Mynydd y Gwair wind farm: Swansea council backs new bid

 
An artist impression of the Mynydd y Gwair site An artist impression of how the turbines would look at Mynydd y Gwair

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Plans for a controversial wind farm at a beauty spot near Swansea have won the support of councillors - by just three votes.

There had been considerable local opposition to the proposals at Mynydd y Gwair in Felindre, with claims turbines will spoil the area's natural beauty.

Last year Appeal Court judges in London overturned an earlier decision allowing a 19-turbine plan.

Councillors backed a new 16-turbine scheme by 27 votes to 24.

It followed a decision by energy firm RWE npower renewables to resubmit its application for the wind farm.

The company said the 48 megawatt (MW) project would provide energy for nearly 25,000 homes.

It involves building the 16 turbines, the tips of the blades measuring some 400ft (121m) tall, on a 1,200ft (365m) high hill overlooking the Bristol Channel.

"We are thrilled with the result," said Bethan Edwards of RWE npower renewables on BBC Radio Wales.

"It was a lengthy meeting and there was robust debate throughout the meeting where all the issues were considered, including a lot of the concerns that were raised by Mr Morgan [objector Glyn Morgan].

"We have a common land application to be submitted and that is the next stage of the application, and obviously throughout that we will be proactively working with the commoners and with the local people to deal with their concerns.

"What we're really excited about is the potential for the economic benefits and the green jobs that this project could create for Swansea."

FOR AND AGAINST

  • Two petitions with 776 names and 1,263 letters of objection
  • Objectors include Save Our Common Mountain Environment group, Mawr Walking Club, Swansea Ramblers, Rhiwfawr Action Group, West Glamorgan Commoners Association, Brecon Beacons Park Society and Pontarddulais Town Council
  • 504 letters of support, including on economic benefits
  • South Wales Chamber of Commerce writing in favour
  • Source: Swansea Council

The proposals for Mynydd y Gwair have been the focus of a long running dispute.

Reacting to the council's decision on Thursday evening, local farmer Glyn Morgan, chairman of action group Save Our Common Mountain Environment (Socme), told BBC Radio Wales the energy firm's plan was "total destruction of an environment".

"It will totally change the area from an agriculturally-based landscape to an industrial one," he said.

"Everybody who has driven across Mynydd y Gwair towards Ammanford in the last three or four months will see those monstrosities that are being built on Mynydd y Betws.

"We argued that putting two wind farms next to each other will incredibly increase the accumulative effect - you will just see blades and the total destruction of an environment."

Mr Morgan said the group was disappointed by the decision, but said the case was not a foregone conclusion because the company still had to apply to the Welsh government.

"We shall have to take a bit of time now and regroup and see what our options are," he said.

"They will still need planning... because it is to be built on common land so it's not a cut and shut case at the moment."

The company said it would look to replace common land and it wanted to work with the commoners throughout the development "to minimise any impact that the project may have on them and their livestock".

The original plans for Mynydd y Gwair were rejected by Swansea councillors after it emerged the original 19 turbines would rise to a height of up to 127m (416ft).

It led to a public inquiry, which again rejected the plans, before a High Court judge agreed to the proposals in July 2011.

However, the Appeal Court then blocked the development in March last year.

The court said it recognised that a wind farm would be acceptable on the current site, if harm to the peat land could be avoided.

The company said the updated design with the revised plan was "entirely suited to its location".

Meanwhile the head of the UK's largest renewable energy producer warns that Wales will lose out on wind farm investment unless the planning process speeds up.

Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, says proposed projects in Wales are taking longer and costing more than in other parts of the UK, notably Scotland.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 76.

    The EU helped entrench the concept and practice of subsidies for all manner of projects, including wind farms. Without subsidies life would become unbearable/unprofitable/a shock for many. When will this govt. stop the practice of endless large-scale subsidising and focus on the little guy who does create local employment: pro rata probably more than a conglomerate?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 75.

    #63 Regarding pragmatism, we need reliable, efficent power sources. Wind power is far and away the worst of the renewables, but it's heavily funded because various vested interests are more interested in collecting subsidies.

    If we were being pragmatic about renewables we would realise we have more than enough wind power, and are criminally short of other types, not to mention non-renewables

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 74.

    We can either move to 'green' energy sources of our own free will, or in a few decades we'll be forced to by a lack of fossil fuels.

    Which will be cheaper in the long run do you think?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 73.

    Forget profit making rip off companies. This issue will never be resolved because everyone refuses to address energy waste, leaks and unnecessary usage. Cutting back without compromising lifestyle is very very easy, why it's not done is because people, like sheep, need to be told to do so! You reap what you sow suckers!

  • rate this
    +29

    Comment number 72.

    I know most people won't agree but I don't actually find wind turbines that ugly. I remember people complaining that electricity and phone pylons would destroy our countryside but I barely even notice them now. It's about time we invested more in renewal energy and as a country we have plenty of wind!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 71.

    Better than nucler waste poisoning the whole country.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 70.

    @65 - they have a generation efficiency of around 30%. Coal fired power stations don't do much better. As for the aesthetics - this is a personal opinion. I like them, and would welcome them locally to where I live.

    BTW - nuclear power? I'm for this too. I live three miles from a nuclear plant. We need them as well. It's not an 'either/or' choice any more than having energy security is.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 69.

    53.swerdna
    We need more electricity supplies"

    Or dare i suggest we aim a lot more on cutting down on our energy use as well??

    eg: empty Business parks at night turning off their lights at night & weekends, turning off computer monitors when not in use also.

    We could be saving so much but little emphasis or motivation is put on these savings.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 68.

    61. jeannette

    "The erection of wind turbines is a specialised job and teams will be brought in from elsewhere, no none in Swansea will get a job on this project!."

    Also most jobs created will only be temporary. Once construction is complete only a small maintenance team will be needed - probably only part time on each site.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 67.

    Wales is a beautiful place with the most stunning scenery. . . . . . . Humans eh?!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 66.

    56.JPublic
    And you beleive that is morally right for us humans to ride roughshod over wildlife for our own 'wants'??

    Well, I wouldn't put it like that, but "yes".

    There isn't a square mile of the UK that hasn't been molded by humans for our own ends over the past few thousand years. Without "riding roughshod" over wildlife,as you put it, we'd have no agriculture, roads, energy, cities etc etc.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 65.

    Personally, I think wind farms are a waste of money. They only work about a third of the time, and don't create much energy. Plus, they're an eyesore.

    People need to get their heads out of the sand and realise that nuclear power is the way forward, and stop thinking that mega-tsunamis are going to hit the Irish & North sea.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 64.

    They're hideous, grossly inefficient monstrosities that lead to the destruction of the immediate environment. Not only that, but they only exist because of massive subsidy and politician's naivety and gullibility. It's even worse where I live in Scotland. There soon won't be one landscape or seascape that isn't ruined by their presence. The Scottish Government & Welsh Assembly should be ashamed.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 63.

    Sometimes pragmatism has to win out - we NEED more wind farms.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 62.

    We shouldn't be dictated to on what power we should have to use, based upon spurious science. What should remove subsidies power providers, protect private property rights & let people decide themselves.

    We don't need bureaucrats telling us what to do. Freedom to innovate took us off coal power onto oil in the 19-20th century, it can take us oil if we let it innovate again in the 21st century

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 61.

    The erection of wind turbines is a specialised job and teams will be brought in from elsewhere, no none in Swansea will get a job on this project!. Turbines only work part time, as bits drop off if the wind is too strong.and why don't people plant trees around the wretched things?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 60.

    If wind farms prove to be making a loss in the future who will pay for this. Will it be the people who build them or will it be added to our fuel bills?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 59.

    Why no Barrage across the Severn??
    Why has Hydro Electric been side-lined in favour of silly windmills

    Qui bono? Who has business interests in the windmill companies??

    Politicians yet again have their hands in the till!

  • rate this
    +19

    Comment number 58.

    #43 Have a look at the info about the tidal turbine that's been tested in Strangford lough. It's in the megawatt range and is having virtually no effect on the wildlife. How well it would work in a slower moving tidal zone I'm not sure, but it would be worth building some to find out.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 57.

    @50 - yes, they do get turned off when it is too windy. Usually when the wind is above 90mph or so. Or 'Force 12' and above. Do you commonly experience such windspeeds where you live? When we get this sort of wind where I live, we're generally worried more about the house staying in one piece than we are about distant wind turbines not turning...

 

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