An important ruling by Carmarthenshire Council could change the way new windfarms are considered in the county.
At a recent meeting of the full council, it was agreed to extend the buffer zone around any wind turbines from 500 metres to 1,500 metres.
Brought by Llanfihangel-ar- Arth councillor Linda Evans, the motion was overwhelmingly supported by councillors of all political parties.
She said afterwards: “I was over the moon it was passed.”
It means that the council’s new Unitary Development Plan (UDP) in 2013 will be changed so the council’s policy is that development closer than 1,500 metres will not be allowed.
Critically, however, this does not affect the two current applications which have already been submitted to the council, as they will more than likely be determined on the current policy as it stands.
These applications include plans for 12 turbines north of Abergorlech in the Brechfa forest and 21 turbines on Mynydd Llanllwni.
Neither will it affect the existing ten turbines that have already been built at Alltwalis.
Mrs Evans said the matter was brought up following complaints from people living near the Alltwalis windfarm.
They complain about intermittent noise from the turbines.
Mrs Evans added: “I think people have understood we can only take so much.
“These turbines are ruining people’s lives. Unfortunately, these changes are not going to help them.”
She said one turbine had been turned off from 11pm until 6am because of noise from the gearbox, but residents had complained other turbines in the group were also noisy.
She added: “Residents are phoning the local helpline at least once or twice a week and it takes the company several days to do anything about it. If a dog barks at night, action is soon taken to sort it out, but often nothing is done about the turbine noise.
“The noise level at night is not a new problem. Residents have dealt with this burden for far too long.”
Resident Jim Shepherd said: “The whole Alltwalis operation could be as little as five per cent of what may be in store.
“While the 61 proposed turbines are common knowledge, many farmers on the Pencarreg side are already in receipt of substantial sign-up fees.
“There is at least potential for between 27 and 40 more wind generators.”
He called on the council to employ an independent sound engineer.
Speaking on behalf of Statkraft, the company which runs Alltwalis windfarm, Rob Fellows said the firm had always been compliant with the noise conditions set out when planning was granted.
He said: “Over the past 16 months, tonal elements have been detected from a small number of local residents and numerous measures implemented to address these, including the replacement of a gearbox on one of the turbines a few weeks ago.
“Throughout the process we have developed an excellent and transparent working relationship with officials at Carmarthenshire Council.
“They have been fully informed of the steps that have been completed to resolve the issue, which is why we are rather surprised that the council has adopted its latest policy using the Alltwalis windfarm as its motivation to do so.”
Mrs Evans’s initial proposal of a 2,000-metre buffer zone was scaled back during the meeting. The proposal will now go out to consultation and to the Welsh Assembly to be cleared before it can be incorporated into the UDP.
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