Wales politics

Wind farms refusal short-sighted, says Welsh minister

Wind turbines (generic)
Image caption Many residents of Powys oppose wind farms because of their visual impact

The rejection of plans to build wind farms in mid Wales is "short sighted" and "hugely disappointing", the Welsh government's environment minister says.

Carl Sargeant said communities in Powys would lose millions of pounds and an opportunity to create jobs, claiming energy supply would be put at risk.

The UK government turned down plans to build four wind farms in Powys on Monday after a lengthy public inquiry.

A fifth was approved, but a plan for connecting powers lines was refused.

'Great opportunity'

UK ministers ordered a combined public inquiry which ran from June 2013 to May 2014, following public opposition to the plans.

Mr Sargeant told BBC Wales: "We recognise that there's a great opportunity for renewable energy in Wales, but they [the UK government] are doing everything they can to stop that, in planning terms and also some of their subsidy schemes.

"In Wales we are pro-wind power and renewable energy - in the UK government and, under the Conservatives, [they are] pro-fracking, which we are certainly not."

Image caption Hundreds of people have protested against onshore wind farm plans in Powys

As part of plans for further devolution, the Welsh government is in line to acquire new powers over energy.

That will move responsibility to approve projects larger than 350 megawatts from Westminster to Cardiff.

Mr Sargeant said businesses would find it difficult to understand why the UK government had not followed the advice of a planning inspector to approve some of the schemes in Powys.

"Wales is open for business," he said.

"We want to make sure that people want to invest in our communities, make sure that we have energy security long term."

The UK government has been asked to respond.

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