News that rare red squirrels have been sighted in forest land overlooking the Teifi Valley should lead to a halting of the controversial Blaengwen wind farm development.
That’s the message from the opponents to the construction of 10 340ft wind turbines on the edge of Brechfa Forest, which is one of the Tan 8 strategic areas designated for renewable energy development.
The campaigners, who are hoping to have the development called in by the Assembly, have had their position strengthened by renowned Welsh wildlife celebrity Iolo Williams.
Mr Williams recently revealed that Brechfa was home to small numbers of the lovable native species.
The plans for the wind farm, situated near Pencader, were approved by Carmarthenshire councillors in March 2007.
The project, developed by Force 9 Energy in partnership with Catamount Cymru Cyf, is expected to produce 23MW of electricity by next autumn.
Speaking to the Carmarthen Journal, Iolo Williams said: “They [red squirrels] were filmed in Brechfa recently for a TV series I have on S4C.
“The Countryside Council for Wales has put a lot of money into a project about red squirrels. I would hope they would keep an eye on what’s going on [at Blaengwen].
“If the wind farm does impinge on them in any way, they should throw it out.
“There are maybe four small areas in Wales where red squirrels are holding on in the wild – and I mean just holding on. They are Angelsey, two areas in North Wales and here at Brechfa. It’s very sad.”
Iolo admitted that he didn’t know the exact boundary of the wind farm or the distribution of the red squirrels at Brechfa.
Blaengwen Objectors Group chairman Richard Payne said: “They’re going to be taking a certain amount of the tree lines down and the infrasound, and the sound of the blades, could kill the colony off. We’ve said several times that there was an endangered species there.”
Mr Payne admitted that, from the objectors’ point of view, the discovery of the red squirrel colony would be “a grace”.
A spokeswoman for public relations company Pendragon, which represents Force 9 and Catamount Cymru Cyf, said: “We did undertake a survey, and there were none [red squirrels] inhabiting the site at the time.”
She added that there was no evidence that wind turbine developments had a harmful effect on red squirrels.
Carmarthenshire Council wind farm case officer David Poulter stated: “There is no habitat suitable for red squirrels on the Blaengwen wind farm site.”
26 March 2008
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