The face of the waterfront in Cardiff and Barry could be changed forever, with plans to build wind farms on dockland sites.
Ports company ABP has brought in experts to look at the possibility building wind turbines on its sites across South Wales.
The company owns the docks sites in both Cardiff and Barry.
Supporters of wind farms argue they are important to reduce the need for fossil fuels, but wind farms are often controversial, with opponents arguing they are unsightly.
Eclipse Energy will now spend most of next year carrying out a major study on ABP’s dockland sites at Cardiff, Barry, Newport, Port Talbot and Swansea.
Peter Sills, spokesman for Eclipse Energy, said: “It is an exciting project. There will be wide consultation with the public and we shall carry out environmental and other surveys. We are planning to hold a public exhibition of the plans where people will be able to put their views.
“These environmental and technical feasibility studies and consultations will continue throughout 2008 and we will then make decisions and submit the necessary planning applications.
“Since this is at a very early stage we have not identified any specific sites or decided on the number of wind turbines.
“The plans are in line with a Welsh Assembly Government study on the potential for wind power in urban, industrial and commercial sites of Wales”.
John Fitzgerald, ABP’s port director, South Wales Ports, said: “We have always considered our South Wales ports as potential sites for the development of new wind energy installations, and we are therefore very keen to see the results of Eclipse’s evaluation of our land. We believe our South Wales ports have the potential to become an energy hub for the renewable sector.”
The news received a mixed welcome from people living on the Cardiff and Barry waterfronts.
Barry Waterfront resident Claire Cocks said she was not opposed to a wind farm scheme.
“If it is good for the environment, them I’m all for it,” she said. “Of course, it would depend on the location. We would not want it to be an eyesore or create more noise.”
But not all were so certain of the benefits of waterfront wind farm schemes.
St David’s Hotel and Spa duty manager Chris Jordan said: “It might affect the view for the guests. The whole purpose of the hotel being built here was to have views of the sea. This would detract from those views.”
Councillor Andrew Dobbinson, who lives on the Barry Waterfront and is chairman of the Vale council’s planning committee, said any scheme would have to be looked at carefully.
“We are currently looking at an increasing number of applications for wind turbines in domestic settings like gardens, especially in the light of the ever-increasing cost of fuel,” he said.
“I’m supportive of this, but we have to be mindful of the noise they can create and the visual impact. But in a waterfront setting like Barry it is easier to design wind turbines that are more complementary to the area than it would be if they were built in rural settings.”
By Peter Collins
6 December 2007
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