A plan to build a wind farm on land south of Hirwaun has fallen at the first hurdle.
The application for nine turbines at Mynydd Bwllfa south of the A465 has been refused by RCT Council – against the advice of planning officers.
Anti-wind farm campaigners who packed the council chamber, burst in applause when the decision was announced.
Only two county borough councillors out of the 50-plus in attendance voted in favour of the plans to erect the turbines, which were rejected mainly for their visual impact on the landscape.
The application boundary covers the wards of Hirwaun Penywaun and Aberdare West/Llwydcoed although all the turbines would have been contained in the Aberdare West area.
During the application process, the development initially proposed 12 turbines but that was reduced to nine. At the planning meeting, Coun Gordon Bunn described the application for 115-125 metre high turbines at Mynydd Bwllfa, as “a rape on the landscape”, spoiling the view from the nearby Dare Valley Country Park.
John Jenkins, of South Wales Alternative to Turbines, said: “We were absolutely overwhelmed with the decision and the knowledge of the RCT councillors.
“The Valleys have a right to uplands tourism and we are pleased the council has been brave enough to fight under pressure from the Welsh Assembly.”
Dale Hart, from the turbine applicants Pennant Walters Ltd, spoke at the meeting but his arguments were not enough to sway councillors.
Graham Morris, from Cwmdare, said: “Dare Valley Country Park is a success story. It was transformed from industrial wasteland into the jewel in the crown it is today. This technology is flawed and will blot our beautiful landscape for years to come.”
But Phil Thomas, of PTC Civil Engineering in Aberdare, said his business would have benefited from the windfarm.
He said: “Our workforce is smaller than this time last year and we can’t see it getting better.
“As an ex-miner, I know the hardships unemployment can bring to families in the area.
“This application would bring local jobs to local people and boost our economy.”
More than 120 pro-forma letters of objection were received by RCT Council, as well as an 80-name petition. Some 44 letters of support for the application were also submitted.
Despite the protests, the development was expected to contribute £90,000 to the community every year, with all the turbines being linked to a 132kv on-site electricity substation to connect to the National Grid.
Councillors are given guidelines through the Welsh Assembly Government’s Tan8 scheme when considering individual applications for renewable energy, decided to vote against the measures.
But Coun Bunn said: “We are a planning committee and should make these decisions.
“What if the Welsh Assembly Government are wrong about Tan8? We could be stuck with these things for the next 25 years. We need to be true to ourselves.”
An RCT Council spokesman said: “The next stage for this application is for a further report to be considered by the same committee, which will explore the strengths and weaknesses of taking a decision against recommendations.
“No date has been set for this meeting.”
THE concept of wind farms always arouse strong emotions. Those in favour use the clean energy card as a strong argument for such projects.
But when a wind farm is sited in close proximity to established communities, then the views of local residents must be given high priority.
RCT councillors have taken a brave stance.
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