South Wales commons saved from industrial development2 min read

We are overjoyed that the Welsh Government has rejected applications by RWE Innogy Ltd to erect wind-turbines and other structures on Mynydd y Gwair and adjoining commons, eight miles north of Swansea.  The decision follows a public inquiry last year.

The developers wanted to erect 16 wind turbines, an access track, electricity transformers, crane hard-standings, construction compound, anemometer and other structures on the commons and had been given planning permission by Swansea Council.  Because the proposal would have taken common land, they had in addition to win the consent of the Welsh Government for works on common land (under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006) and exchange of common land (under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006).  These matters were referred to the Planning Inspectorate.  Represented by our member Clare Moseley, we were among the 200-plus objectors.

Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We are highly relieved that both the inspector and the Welsh Ministers recognise the importance of common land, for the public and the graziers, and have refused to allow it to be degraded and destroyed by industrial development.

Mynydd y Gwair

Mynydd y Gwair

‘Mynydd y Gwair is a very special place, on Swansea’s doorstep, where walkers and riders have the right to roam and can enjoy the freedom, fresh air and exhilarating views.  It is loved by thousands of people, and the graziers rely on it for their livelihoods.’

Adds Clare: ‘We welcome the Welsh Government’s refusal of the applications for works on, and exchange of, common land.

‘In her decision letter, Rebecca Evans AC/AM, the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, notes both short and long-term disadvantages to the public as a result of the proposals, and seeks to protect the character of the common and the interests of the public through refusal of consent.  She agrees with the inspector, Mrs Helen Slade, that the replacement land proposed is inappropriate and that the potential impact of the works is considerable, including threats to “the character and nature of … ancient routes”.

‘Furthermore, the decision letter supports the inspector’s statement that “the applications suffer from a lack of detail”.  This “lack of detail” is unacceptable, in our opinion, especially given the length of time the public has been living with uncertainty about what may happen to the commons they enjoy.

‘We call on RWE to announce that they will now drop their proposals, so that all those who rely on the common land in question, whether for their drinking water, livelihoods or recreational enjoyment, can do so without fear for the future well-being of the commons.’

The wind-monitoring mast has received consent, subject to conditions.

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