Fresh controversy is brewing after First Minister Rhodri Morgan announced wind turbines could spring up on Forestry Commission land.
Mr Morgan told an audience at the Liberty Stadium yesterday that wind farm developers are to come up with plans for the land, which lies in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire as well as Mid and North Wales.
Opponents said it should be left alone for walkers and tourists.
Mr Morgan insisted Wales had to take action to combat climate change by increasing its production of renewable energy and that wind farms were, for the time being, the best method of doing that.
“Wind energy is a renewable energy technology that is commercially viable on a large scale and our weather and geography means we are well placed to use it,” he said.
“We want to encourage wind energy and it was only right that we assessed the possibilities of having wind farms on suitable areas of Assembly Government-owned Forestry Commission land.
He added: “I am extremely conscious of the debate on wind farms and I would like to reassure people that all the developments will be subject to the normal independent processes of planning approval.
“But I also want to stress that we must address climate change and we must accept that wind power is crucial in our drive to generate more electricity from renewable sources.
“Action over the next 10 years is absolutely vital.”
The Assembly Government is falling behind renewable energy targets set for 2010.
But Mr Morgan made clear the designated land had already been earmarked for potential wind farm sites back in 2005.
Wind farm opponent Bob Slater, of , said: “We don’t think Forestry Commission land should be used for this purpose.
“It should be used for recreation and to encourage tourism, and wind farms will deter tourism.”
26 October 2007
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