South West Wales

Mynydd y Gwair wind farm plans blocked

Mynydd y Gwair
Image caption Campaigners say Mynydd y Gwair is "loved by thousands of people"

Campaigners are claiming victory in a fight to stop a £52m wind farm from being built on common land in Swansea.

Deputy minister Rebecca Evans has effectively blocked the plans for 16 turbines at Mynydd y Gwair, near Felindre, after considering a planning inspector's report.

RWE Innogy UK has permission for the turbines but it needed to deregister the common land and provide alternative space but that has been refused.

The firm may resubmit an application.

Swansea council gave the plans for the turbines the go ahead in 2013.

But the planning inspector, after a string of hearings in Swansea last year, found that ancient rights of way and sheep hefts would have vanished and the drainage of the area, which is riddled with old mine workings, would have been disrupted by the development.

'Exhilarating views'

Local people, including farmers, have been fighting the plans for years, taking their case to the appeal court. Their judges overturned permission for 19 turbines, forcing RWE to submit a smaller scheme.

Campaigners at the Open Spaces Society welcomed the decision of the deputy minister for farming and food, with general secretary Kate Ashbrook claiming the plans would have allowed the land to be "degraded and destroyed by industrial development".

She added: "Mynydd y Gwair is a very special place on Swansea's doorstep, where walkers and riders have the right to roam and can enjoy the freedom, fresh air and exhilarating views.

"It is loved by thousands of people, and the graziers rely on it for their livelihoods."

RWE Innogy UK's development manager Gwenllian Elias said: "For this application to be turned down, despite the project itself aligning with Welsh government policy on renewables and onshore wind is profoundly disappointing and frustrating.

"It is within Welsh government's own TAN 8 designated development area, already has planning permission from the City and County of Swansea, and a seal of approval as a value for money scheme from the Department of Energy and Climate Change in its first CfD subsidy auction earlier this year.

"We will need to review the reasons behind the decision with a view to resubmitting a new common land application."

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