in size.
End Quote The Welsh government
It must be remembered that the decision to object to the wind farm applications referred to is entirely down to Powys County Council”
Mr Brown said the authority had been "forced to set aside £2.8m to fund legal action to defend the county council's interests".
He added: "We are appealing to current governments both in Cardiff and Westminster to recognise this unfair situation and provide additional resources to councils like Powys who have been placed in this very difficult position."
The council said more than 12 other wind farm applications were in the pipeline, so more public inquiries could follow.
Earlier this week it rejected plans for two wind farms at Pentre Tump, near New Radnor, and Mynydd-y-Cemmaes near Llanbrynmair.'Extra money'
A Welsh government spokesman said: "We have given extra money to Powys County Council to help it deal with the wind farm applications in the Tan 8 areas within their boundary.
"This support is for those schemes which are decided by the UK government.
"The UK government does not offer any extra resources to planning authorities in England, so Powys has access to more financial support than most other councils.
"It must be remembered that the decision to object to the wind farm applications referred to is entirely down to Powys County Council.
"They were aware of the financial implications when they decided to object to these schemes."