A halt has been demanded to the Rhyl Flats windfarm scheme over allegations about misleading the public and concerns about the potential flood risk.
Campaigners presented their case to the Welsh Assembly petitions committee to demand a full public inquiry is undertaken into the npower renewables project to place 30 turbines on Constable Bank, off the coast of Llandudno and Colwyn Bay.
They alleged that the public was not given a proper chance to comment on the plans because of a “deliberate deception” in the original proposal by Celtic Offshore Wind Limited (COWL) over the location of the site.
They also say an independent inquiry is required to assess the environmental impact of the work on Constable Bank and its potential damage to the tourist trade.
The committee will now write to the minister for sustainability and the minister for heritage requesting that independent studies are commissioned.
Save Our Scenery chairman John Lawson Reay said: “We believe this was a planning blunder and that work should be halted while a public inquiry is carried out on this and the Gwynt y Môr proposal.
“We request this as a matter of urgency and want the Assembly to suspend the licence to carry out work on the sea bed until a review has been carried out.
“They deliberately misled the public which led to people being unaware of the true location of this project.”
The Rhyl flats project was developed by COWL, who received full consent in 2002 to operate the scheme. npower purchased the project from COWL in December 2002.
In July 2007, offshore foundation construction at the site began with installation of rocks on the sea bed at the turbine locations to prevent erosion. The first turbines are expected to start generating in November, with completion anticipated in July 2009.
Once operational, the windfarm will produce enough electricity every year to meet the average needs of approximately 61,000 homes.
But the scheme has been dogged by controversy over its location on the Constable Bank and its potential damage to tourism and the bank itself.
AM Darren Millar said: “The North Wales tourism industry is not indestructible and this could cause huge damage in Llandudno, Colwyn Bay and Rhos-on-Sea.
“‘I am also very concerned that the construction of this windfarm could undermine the integrity of the Constable Bank, which has provided our coast with an extremely effective natural flood defence for centuries and more work must be done to ensure this protection will not be destabilised by the work.”
A spokesman for npower said: “We’re not sure why the original developer of the site called it Rhyl Flats but this is the name it has been consented under and we believe changing the name will just confuse people further.
“All the maps and charts submitted by COWL in its application for consent show the position of the windfarm to be the eastern end of Constable Bank, and the coordinates provided are correct for this location.
“npower renewables has made the location of Rhyl Flats absolutely clear in all its public material regarding the project since purchasing the site.”
by Owen R Hughes
13 March 2008
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