CONTROVERSIAL plans for an 80-metre mast which could give way to a wind turbine have been approved on appeal.
Flintshire Wind Energy, a subsidiary of Mold-based West Coast Energy, had plans for a temporary mast refused by Flintshire Council in September, but a planning inspector has now overruled the decision.
The plan for the ‘anemometer’ mast, which measures and monitors wind speed and direction to assess suitability for wind farms, is for land at Ffrith y Garreg Wen between Caerwys and Lloc.
The company has held an exhibition about plans for three 115 metre turbines on the site, but a planning application has not yet been submitted.
Flintshire councillor Chris Dolphin, a member of Whitfield Community Council which represents the nearest residents to the proposed development, said: “It is no surprise but the big test will come in time to come when perhaps there’s an appeal for wind turbines in that area.
“It will have an effect on the view but in this day and age it would seem a view doesn’t matter.”
He added: “Green energy is good but it has to be weighed up against other aspects.
“It is far too near to a major road. It will be a huge distraction for drivers.”
Before it has to be dismantled, the temporary mast can be in place for three years on an area of pasture land overlooking the Clwydian Range and three miles from the designated area of outstanding beauty.
A report from the planning inspector, Siân Worden, said: “The openness of the landscape allows distant views in several directions including towards the Clwydian hills.
“It is, however, quite a cluttered landscape with telegraph poles crossing the fields, a service area and depot buildings clearly visible at junction 31, and two power lines converging within about 1.5 km of the appeal site.
“Although the proposed mast would be considerably taller than any of those features, it would have little mass and would be perceived as an insubstantial element in the landscape.
“The greater the distance between it and surrounding viewpoints, the less apparent it would be and, for the majority of viewers, its slim form would be indistinct against the backdrop of landscape and sky.”
The inspector said the proposal would “not spoil people’s enjoyment of this area of countryside which is already affected by the busy A55”.
The report added there were objections on the grounds that it would be a precursor to a wind farm, but said the application was considered on its own merits and would not set a precedent for a wind turbine.
Steve Salt, West Coast Energy planning and public affairs director, said: “We’re pleased to have been granted planning permission for the anemometer ‘met’ mast at Garreg Wen.
“We are currently assessing the suitability of the site, including the wind speed, and will be formulating a scheme in due course.
“This scheme will also take into account feedback received at the public consultation meeting held in December.”