The UK’s tallest wind turbines could be coming to Neath and Port Talbot. Measured from the ground to the tip of the blade, the giant structures would stand well over four times the height of Swansea’s big wheel, which is currently looming over the city.
With a planned tower of 120 metres and a blade length of 64 metres, they would also be nearly double the size of Swansea’s tallest building, planned for Meridian Quay.
But the proposal for 14 of the 603ft turbines in the Upper Afan Valley – roughly double the size of those at nearby Ffynnon Oer – has sparked uproar.
The 63MW Llynfi Renewable Energy Park scheme has been hatched by Spanish-owned Gamesa, based in Newport.
The park, which will also use solar power, will be split into two sites.
Project managers said it would generate enough clean electricity to meet the average UK domestic requirements of more than 35,000 homes.
The development consists of four turbines in Glyncorrwg and another 10 on the Gelli mountain, near Croeserw.
Glyncorrwg residents are already in the midst of a struggle to stop Eco2 putting up six turbines on Corrwg Fechan mountain.
Airtricity also has permission for a wind speed monitoring mast at Bryn Llydan, less than a mile from the village.
Earlier this year, villagers reformed Glyncorrwg Action Group, which fought off similar proposals 10 years ago.
Its spokesman Bob Slater said: “Local people feel they are under siege from wind farm companies which, in the case of Ffynnon Oer, have already blighted the landscape and people’s lives.
“It is not just a case of how these wind turbines look, it is the fact they are inefficient. The money would be better spent on insulating homes.
“If people want wind farms, they should be spread throughout the country and not dumped in this area, which is just recovering from the ravages of coal mining, and is trying to promote tourism.”
But a Gamesa spokesman pointed out that the proposal was strictly in line with Assembly planning policies.
He also revealed that each turbine would produce much more energy than its smaller counterparts.
He said: “The turbines that we are proposing have an output of 4.5MW, which means that fewer turbines could be used to capture more of the site’s wind energy resource.
“To put it into perspective, these machines are 10 times as powerful as the ones that can be seen from the M4 near Pencoed, and twice as powerful as those at Ffynnon Oer.”
The turbines would offset the emission of more than 142,480 tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide produced every year from fossil-fuelled power stations, the spokesman said.
He added that Gamesa would provide a community benefit fund worth at least £94,500 each year, and pointed out that consultation was at a very early stage.
By Bede MacGowan
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