Page last updated at 17:48 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 18:48 UK

Legal challenge to farmer's green scheme in Talgarth

The Jones family from Talgarth, near Brecon (Photo: The Brecon & Radnor Express)
The Jones family want to build an anaerobic digester on their farm

A national park has launched a legal challenge against the Welsh Assembly Government after it said a green energy plant could be built on a farm.

The Jones family from Talgarth, near Brecon, Powys, finally got the go-ahead in January to build an anaerobic digester after a public inquiry.

But Brecon Beacons National Park has lodged a High Court appeal against the process used to make the decision.

The assembly government said it could not comment at the moment.

The challenge by the national park is the latest setback for farming brothers Paul and Gary Jones.

Paul Jones said with a low return from farming, he and his family decided to diversify into taking waste (gut content) from a local abattoir, with the aim of turning the gas from it into green energy.

The appeal has cost our business a large amount of money which we feel we should never have had to spend
Farmer Paul Jones

The waste rots down and is then spread on fields as a fertilizer.

"We came up with the idea to install an anaerobic digester, which would produce green energy, reduce our reliance on artificial fertilizer, capture the methane and carbon dioxide from the waste we take and also provide our business with a sustainable income," said Mr Jones.

In September 2007, the family submitted an application for the plant.

It was awarded planning permission in 2008, but that was withdrawn last year, claimed Mr Jones.

'Setting a precedent'

The Joneses appealed the decision and a judicial review was held. The Welsh Assembly Government's planning inspector then said the project was free to proceed.

Mr Jones added: "The appeal has cost our business a large amount of money which we feel we should never have had to spend.

"Future applications in Wales would now have a precedent to be judged by for which we had had to pay for, although we were so pleased to have a positive outcome and that we were putting the appeal behind us and looking forward to our exciting project which was timetabled to be in operation by the end of 2010."

But the national park said the decision "did not explain the way in which the inspector applied planning policy".

A spokeswoman added: "The national park authority has considered the inspector's decision to allow the appeal at Great Porthamel Farm in Talgarth and believes the decision does not explain the way in which the inspector applied planning policy.

"This lack of explanation is likely to have adverse implications for future applicants who apply for planning permission under the farm diversification policy, as we do not know how the inspector applied the policy in this case.

"In order to assist future applicants, we feel we have little choice but to challenge the inspector's decision due to the lack of reasoning."

A spokeswoman for the assembly government said the case was well known to its officials, but they could not comment as it was going through the High Court.

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