Largest onshore wind farm in UK to power 206000 homes

May 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

WALES is on course to become a centre for wind energy now that the biggest onshore wind farm in the UK has received the Westminster government’s green light.

Energy Minister Charles Hendry yesterday granted consent for a controversial 76-turbine wind farm located between Neath and Aberdare.

Developer Vattenfall predicts the Pen y Cymoedd project will power the equivalent of up to 206,000 homes a year. The turbines will be up to 145 metres high and have a total capacity of 299 megawatts (MW).

According to the Department for Energy and Climate Change it will have “the highest generating capacity of any onshore wind farm in England and Wales”.


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Vattenfall said it would cost around £300m to build the wind farm, creating or supporting around 300 jobs in Wales, and once a final investment decision has been taken construction could start next year with the first electricity generated in 2016.

Piers Guy, Vattenfall’s head of onshore wind development in the UK, said: “Pen y Cymoedd is a major project that could be worth more than £1bn to the UK economy. We have consistently stated our commitment to making sure that we maximise the value of Pen y Cymoedd to the region and to Wales. This is now our priority.”

The developer has pledged there will be a “community benefits package” which could be worth more than £55m.

This will include £3m for “habitat management” and “£6,000 a year per megawatt” to a Community Trust Fund.

The Conservative minister Mr Hendry said: “Onshore wind plays an important role in enhancing our energy security. It is the cheapest form of renewable energy and reduces our reliance on foreign fuel.

“This project in South Wales will generate vast amounts of home-grown renewable electricity and provide a significant benefits package for the local community.”

The UK Government said in a statement: “Neither of the relevant local authorities objected to the wind farm, subject to conditions covering such issues as construction, noise, archaeology, habitat management and hydrology being included in any planning permission granted. In response to concerns about possible effects on mining, conditions have been included to safeguard the future extraction of coal from under the site of the wind farm.

“The requested conditions are attached to the deemed planning permission. The onshore wind farm would be within an area identified as being suitable for large scale wind farm development by the Welsh Government, under Technical Advice Note 8 (Tan 8).”

Mike Clay, marketing manager at Machynlleth-based Dulas, one of the UK’s longest established renewable energy businesses, said: “The granting of consent illustrates that the planning policies of the Welsh Government, and the decision-making process by the UK Government for such developments can work together to deliver the Welsh Government’s ambitious targets for major carbon emissions reduction in Wales.

“The news also illustrates that a continuing dialogue between local authorities and wind farm developers is essential in ensuring that such developments are acceptable to host communities. We believe Pen y Cymoedd sets the model standard on how to develop and deliver large scale wind farms in Wales, and we trust that other developers will follow the same blueprint in the future.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “This project has the twin benefits of not only producing clean energy, but will also bring money into the local community. The community benefits are said to be £55m and we look forward to getting further details of these and working closely with the company to make sure this scheme delivers real benefits to those who live in the area.”

However, Ann West of the Cambrian Mountains Society, which is opposing a development at Nant y Moch at a site linked to Owain Glyndr, said wind energy is “dying and in its death throes”.

Meanwhile, Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan welcomed the installation of the first offshore components at the offshore Gwynt y Môr wind farm.

The Wales Office claimed Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm has awarded contracts worth more than £70m to companies in Wales.

Mrs Gillan said: “This announcement is excellent news for North Wales and the UK. In Wales, the energy sector is vitally important to our economy and this announcement reaffirms that Wales is perfectly placed to welcome inward investment from the renewable energy sector.

“When I visited Scotland in March, I met with met with senior managers at RWE and senior representatives of Scottish Development International to discuss how to attract greater inward investment into Wales. We already have a lot to be proud of: new offshore wind developments like North Hoyle, Rhyl Flats and now we can add Gwynt y Môr, which is a huge boost for the Welsh economy.”

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