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Cash package drop in ocean

Campaigners have slammed a last minute attempt by energy giant npower renewables to gain support for the Gwynt-y-Môr offshore windfarm.

The company has come up with a £50 million, 50-year benefits package to offset any adverse impact the 230 turbine development would have on local communities.

But campaigners say this reinforces their belief it will have a negative effect on tourism.

“Their late introduction of a community benefits package is a clear admission that tourism is in jeopardy,” said Mike Pritchard of pressure group Save Our Promenade.

“Llandudno’s tourism is worth £575m per annum, and in one year a 10% drop in that income would exceed npower’s total 50-year package for the whole coastline between here and the Wirral.”

npower is proposing to give £1m a year for the operational life of the windfarm to community projects along the coast which could be educational, charitable or environmental.

In addition it is proposing a Llandudno tourism programme which would support initiatives aimed at bringing tourists to the resort. Among the proposals is one to fund a full-time “town centre champion” at a cost of up to £80,000 a year for three years, with the brief of promoting the town.

They are also offering £150,000 over three years to fund an advertising campaign aimed at promoting tourism, and £300,000 over three years for tourism development projects identified by the champion.

And they are willing to open a visitor centre on the Great Orme which would provide information about Gwynt-y-Mor and other offshore windfarms.

But the package doesn’t impress objectors.

“The funds will be spread across the whole of North Wales and the Wirral,” said Mr Pritchard.

“Llandudno will be the main town at risk and the benefits will be insignificant. Tourism projects suggested by the town centre champion may need additional funding, but where will this come from?”

“Three years of advertising is not a long-term solution to the impact on tourism this development will create, and we already have a visitor centre on the Orme, so we don’t need another promoting npower.”

In 2006 Conwy County Council voted to oppose the project.

Conwy County Council’s planning committee were deciding yesterday on their response to the Government’s consultation on the proposal.

by Judith Phillips

North Wales Weekly News

13 December 2007