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Windfarm fights cash refusal angers council

News | Published:

The Welsh Assembly has been accused of backing windfarms after refusing to foot the bill to fight schemes in Mid Wales.

Powys County Council has set aside £2.8 million defending its decisions to refuse windfarms at public inquiries, bosses have revealed. It says it should receive financial assistance from the Welsh Assembly.

Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies said the hard-pressed council would struggle to afford the bill, while AM Russell George accused the Welsh Assembly of 'hampering local democracy' by not paying up.

The Welsh government said it had given Powys County Council £130,000 to help it cope with windfarm 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'.

Mr Davies raised the issue in the House of Commons and Mr George in the Welsh Assembly chamber this week.

Hard-pressed

Mr Davies said: "Powys County Council is a small, rural, hard-pressed local planning authority that is currently having to divert £2.8 million from public services to defend refusals of windfarm applications at public inquiry.

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"The local community is also raising £150,000 for the same purpose while developers have access to unlimited funds demanded from consumers. This is a David versus Goliath position.

"We need to have an urgent debate on the way in which appeals are funded – that would give us an opportunity to demonstrate that the government is not entirely on the side of Goliath."

Mr George said: "The belligerent stance the First Minister and the Welsh Government are taking in relation to Powys Council is hampering local democracy.

"They refuse to provide any additional financial support to the council to help it defend its position and continue to point the finger of blame at the UK Government."

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Councillor Graham Brown, cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said: "We are appealing to current governments both in Cardiff and Westminster to recognise this unfair situation and provide additional resources."

A Welsh government spokesman said: "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 windfarm applications referred to is entirely down to Powys County Council."

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