The fight to create a £6.5 million four-turbine wind farm in the Swansea Valley is being taken to the High Court.Environmental charity Awel Aman Tawe has decided to challenge the Assembly planning inspector’s decision to turn down their community wind farm.
The plans for a site at Mynydd y Gwrhyd, near Pontardawe, were originally thrown out by Neath Port Talbot Council last year.
Today the chairman of the trustees of Awel Aman Tawe, Ken Maddocks, said: “Local people voted for this wind farm in an independent referendum managed by the Electoral Reform Services.
“All profits from the wind farm would go into micro-renewables, energy efficiency and other environmental projects.
“We have been overwhelmed by messages of support from people wanting us to submit a challenge.”
If given the go-ahead the project could create up to 32 new jobs.
Mr Maddocks said: “We are especially critical of two aspects of the decision.
“Firstly, the inspector concluded that ‘it cannot be argued that (the development) is required to meet the national need for renewable energy production.’
“To the ordinary person hearing about climate change on the news every day, this is a ridiculous statement.”
If granted the wind farm would generate clean energy in the Swansea and Amman Valleys for almost 7,000 homes. The project would also generate construction contracts for local suppliers worth an estimated £1.5 million.
The bid drew 1,774 letters of objection and 1,148 letters and emails of support.
Mr Maddocks said benefits to the community were “disregarded” by the planning inspector.
“We want to work with the Assembly to achieve and surpass its targets for wind energy by 2010.
“At the moment, it looks as though the targets are going to be missed by a long way.”
Neath AM Gwenda Thomas, who has strongly opposed Awel Aman Tawe’s plans, said: “I defend their right to go through the due process of law, but my understanding is that they can only challenge on a point of law.
“When the community voted they voted on quite a different project than this turned out to be.”
By Shaun Greeney
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