Some of our neighbouring counties over the border in England are also concerned about the proliferation of Intensive Poultry Units (IPUs) in our landscape, with the impacts of ammonia, nitrogen deposition and phosphates on biodiversity and human health, and the consequent deterioration of rural living conditions and our rural landscapes.
In Spring 2019 four of the NGOs who have these concerns met in Shropshire to discuss the issue. These organisations were the Herefordshire and Shropshire branches of Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), Shropshire Wildlife Trust (SWT) and us, the Brecon & Radnor branch of Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW).
CPRW already have a database of IPUs in Powys and have published various maps on our website (here and here) illustrating the issue in our county. The two CPREs and SWT have also been developing a comprehensive record of IPUs in their own counties.
It was agreed at the meeting to form a combined CPRE/SWT/CPRW team to rationalise and consolidate the various IPU datasets across the counties, and to build on CPRW’s work by developing some combined maps from this data to illustrate the IPU issues across the three counties.
Therefore here is some further background to the project, and our first few combined cross-border IPU maps, with data to hand as at July 2019. We hope you “enjoy” them!
I am sure that members and supporters will be wondering what is going on with our legal challenge against Lesley Griffiths’ decision to allow wind farm construction to proceed against the recommendation of both our County Council and the Independent Inspector’s Report. We are still waiting for a decision from an Appeals Court Judge. We have been waiting since March, when our lawyers filed our Appeal against refusal of permission to proceed with the challenge. Of course we are keeping our fingers crossed and all hope we can take our challenge forward.
Meanwhile the developer is continuing to submit applications to discharge pre-commencement conditions in a fantastically haphazard and lackadaisical manner. Their claims to have ‘kept local communities closely involved’ are as hollow as their ‘respect for the environment’. These conditions should have been discharged before any work began but Powys Council found it “expedient” not to enforce against construction of Turbine 5.
Our dedicated volunteers have been taking Powys Council planning department to task on each of these conditions. See letter complaining about the changes to the development, lack of plans and piecemeal nature of what ought to be a watertight and well-thought-out Planning Application for such a massive project.
We would be most grateful if you can think of any charitable or representative body (e.g. Wildlife Trust or Community Council) that would write to Powys Planning Department to reinforce this plea for proper planning procedure.
The recent refusal of the M4 Newport Relief Road is a powerful reminder that we have to have the heart to play a long game.
With best wishes and thanks again to all for your support.
A special opportunity to experience the beauty and importance of Traditional Hay Meadows in our farming landscape led by Conservationist, Photographer and Farmer’s Wife SORCHA LEWIS.
Sorcha will give us some history of the Elan Valley, its management by the Welsh Water Elan Valley Trust and the variety of wildlife that it supports. Troedrhiwdrian Farm is in the High Nature Value Scheme.
The visit will be approximately two hours.
We meet Sorcha in Car Park No.7 Gwaelod y Rhos (see map on this link) at 2.00pm on SUNDAY 30th JUNE.
Members Only: Limited numbers, booking essential. To book – Tel: 01544 267418 or email email@example.com. (B&R CPRW Committee)
At Ackhill School Room, Dolley Green, LD8 2EE, nr Presteigne.
The School Room is known as ‘The Tin Tabernacle’ and dates from 1905.
By kind permission of Pastor Richard Mansell.
Parking adjacent to the School Room. www.ackhillbaptistchurch.org
The AGM is followed by a VISIT to UPPER DOLLEY FARMHOUSE with a TALK and TEA at 3.00pm courtesy of John and Diana Trew, recipient of the 2018 Louis Hurley Architectural Award for major restoration of an historic early Welsh Marches Farmstead Grade II*.
Members only visit to Upper Dolley Farmhouse. (Non-members may attend the AGM but obviously cannot vote!)
Please book to reserve your place for this event by July 14th.
Tel: 01544 267418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (B&R CPRW Committee)
COME and BE INSPIRED by a TALK and TEA EVENT with local author TOM DAVIES on SUNDAY 28th JULY at 2.30pm at the Offa’s Dyke Centre, Knighton, LD7 1EN in celebration of the Offa’s Dyke Association’s 50th Anniversary.
Tom will be talking about his 1,100 mile adventure from his home in Presteigne , heading north along the Offa’s Dyke National Trail and continuing along the entire length of the Welsh Coastal Path, arriving home some ten weeks later.
Following Monday’s disappointing judgment by Sir Wyn Williams refusing us permission for judicial review, CPRW supporters will be very pleased to hear that, after consultation with our legal team Richard Buxton Solicitors and Cornerstone Barristers, and with their generous support, we have today decided to seek to appeal the decision.
Planning Policy Wales fully acknowledges the importance of wind-farms and sets out very clear criteria for their location. It states that only in EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES can they be located near ancient monuments. It was for this reason that Powys County Council rejected the Hendy Developers’ application by 11-1, and that the Inspector rejected the Developers’ appeal in May last year. It did not seem tenable to us that after twenty years of national and local debates about the location of wind farms in sensitive landscapes, the Welsh Government’s Lesley Griffiths could decide that exceptional circumstances existed to allow this wind farm – and without explaining why.
CPRW nationally and locally are NOT opposed to wind-farms in principle. They are a vital alternative energy source and as such a counter to climate change. Powys is already a huge net energy exporter. But they should not and cannot be located haphazardly all over sensitive landscapes, and we are resolved to fight to the last to prevent this happening.
The fact that the Developers immediately proceeded with unauthorised work, without fulfilling any of the conditions set out in the permission and with reckless haste, serves only to confirm their indifference to the environment and the local community. For the record, the development company is owned by U&I Ltd, London-based speculative property developers.
Thanks to the many local residents and community groups who have supported us, we will be able to continue the humble struggle for our wonderful landscape in the Courts. Even if we do not succeed, we consider we must make the effort to go to appeal.
With all best wishes,
Chair, Brecon & Radnor CPRW
22 March 2019
We have been informed today by Cardiff Court that we have failed to get permission to proceed with the appeal against Lesley Griffiths’ decision. An appeal against this decision will cost us more money than we can afford, and looks unlikely to succeed.
I know this will be a huge disappointment to all our supporters and to the many of you who have contributed to the cause, to the many that worked hard on the case and turned out in all weathers on Llandegley Rhos.
There is some comfort to be drawn from the fact that we have shown that imperious decisions like this will not go unchallenged; that onshore wind farms located insensitively generate a lot of local opposition and a lot of bad press as well as a full on legal fight; that the regulator has been thoroughly apprised of the unauthorised nature of the works that were rushed through to gain accreditation, and the popular anger felt by taxpayers as a result.
So all has not been lost. In the light of the above, and with the ceasing of the on shore subsidy system, it seems much less likely that there will be a repeat of such a farce.
Thank you to all those who have supported us: we can only apologise that we could not prevail.
As you are well aware, the Hendy developers pushed ahead with the development without fulfilling any of the required conditions, almost as soon as permission was granted by the Minister, Lesley Griffiths.
We appealed that decision, and nearly all of you have helped us raise the money to finance that appeal. Grounds for appeal were lodged by mid December.
However it became clear that the developers were going to have installed the first turbine before the appeal was even heard. We were therefore diverted in to a fight to halt the works. Powys County Council ruled that the works were unauthorised on December 6th, but did nothing to enforce a halt. We were successful in obtaining an urgent injunction to halt the works in Cardiff Crown Court. But at the Birmingham hearing on 20th December, our injunction to stop the unauthorised work was lifted.
Despite a lot of press coverage and local protest, the first turbine was erected just in time for the development to attempt to qualify for an Ofgem Subsidised Tariff. With this tariff in place the development will be worth a lot of money. As you would expect, we have advised Ofgem of the unlawful nature of the development and questioned whether this is really what tax payers’ money is supposed to be for. We were glad to see the case made it in to Private Eye last week (issue 1490).
Meanwhile, the appeal process is grinding on. We have to get leave to appeal, and were asked to attend a Permission Hearing in Cardiff on the 25th February, to decide this. Although this is supposed to be an ‘ex parte’ hearing, it was contested by QCs representing both the developer and the Government. Sir Wynn Williams the presiding Judge unexpectedly ruled that he was ‘reserving judgement’ so at this stage, some two week after the hearing we are in limbo as to whether the appeal will proceed or no.
Thanks to all who have contributed towards this legal fight, and to all those locals who have made their voices heard on the embattled Common, in order to prevent a precedent being set that threatens anywhere in Wales with a ministerial diktat.
With all best wishes
Chair CPRW Brecon and Radnor Branch
9 March 2019
Welsh Soils Discussion Group…Spring Meeting: Soil – the Essentials
An event which may be of interest to our subscribers posted here on behalf of the Welsh Soils Discussion Group:
The Welsh Soils Discussion Group are pleased to announce the Spring Meeting: Soil – the Essentials, in Aberystwyth on Wednesday 3 April (2019).
The day will provide an introduction to soils and the issues surrounding around them. We have a range of specialists to deliver the training and help in discussions.
The day is aimed at persons for whom (a) soil is a part of their job but not a major component or (b) people with a general interest in soil. The aim is to provide a baseline level of knowledge, network and encourage discussion.
We will have talks on: What soils are: (Ian Rugg, WG) Soil threats in Wales: (Jack Hannam, Cranfield University) Soils and Farming: (Paul Newell-Price, ADAS) Soils and Ecology: – including soil biodiversity (TBA) Soils and Planning: (James Cooke, WG) Soil Mapping and Earth Observation: (Katie Medcalf, Environment Systems)
We would really like you to join us for an interesting and enjoyable day (see full details in the link below). So please sign up and save the date!
Friday 21 December 2018
CPRW Brecon & Radnor branch were successful in gaining an Injunction against further concreting works on Monday December 17th from the Cardiff High Court. We were bitterly disappointed to see this discharged yesterday 20th December in the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre. However the ‘pour’ has now been postponed until January 3rd as the Breedon Quarry is closed.
We are actively considering issuing a Judicial Review if Powys County Council agree that the pour can proceed. Central CPRW are fully behind such action and their instant response (to an urgent telephone call from the court yesterday!) has been magnificent.
Meanwhile the main action, the Section 288 Appeal against Lesley Griffiths’ incomprehensible decision to ignore Powys County Council, the just-approved Powys LDP, and the Inspector’s recommendation to reject the Developer’s appeal, will proceed at all possible speed.
The legal actions are consuming huge amounts of our time, but more worryingly huge amounts of money.
Please continue to give generously to save the Llandegley Rhos!
Many thanks, and Best Wishes to all at this Christmas Festival Season.
Jonathan Colchester – Chair B&R CPRW
Appeal Account Details: EVERY LITTLE HELPS!
B&R Branch CPRW AC 29455868 Lloyds Bank SC 30-94-99
CPRW Is a Registered Charity No 239899 – If you are a UK taxpayer, please consider filling out the gift aid form HERE. This will add 25% to your donation at no cost to you.
If paying by cheque, please make it out to “CPRW – Brecon & Radnor”. Cheques and gift aid forms should be sent to Ann Payne, Glanffrwd, Llanfihangel Talyllin, Brecon, LD3 7TL.
On Friday 14th December CPRW B&R have issued to the courts in Cardiff an urgent claim for interim stay which, if successful, will require the developer to cease all work on site until the s288 challenge to the Minister’s decision is heard by the courts. We are hoping to have a decision on this by the middle of next week and we will advise as soon as we have news. Contravention of an order for interim relief is contempt of court for which the defendant can be imprisoned, fined or have assets sequestrated.
Holly Ann Hobbs has just announced late Friday afternoon that while the developer is permitted to install steel rods, a Temporary Stop Notice will be issued if he attempts any further work beyond the installation of the rods, such as the concrete pour.
We are disappointed that the Temporary Stop Notice has not been issued with immediate effect and unable to understand why this developer has been offered any further concessions at all.
We will have to remain very vigilant. This developer has already demonstrated his contempt for planning law and is unlikely to change his behaviour now.
CPRW Brecon and Radnor Branch: Communication to Membership
As you are all well aware, and many of you have already generously contributed towards the fund for legal fees for this action, CPRW B&R served papers on 6 December on Welsh Government and Interested Parties for a Section 288 Review of the Minister, Lesley Griffiths’, incomprehensible decision to allow the Hendy Wind Farm development.
As you are also well aware this challenge is being overtaken by events.
The construction work at Hendy/Llandegley Rhos began on 20th November immediately after submission of applications to discharge conditions, and continues at breakneck speed, at nights and at weekends, with no regard for permitted hours of work. The developers are evidently determined to erect one turbine before the end of January in order, it seems, to be eligible for government subsidy.
Works have taken place on the Llandegley Rhos common and more are proposed for which no planning consent has been applied for or obtained. Construction teams have been pile driving on the wind farm site and concrete is now arriving on site for the first turbine base.
This work is being carried out without any of the pre-commencement planning conditions being discharged. These conditions are all binding and the Minister’s consent is contingent upon the conditions being satisfied in full and discharged.
While heroic demonstrators at the site have done their best to delay these works on common land, we have made repeated representations to Powys County Council to enforce a halt to these illegal works without any tangible result. On 6th December Powys informed residents that the developer had been ‘advised to stop’ but that no enforcement notice had been issued. Since then the council have professed themselves unable to get ‘evidence of unacceptable harm’ – which Planning Officers maintain to be a requirement for enforcement action.
We have set out that the Council has applied the wrong tests re enforcement action and has misinterpreted material points of law to reach their decision not to enforce against construction works, which are of themselves unlawful because they have not followed approved plans, and are being undertaken without discharge of pre-commencement conditions.
We have this morning served on the Council a pre-action protocol letter, addressing the legalities of the Council’s position on enforcement. In it we demand that effective enforcement action is undertaken by the end of this week or that we will forthwith issue proceedings against them for a judicial review of the enforcement function.
It seems that the developers, Powys County Council and the Welsh Government consider they have no need to heed or uphold the law. With your help we are going to make them feel the full force of it.
Jonathan Colchester – Chair B&R CPRW
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