More than £2 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent on fighting planning appeals from wind farm companies.
The figure was revealed in a report to Powys County Council’s cabinet, which also confirmed that a further £713,455 has been earmarked to defend the council’s planning decisions on wind farms.
Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies said it was “outrageous” and “unfair” that members of the public were being landed with a large bill because the council had carried out its duty as a planning authority.
He said: “It is frightening, it really is quite frightening what it has cost the county council to defend its position. The council has taken decisions and has had to defend them on appeal and it has clearly cost the people of Powys a very large sum of money, which would be a fraction of what the wind farm companies have spent, but they are able to pass the bill onto their customers.”
Mr Davies said objections to wind farm applications in Powys had been taken on sound planning grounds but developers have “bottomless pits of money” to fight the appeals.
He said: “I do not think the council had any choice. Whenever it takes a planning decision it has to defend it. You can’t just let someone who is very rich just appeal against it and bully the council out of the way.”
The majority of the £2 million in costs has been made up of legal bills racked up at the Powys Conjoined Windfarm Inquiry, which closed in June last year.
The inquiry will decide whether windfarms at Carnedd Wen, Llandinam, Llanbrynmair, Llaithddu, and Llanbadarn Fynydd, and a 132kv power line between Llandinam and Welshpool – travelling along the Kerry Ridgeway – are given approval.
The council had originally objected to the applications, triggering the public inquiry.
When asked if it could provide assistance in funding the legal fight The Welsh Government said: “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.”
Mr Davies said the council was right to object to the applications if it believed they were unsound.
He said: “I went to the appeal and the council had one legal person but on the other side there were the best part of 20 barristers in what must have been a multi-million pound campaign.
“It is not fair, it is outrageous.”Subscribe to our Newsletter