Events have been moving fast in the last few weeks:
1. 17th January 2017 Powys Cabinet approval of Further Focussed Changes (FFCs): Powys Council Cabinet approved the Further Focussed Changes (FFCs), containing the proposed new renewable energy (RE) policy i.e. the vast proposed wind and solar Local Search Areas and 600MW target (revised from 50MW in earlier LDP versions). Despite cogent arguments presented by leaders of the opposition groups, the Cabinet, with one single abstention, voted in favour of approval of the Further Focussed Changes. The webcast of the meeting can be viewed here. (Agenda item 4)
2. 29th January 2017 Powys Council submitted the Local Development Plan with FFCs to Inspector Nicola Gulley.
3. 3rd February 2017 Around 180 people attended a public meeting called by Brecon & Radnorshire MP Chris Davies to discuss Powys’s proposed energy policy. See here for further information.
4. 7th February 2017 Inspector’s Pre Hearing Meeting. The Inspector set out the examination procedure. The Council confirmed that a revision of the RE policy is to take place and that the council have once again commissioned data from consultants AECOM, authors of both the flawed 2016 report which recommended the proposed Local Search Areas and targets, and a similarly poor quality report produced in 2012. We are disappointed that the council have chosen to spend more taxpayer money on further reports from AECOM, and this decision is grounds for concern regarding the outcome of the Council’s revisions to RE policy. The policy revision is intended to be submitted to the Inspector by 31st March. The Inspector indicated that any substantial change would be put out for public consultation.
Notes of this Pre Hearing Meeting should be available on 14th February via this link.
5. Timetable for Inspector’s Examination of the LDP: A draft Hearings Timetable can be found on Powys CC website here in document ED028. This may be subject to revision if, for example, the council do not achieve their deadline for submission of revised policy. If you have elected to speak at the Hearing, please see this timetable for submission deadlines for statements on ‘Matters and Issues’. ‘Matters and Issues Agendas’ for the Hearing dates are found on the same page (ED029). Agendas for Renewable Energy and Monitoring Hearings are likely to change when the council provides the proposed policy revisions.
6. Public responses to the FFCs: responses to the FFCs can now be viewed here. See ‘Schedule of Further Focussed Changes (LDP 37)’ – “Schedule of Proposed Further Focussed Changes – Addendum to the Deposit LDP (October 2016) with Refpoints”: Page 100, ref point 44.91. Responses are listed by name and available as individual documents.
Alternatively responses are listed within a single document “Appendix 5b”. Council responses are contained in the “Addendum to Appendix 5b”.
We remain very concerned that some viewable responses (notably response from CPRW Powys branches) are incomplete and are lacking all supporting documentation. Please do check how your response appears and advise the Programme Officer, Tracey Smith if you are not satisfied. It does appear that this has allowed the Council to fail to address certain points in its responses. For example, we can see no council response to our comments regarding arithmetical and logical failures in AECOM’s reports. We will be taking this up with the Programme Officer. (CPRW Powys branches and CPRW National responses can be viewed on this site in full here. )
7. IMPORTANT – CALL TO ACTION: 23rd February 2017: Meeting of Powys full council.
(Venue: Council Chamber – County Hall, Llandrindod Wells Contact: Stephen Boyd 01597 826374)
At this meeting Aled Davies, leader of the Conservative group of councillors, will propose a motion that the new RE policy (Local Search Areas which together with existing Strategic Search Areas will extend across between 30 and 40% of Powys, a target of 600MW) should be debated by full council with a view to councillors recording their (and their constituents’) unhappiness with the proposals. There is now little scope for withdrawing the LDP from the examination process, but this motion would convey a strong message about the lack of proper democratic process in the introduction of the proposed RE policy. Councillors have never had the opportunity to debate the RE policy, in fact many were wholly unaware of the policy changes in FFCs until alerted by their constituents. This motion represents their last chance to make their views heard.
PLEASE DO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL COUNCILLOR AND URGE HIM OR HER TO SUPPORT ALED DAVIES’S MOTION. IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT THAT ALL COUNCILLORS UNDERSTAND HOW DISASTROUS FOR THE COUNTY THE PROPOSED POLICIES WOULD BE.
Councillors may need to be reminded that:
- Over a quarter of the county outside the National Park is to be designated for industrial development;
- As with TAN8 Strategic Search Areas a ‘presumption of approval’ will operate within Local Search Areas;
- Development targets for the period till 2026 have been increased from 50MW in earlier versions of the LDP to 600MW, and these targets will be used to justify development;
- The Welsh Government will decide all applications over 10MW – other plan policies will have little or no relevance to the decision process.
We are very concerned at the lack of democratic legitimacy of the FFCs and the catastrophic proposed renewable energy policy. Residents have been allowed no part in the formulation of the policy itself, nor have we had an opportunity to propose alternative means of achieving the LDP objectives. The environmental impacts of the proposed policy have not been assessed.
8. 9.30 a.m. Thursday 23rd February – MAKE YOUR VIEWS KNOWN – PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION AT COUNTY HALL, LLANDRINDOD WELLS
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
9. LOCAL ACTION GROUP: A local action group is being formed. If you would like to take part, please register your interest with Jenny Keal: email@example.com.
10. CPRW LEGAL FIGHTING FUND
We are extremely grateful for the donations received into this fund which have enabled CPRW to engage a barrister to represent the strong case against Powys County Council’s RE proposals. The appeal remains open – please give if you can. See Current News on CPRW’s site, or this link will get you the Appeal document directly.
CPRW Brecon & Radnor