A wind turbine

A wind turbine

Plans for two separate windfarms are being opposed by a national park authority and access campaigners.

The first, in south Wales, is for 19 turbines on Mynydd y Gwair Common, north of Swansea. The second is for five structures east of the Peak District National Park.

The Open Spaces Society is leading the opposition to the Mynydd y Gwair project. The society’s general secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “This is a wonderful open hillside, with spectacular views, where people roam freely enjoying the peace, tranquillity and exhilaration of the area. 

“The wind turbines, with their associated paraphernalia of tracks, transformers, mast and substation, will urbanise and destroy the wildness of the site.

She said the hillside is particularly important, due to being so close to Swansea.  She said it is the backdoor recreation ground for the city’s population.

“Furthermore, the land is registered common land,” Ms Ashbrook said.  “People have a legal right both to walk and ride horses over every square inch of the common, not just on the paths.  The turbines and other works will severely interfere with the public’s exercise and enjoyment of its rights, as well as with the rights of commoners to graze animals there.

“In any case, development cannot take place on common land without the consent of the Welsh Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, under section 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925. We trust that consent would be refused because of the adverse effect on people’s enjoyment of the common.

“Indeed, a development of this scale on common land ought to be subject to the procedures for exchange land, requiring the developers to offer in exchange for the common to be taken land which is just as beneficial to the public.  That, of course, would be an impossible task and would render the application dead in the water.

“For all these reasons we urge Swansea Council to reject this pernicious planning application and ensure that the spectacular Mynydd y Gwair Common remains intact for everyone to enjoy,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Peak District National Park Authority paid a site visit to Sheephouse Heights, between Penistone and Stocksbridge, 2.6km (1½ miles) outside the park’s eastern boundary. Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council is due to hear an application for five 125m-high turbines on the site.

The national park’s planning committee recommends that the proposals be turned down. The committee chair Anne Ashe said: “Members of the committee felt that having five wind turbines at this location would have a dramatic effect on the wilderness on the edge of the national park.

“We do support renewable energy schemes and have approved several individual wind turbines in the past.

“But we have to look at these applications on a case-by-case basis to see what impact they will have, both individually and collectively. In this case we feel the impact would be too great.”

The area is becoming a hot spot for windfarms, with existing groups of turbines at Royd Moor and Hazlehead, with two further planned at Spicer Hill and Blackstone Edge.

Earlier this month, a planning inspector approved a windfarm at Carsington Pastures, near Ashbourne, which the national park authority also opposed because of the impact on the park’s special qualities.

But head of planning Bob Bryan said: “This is a totally different situation from Carsington, where there is a definite dividing line in landscape character along the national park boundary. At Sheephouse Heights there is a clear continuity – it is all part of the same landscape.”

The Sheephouse hearing is likely to take place early next year.