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Wind farm plans prompt fears over coastal defence scheme

22 Apr 2022 4 minute read
Picture by Andy Dingley (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

Denbighshire County Council fears a new offshore wind farm could impact its own coastal defence scheme and Rhyl Golf Club.

Before Christmas RWE Renewables conducted a pre-application consultation for its proposed offshore wind farm between Colwyn Bay and Llanfairfechan.

RWE Renewables put forward plans for two options. Option A was for 48 larger turbines and option B for 91 smaller structures.

The company is yet to submit its final plans, meaning councillors remain in the dark about exactly what is proposed – which includes the exact number and size of the turbines.

At a planning committee meeting, councillors considered the council’s response to this pre-application consultation, which took place between August and October 2021.

Whilst the wind farm itself is proposed to be sited off the Conwy coast, high voltage underground cables are proposed to be installed from the landfall location at Rhyl golf course, leading to a new substation west of St Asaph Business Park.

Although the exact details are yet to be revealed, this has led to councillor concerns about the future of the golf club – as well as Denbighshire’s coastal defence plans.

Sea defence barrier

Rhyl Golf Club closed in December 2021 for 15 months whilst Denbighshire started work on its sea defence barrier at the course on the boundary between Prestatyn and Rhyl.

Denbighshire’s response to the pre-application consultation reads: “The Council does not object to the principle of the development, however there are significant concerns with regards to works proposed at the landfall location in relation to the interaction with existing and proposed flood defences and the operation and future viability of Rhyl Golf Club; and in relation to the location, siting and scale of the proposed onshore substation.

“The Council also have concerns with the scale of the offshore windfarm proposed and the impacts it would have on regional interests.”

The report references the council’s sea defence plans, which include the embankment under construction at Rhyl Golf Club near Green Lanes in Prestatyn.

With respect to the landfall location, the Council would advise that, in addition to existing coastal flood defences, a programme of new and improved defences are proposed along the Denbighshire coast.

“This includes the East Rhyl coastal defence project which is currently under construction; proposed improved sea defences in central Rhyl; and a proposed coastal embankment at Rhyl Golf Club.

“It is noted that the landfall location proposed is at Rhyl Golf Club, and therefore there is the potential for the proposal to directly impact upon existing and proposed coastal flood defences and the function and viability of Rhyl golf club.”

Delegated authority

At the planning committee, councillors also voted unanimously in favour of granting planning officers delegated authority to provide feedback to Welsh Government on the proposed wind farm.

RWE Renewables will now submit a Development Consent Order for the wind farm to the planning inspectorate Wales. Once this happens, local authorities have a short window where they can submit a local impact report, raising concerns and matters of contention.

But, due to the forthcoming elections, the next planning committee meeting will not take place till June. This means councillors will miss the opportunity to submit further feedback before a full public consultation goes ahead.

Consequently, Denbighshire’s planning committee has given delegated authority to its officers to send their representations to Welsh Government.

Because the wind farm is deemed to be a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, consent is issued through the enactment of a Development Consent Order, rather than planning permission. Development Consent Orders are submitted to and assessed by the Planning Inspectorate and determined by the UK Secretary of State.

Cllr Peter Scott proposed councillors agree to allow officers to submit a local impact report under delegated powers. This was seconded by Cllr Mark Young, and the decision was unanimous.

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