FEARS that thousands of lorries will bring “traffic chaos” to Newtown have been expressed after 17 wind turbines were approved.
Outraged local councillors fear it could bring more than 10,000 extra lorries and set a precedent for further developments.
Last week Carl Sargeant, Welsh Assembly Member and Minister for Natural Resources, approved the turbine application and the access track at Garreg Lwyd Hill, between Felindre and Llanbadarn Fynydd, which could see thousands of lorries travelling through Newtown on route to the development’s access track.
“I’m outraged that the minister has disregarded the concerns of local people and overturned Powys County Council’s initial decision to reject the planning applications,” said AM for Montgomeryshire Russell George.
“While there are differing views on the merits of onshore windfarms in Mid Wales, this decision will undoubtedly have a significant and detrimental impact, bringing further traffic congestion issues in Newtown.”
Mr George said that he thinks more than 10,000 ordinary lorry movements will be required to go through the centre of Newtown for the wind turbines to be constructed.
He said that lorries will get to the access road by travelling along Pool Road, New Road, Llanidloes Road and then under Nantoer Bridge before going into Mochdre Industrial Estate. A new link will be added joining the estate with the A483 about half a mile after the middle Dolfor junction.
He added: “There is also a fear that this decision will set a precedent for other windfarm proposals to use this inappropriate route through Newtown.
“The traffic chaos caused by the proposed route will be horrendous for Mid Wales. Any increased congestion on roads which are already choked with traffic is simply unacceptable to justify and there are also concerns about the ability of lorries to go under the Nantoer Bridge after a number of incidents where the trunk road has had to be closed due to lorries getting stuck.”
In November 2013 plans were submitted for 23 wind turbines on land at Garreg Lwyd Hill, between Felindre and Llanbadarn Fynydd, Llandrindod Wells.
This included access tracks, a control building, car park, off site improvements, maps and welfare facilities.
The proposed wind turbine site covered around 440 hectares (1,087 acres).
Also proposed was an access road across third party land between Newtown and the proposed site to facilitate the delivery of abnormal loads and the building of a new track and upgraded track from Cwm Y Berllwyd across the proposed Llanbadarn Fynydd windfarm to access the proposed Garreg Llwyd Hill windfarm.
After objections from the local community and Powys County Council, who stated that the turbines would have an adverse impact on the landscape and views in the area, a seven day public inquiry was held in October 2014.
However, before the inquiry the applicant reduced the number of turbines proposed from 23 to 17.
Following the inquiry the inspector concluded: “The overall disruption to road users caused by the increase in traffic and the consequences for the local population economy and tourist industry as a result of the proposed wind farm would not be unacceptable.
“Moreover PCC and National Resource Wales have raised no objection with regard to the effect of the development on the ecology and biodiversity of the area and the evidence has not convinced me otherwise.”
Mr George added: “Contrary to the inspector’s and the minister’s view, I am of the view that this disappointing decision to allow these planning applications will have damaging consequences for Mid Wales and it demonstrates a total lack of understanding from the Welsh Government Minister.”
Newtown County Councillors Joy Jones and Gemma Bowker also objected to the decision made last week.
They said: “The decision will result in thousands of additional lorry movements and abnormal loads being brought through Newtown to construct the turbines.
“These will cause enormous disruption to local residents, visitors and emergency services vehicles. Ministers have acknowledged the acute traffic problems facing Newtown and made the construction of the bypass in the town a priority.
“This decision is committing Newtown to even greater and more unsustainable transport problems than it is currently facing.”