Mynydd y Gwair wind farm: Swansea council backs new bid

February 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

wind farm protest

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There has been strong opposition to the Mynydd y Gwair proposals

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.

Gwenllian Elias of RWE npower renewables said the site had been chosen because Mynydd y Gwair was within the Welsh government’s strategic sites under the TAN8 policy for large scale wind development.

“And also it’s a very windy location, so we’ll have some very positive energy results,” she told BBC Wales.

“The proposed wind farm will actually create the equivalent energy needs of nearly 25,000 homes on average a year.”

Ms Elias said the company still needed to submit a further application for permission to the Welsh Government, as the proposed site is common land.

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

The Open Spaces Society had renewed its call to Swansea council to reject the latest application for the site.

It claimed the wind farm would destroy the “magnificent stretch of unspoilt common land”, eight miles (12km) north of Swansea.

The society’s general secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “The proposed development would rip the heart out of the common.

“Mynydd y Gwair is a breezy upland close to urban centres.

“It is of huge importance to local people for informal recreation -wild country on their doorstep.

“The public has the right to walk here and commoners have rights to graze their animals. It would be vandalism to site 16 wind-turbines on this land.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, local farmer Glyn Morgan, chairman of action group Save Our Common Environment (Socme), said the energy firm’s plan was “destruction at a grand scale”.

Projected view from St Illtyd's Walk

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“It’s a living, working landscape where the farmers depend on the common to graze their animals out on to,” Mr Morgan said.

‘Entirely suited’

“It is an important human and wildlife resource. We’ve got three walking clubs that have been set up in the area to go onto Mynydd y Gwair to enjoy the vista and the views.”

Following the decision Mr Morgan said the group was disappointed, but said the case was not “cut and shut” because the company still had to apply to the Welsh government.

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 last year.

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”.

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

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