Eight 400-ft wind turbines could soon tower over both Rhondda Valleys, if plans are approved this week.
But opponents of the plan accuse developers of trying to “bribe” the people of Treorchy and Maerdy with a £1.25m trust fund.
Renewable Energy Partnerships Ltd has applied to build a windfarm on land between Maerdy coal tip and Tynewydd forest.
Planning officers have recommended councillors give the green light at this week’s meeting – despite dozens of objection letters.
In a report to the Rhondda Area Development Control Committee, legal and democratic services chief Paul Lucas writes: “The site, which measures 206.5 hectares, is located on a steep-sided plateau on the ridge-line that separates the Rhondda Fach and Rhondda Fawr valleys.
“It is a gently undulating plateau of upland rough grazing land which mainly consists of peat bog, marshy grassland and acid grassland.”
The proposal is to build eight 80m towers, each with three 45m rotor blades. All turbines will stand on separate square bases, each containing 600 cubic metres of concrete – or 1,400 tonnes each. A ninth spire, housing wind-monitoring equipment, is also proposed. It is expected that the eight towers would generate enough electricity to supply 13,600 homes each year. There are just short of 100,00 homes in Rhondda Cynon Taff.
Mr Lucas adds that the developers promise to set up trust funds for Maerdy and Treorchy, which would share £50,000 a year for the lifespan of the wind farm, totalling a potential £1.25m windfall.
Alternatively, the communities could opt for a £600,000 one-off lump sum when the windfarm opens.
But 61-year-old Mr Middlehurst, of Eileen Place, Tynewydd, said: “That’s just a bribe, in my opinion. The council want this because it sends the message that we’re an environmentally-friendly authority.
“We are encouraged to save energy, and generate new energy, but in South Wales we’re not focusing on our asset – tidal energy.
“In the Bristol Channel we’ve got the second largest tidal range in the world, and the potential for power is beyond anything that could be achieved with these wind factories.”
In his report Mr Lucas notes other residents raised other concerns, varying from noise pollution to the threat turbines pose to endangered birds such as Peregrine Falcons and Red Kites.
Objectors say these factors would combine to decrease tourism and deter investment in the Rhondda. But despite these concerns, council officers recommend the committee votes in favour of the plans at tomorrow’s meeting.
Mr Lucas writes: “Although the comments of the objectors are appreciated, the Welsh Assembly Government clearly identifies on-shore wind farms as the main technology for fulfilling the 2010 renewable energy target.
“Given the size and location of the turbines, the greatest impact from the proposed development would be on the quality of the landscape and visual amenity of the area.
“However, this harm must be balanced against the benefits of the proposal.”
by Alex Moore, Rhondda Leader
27 March 2008
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