Forest wind farm must not scope out effects on pine marten

The developer of a new wind farm must include in its environmental impact assessment (EIA) what impacts turbines and grid connections will have on nearby protected sites and species such as the pine marten, the Planning Inspectorate has said.

The inspectorate this month published a scoping opinion on the grid connection impacts of the 33 megawatt Alwen Forest onshore wind farm project in Wales. Under the The Wales Act 2017, all developments of national significance must be approved by Welsh ministers. 

If built, the Alwen Forest wind farm would be located within 2km of the Mynydd Hiraethog site of special scientific interest (SSSIs). 

In its scoping report, Natural Power Consultants Ltd on behalf of developer Innogy Renewables UK, hoped to exclude from the environmental statement the need to assess the potential impacts of the development on pine marten populations. 

But the inspectorate disagreed. 

While acknowledging that the approach to ecological assessment set out in the scoping report was considered "largely appropriate," the inspectorate said Innogy must present clear data with a “robust baseline” of affected species and habitats in its forthcoming environmental statement – including the ecological impacts of its grid connections. 

If given the go-ahead, the onshore wind farm would be located in Welsh Water-owned forest, which is leased out to the environmental regulator Natural Resources Wales (NRW). It would also be located near two other wind farms already under construction.

Natural Power said the farm would contribute to the Welsh Government’s commitment to see 70% of Wales’ electricity demand met by renewable sources by 2030.

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