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Controversial weather mast plans appear before Powys planning committee again

A similar weather mast - but without the red and white colours would be built at Esgair Galed. From Dulas part of the documents lodged with the application.

FOR the second time in three months controversial plans for a weather mast will be in front of Powys councillors for a decision and 99 objections have been lodged against it.

In April it was revealed that a fresh planning application has been submitted to Powys County Council by Esgair Galed Energy Park Limited.

The firm is the development vehicle for Bute Energy, who specialise in developing wind and solar energy parks.

The meteorological mast which would be a maximum 122.5 metres tall at the site which is 3.8 kilometres west of Staylittle.

Esgair Galed – where a weather mast and wind turbine could be built (Pic: Google Streetview)

The weather mast is the precursor to a potential development of 220 metre high wind turbines earmarked for the area.

Resident from nearby Dylife, Staylittle and Llwynygog are already campaigning against the windfarm proposal.

The application will be before council’s Planning Licensing and Rights of Way committee at a meeting on Thursday, June 27.

At a Planning committee meeting on Thursday, March 14, councillors voted against the first version of the application and in doing so they went against the advice of planning officers who recommended the application should be approved.

Last time around the application was “called-in” to be decided by the Planning committee by Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Gary Mitchell who is the Powys councillor for the area.

He has done the same thing with the new application which is now allowed after the planning protocol was updated earlier this month.

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Cllr Mitchell said: “Whilst they have clearly provided more information on the construction methodology and both visual and ecological aspects, to me these just further highlight the risk the development has on its surroundings.

“Now we have what Bute have provided, in my opinion the committee, in my, should re-visit it.”

Cllr Gary Mitchell (Pic: Powys County Council)

In her report, senior planning officer Rhian Griffiths said: “The previous application was refused by the Planning committee on landscape grounds, due to insufficient information.

“In response to this, the current application has been supported by ‘Technical Statement: Landscape & Visual’ by Soltys Brewster Consulting.

“Given the slim nature of the aluminium being used and the non-reflective nature of the material, the photomontages show that in the locations where the mast is visible, it is not overbearing in massing.”

Ms Griffiths stresses that the potential windfarm project lurking in the background should not be a consideration for councillors when they debate the application.

Ms Griffiths said: “This application relates solely to the meteorological mast and does not include any proposal for a windfarm.

“A subsequent windfarm proposal is not a consideration of this planning application.”

Ms Griffiths recommends approving the application and giving it conditional consent.
In documents lodged supporting the proposal planning agents Carney Sweeney said: “The mast will gather a range of meteorological data during the 36-month period as part of the overall feasibility assessment for a future wind farm proposal.

“The proposed development is not considered to have a significant impact on environmental, social, or economic factors.”

They add that government policy supports the principle of developing renewable and low carbon energy from all technologies.

The Esgair Galed Windfarm wind turbine scheme, which was revealed in January would roughly be situated, northwest of Llanidloes, southeast of Machynlleth and south of Llanbrynmair.

Any future wind turbine planning application would be deemed a Development of National Significance (DNS) and be processed by Welsh Government planning inspectors at Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW).

If built the wind turbines would create 171 MW of electricity which would be enough to power between 113,000 and 179,000 households a year.