Conservationists are calling for one of Wales’ outstanding natural treasures to be saved from “industrial-scale” wind farming.
The Wildland Network (TWN) insist the Nant-y-Moch area near Machynlleth should be left alone as a bulwark against climate change rather than populated with giant turbines.
Nant-y-Moch is earmarked for the next generation of wind projects alongside the likes of the Clocaenog Forest, Denbighshire, and areas around Carno and Newtown.
WN fears wildlife and scenery concerns are being brushed aside in the rush for renewable energy.
“Future generations, as well as people today, will want special wild places as well as clean energy,” said TWN’s Stanley Owen.
The Welsh Assembly Government has declared Nant-y-Moch a TAN8 Strategic Search Area favouring major wind energy development. The Forestry Commission, which manages large areas of land within the SSA, has been tendering for power station projects of up to 100MW.
The area includes Nant-y-Moch and Dinas reservoirs, the Nant-y-Moch scenic drive, Artists’ Valley, Glaspwll, and historic Hyddgen – site of Glyndwr’s most famous victory.
The Cambrian Mountains Society (CMS) is also critical of the plans, having previously resisted – unsuccessfully – the development of Wales’ largest on-shore wind farm at Cefn Croes.
Conservationists are worried turbine spread will jeopardise several on-going collaborative projects in the region, including proposals for a Cambrian Mountains Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Dyfi Biosphere initiative and the Pumlumon Project, managed by the Welsh Wildlife Trusts.
Each claim their projects will build more sustainable economies, based on increased tourism and recreation opportunities, help with flood management, improve wildlife habitats and protect upland peat bogs’ roles as carbon sinks.
“All could dissolve into a huge missed opportunity if wind turbine developments are allowed to go ahead,” said Mr Owen.
Wind power opponents also point to the carbon emissions associated with large scale projects.
When Cefn Croes was being built, the CMS estimated 30,000 tonnes of concrete was used, emitting 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and 300 articulated lorry loads arrived on site.
The new generation of 140-metre turbines need foundations the size of half a football pitch.
Mr Owen said decision makers, in Cardiff and Westminster, must recognise their responsibility to protect special places like Nant-y-Moch.
He accused the Assembly government of “bypassing the democratic process” with its on-shore wind power policies.
“Developing a wildlife haven and awe-inspiring landscape with large-scale wind turbines cannot be the right way to proceed,” he added.
By Andrew Forgrave, Rural Affairs Editor
22 June 2007
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