Reeves Hill wind turbines may be scuppered in cross border row

Stanage Park was the setting for 1980s TV comedy Blott On The Landscape - about a planning row

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Controversial plans for wind turbines in Herefordshire could be scuppered by a cross-border planning row involving a renowned country park.

Permission has been granted for four turbines overlooking the Welsh border.

But the landowner behind the plan is challenging a Welsh government decision for an impact study over widening an access road to the site.

Welsh conservation body Cadw says the 105m-high turbines would spoil the view from nearby Stanage Park in Powys.

Sir Simon Gourlay says the turbines on his land in Herefordshire, metres away from the border with Powys, would generate low-carbon electricity for thousands of homes.

The Reeves Hill site is near Stanage Park, created in the early 19th Century by landscape architect Humphry Repton.

Stanage Park in Knighton was used as a location for the 1985 TV comedy Blott on the Landscape - adapted from a Tom Sharpe novel about a planning row over a proposal to build a road.

Cadw describes it as "one of the most important historic parks and gardens in Wales" and says the turbines would "cause serious harm to the historic and visual character and value of Stanage Park".

Although Herefordshire council has granted planning permission for the turbines, they cannot be brought to the site until an access road in Powys has been widened.

Start Quote

Perhaps the most important grounds in relation to Stanage Park is its impact on the landscape”

End Quote Stephen Hugh-Jones Stonewall Hill Conservation Group

Powys Council has been told by the Welsh government that an environmental impact assessment is necessary before permission can be granted for the roadworks.

That decision is based on the "likely adverse visual impact" on the grade I listed Stanage Park.

Sir Simon, a former president of the National Farmers' Union who has been trying to build turbines on the land since the mid 1990s, told the BBC Wales' Sunday Politics programme: "I think the Welsh government decision is wrong and is being challenged.

"I don't think they had all the evidence.

"A letter has been sent to the chief officer of the planning department about it and I hope the Welsh government will reconsider it because it does not merit an environmental impact assessment.

"After all, Cadw were consulted when Herefordshire made their decision. They're statutory consultees and Herefordshire took into account the impact on Stanage Park when they made the decision.

"So it's quite clear that Herefordshire have consented for wind turbines."

Stanage Park There is concern about the impact on the landscape around Stanage Park

He said the nearest turbine would be 2.3km from Stanage Park and the fears of opponents who say it would spoil the view "doesn't make any sense to me at all".

'Express views'

The Stonewall Hill Conservation Group has been fighting the Reeves Hill wind farm and hopes the Welsh government's decision over the access road to the site will help stop it being built.

The group's chairman Stephen Hugh-Jones said: "We're opposed on various grounds. Perhaps the most important grounds in relation to Stanage Park is its impact on the landscape, on the particular cultural and historical setting and landscape of the Welsh border area, the marches area."

He added: "Because the developers have to put in an environmental impact assessment that gives a voice to both Powys council and to Powys residents.

"It gives a voice to people to re-examine the whole wind farm proposal as a whole and comment on not simply the impact on the road but also the cumulative impact of the wind farm on residents, on the landscape, et cetera."

Local assembly member Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said the case raises questions about the role of neighbouring authorities in planning applications.

She said: "I am really pleased that Powys county council have been backed up by the Welsh government.

"It will mean that my constituents will have an opportunity to truly express their views and that now we have more weight being given to the views of Powys county council and my constituents in this process.

There will be more on this story on the Sunday Politics programme on BBC1 Wales at 14:00 BST on Sunday.

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