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Clocaenog Wind Farm (Vale of Clwyd)

Volume 586: debated on Monday 13 October 2014

The Petition of residents of the Vale of Clwyd,

Declares that Clocaenog wind farm is currently being developed; further that the Petitioners believe that all cables connecting the wind farm to the electricity sub-station should be underground so as to minimise the visual impact on this beautiful area, to minimise the health risks to residents, to limit the devaluation in property prices and to respect the democratic will of the people of Henllan, Cefn Meiriadog and surrounding areas who unanimously voted to endorse the placing of these cables underground; further that Tir Mostyn, the first wind farm near Clocaenog Forest, placed its cables underground; and further that the offshore wind farms off the coast of Rhyl also placed its cables from the seashore to St Asaph underground.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage local authorities to ensure that planning inspectorates recognise and carefully consider local residents’ views when making planning permission decisions and further that the House urges the Government to encourage Denbighshire County Council to show the same consideration to residents’ views in relation to the development of the Clocaenog wind farm as it has in the development of other wind farms.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Chris Ruane, Official Report, 14 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 650.]

[P001366]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, received 8 October 2014:

There is a proposed electricity connection project to connect four onshore wind farms in North Wales, including Clocaenog. The project is being progressed within the nationally significant infrastructure planning regime, where it is classified as being at “pre-application” stage. The applicant (Scottish Power) aims to submit an application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate later in 2014.

The nationally significant infrastructure planning regime is designed to enable communities to engage early on and, in particular, to do so during the first three stages of the process: “pre- application”, “pre-examination” and “examination”. After the examination stage, the inspectors write a recommendation for Ministers, and after the ministerial decision there is an opportunity to make an application for Judicial Review.

Dealing first with the “pre-application stage”, this is when scheme proposers develop their application and during this period they are required to engage in significant consultation with local interests. The developer is required to submit a Statement of Community Consultation outlining their approach to consultation, and to work closely with the relevant local authority or authorities on this. Further details on pre-application guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ guidance-on-the-pre-application-process-for-major-infrastructure-projects .

At “application stage”, developers must demonstrate how they have taken notice of consultation responses, and summarise these in a consultation report to the Planning Inspectorate. An application will only be accepted for examination if the Planning Inspectorate is satisfied that the consultation requirement has been met, and the views of the local authority will be considered as part of that assessment.

The “pre-examination stage” begins once an application has been accepted for examination. The application is publicised to ensure that all relevant parties can be made aware, and people and organisations can then register to be involved in the process. Having registered (as an “Interested Party”), individuals and groups will then receive regular updates on progress with the application and have the right to request an open floor hearing as part of the examination.

During the “examination stage”, the “Examining Authority” for the application (comprising one or a small number of Planning Inspectorate inspectors) invites the local authority (or authorities) to provide a Local Impact Report on the likely effects of the development on the local area. Local residents who have registered as “Interested Parties” are notified and can make submissions to the Examining Authority.

All evidence available to the Examining Authority is available to “Interested Parties” and the wider public through the Planning Inspectorate website. The Planning Inspectorate publishes all documents submitted to them in connection with applications with the exception of draft or working documents which are incomplete or potentially misleading.

After the examination stage, the Examining Authority makes a recommendation to the relevant Secretary of State. The decision on any application for the proposed North Wales wind farm connection would be a matter for my Right Honourable Friend, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Once a decision has been issued by the Secretary of State, there is a six-week period during which the decision may be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.

In conclusion, the Planning Inspectorate administers the nationally significant infrastructure planning regime with openness, transparency and fairness, and ensures the affected local individuals, businesses, organisations and other interests have opportunities to understand and react to proposals to develop infrastructure projects.