Campaigners from rural Wales are celebrating after a long campaign against proposals for large-scale windfarm developments in upland Mid Wales. Powys County Council's cabinet decided on Tuesday afternoon to reject two applications for wind power projects.
After the meeting, protest organiser Richard Bonfield said he was "delighted" with the decision, and welcomed a public inquiry that would look at windfarm proposals in great detail.
The council has previously voted twice to reject the plans - and whilst the final decision will be made by Westminster's Department of Energy and Climate Change, the protesters are now hoping that the drawn-out debate through a public inquiry will at worst win them some concessions from the present plan.
On Tuesday morning, developers were due to outline their plans for two large-scale projects, including the controversial Carnedd Wen site in Montgomeryshire. They have a deadline too: as part of the Kyoto agreement, Britain's signed up to provide a significant amount of its power from renewable resources by 2020. That means that plans like this across Britain will have to come online soon if we're to get anywhere near making the renewable targets we're signed up to, as well as meeting a power shortfall as nuclear and coal-powered sites are decommissioned in the coming years.
Last year saw a major campaign from protestors - over fifteen hundred people travelled from Mid Wales to Cardiff Bay to protest the plans, maybe two thousand attended the council meeting in Welshpool which saw Powys officially oppose the development. The campaign has been visual as well as verbal. One of the first things you see driving in from England to Wales is a large trailer - the sort dragged by lorries - with ten-feet-high words saying 'No pylons'. Park up in a supermarket car park and stuck to a car window is a child's drawing saying exactly the same.
The developers, RWE Renweables, have commissioned independent research saying the process of building and operating the wind turbine sites will bring millions and possibly more than fifty jobs to the area. The protestors claim that in a region which depends on tourism for a major part of its income, no-one will ever work out the cost of lost business if tourists turn away.Today they're expecting maybe a hundred campaigners. The meetings were streamed onto the web because Powys doesn't expect to be able to hold everyone who'd like to attend in person at County Hall in Llandrindod Wells - and the best those campaigners say they're hoping for is not just a simple refusal, but a refusal for a number of reasons. The more reasons, the more in-depth the public inquiry, the more time it will take. For the developers, there's that climate change deadline. Time is both the friend and the enemy of both sides of this argument in rural Wales.