An application for a wind farm on Denbigh Moor has blown into a storm of concern from local people.
Hundreds of residents from Gwytherin, Llangernyw and Llansannan, who are against the proposed Llys Dymper site, have spoken out against Windpower Wales’ plans for 14 wind turbines.
After a number of emergency meetings by residents they raised the following concerns, which Windpower Wales has answered via the Weekly News.
RESIDENTS AGAINST THE PLANS
1. Residents feel lied to that the planning application with Conwy Council, and a newsletter sent to residents by Windpower Wales, proposed 17 turbines, not the 14 now promised. Residents also fear that if permission is granted more turbines could be added.
2. Residents in Gwytherin argue that the wind farm is not “away from populated areas” as stated by Windpower Wales.
3. People fear that the sight of fourteen 126m high turbines on a mountain site will create a visual impact to both locals and visitors.
4. Windpower Wales said their approach is to involve local communities, yet the people of Gwytherin argue they were left out of meetings and public exhibitions and had to request a meeting through their local councillor, which they eventually had in February – three months after other villages.
5. Windpower Wales told residents the turbine site would offer “very little intrusion or disruption to the villages of Conwy and Denbighshire”, but local people believe there will be massive intrusion and disruption during its construction, including when new roads have to be built for the construction, digging for the turbines’ foundations, and for the cable laying. They also have concerns over who will be responsible for the construction.
6. Residents would like to know how they will benefit from the wind farm in return for it being a constant in their lives.
1. The original project was designed with 17 turbines and the application was produced with this in mind. Following representations made very late in the progress, we have agreed to amend the application to remove three turbines from the original design and downsize a further two.
This amendment requires modifications to the application that are currently being prepared and will be submitted in due course.
The planning officers are fully aware of our intention to submit this amendment and are assisting us with the technical requirements.
Placing any further turbines on the site would require a completely new planning application.
2. The nearest turbine is approximately 1.9km from Gwytherin’s centre. Very few places in Wales have zero human population, but the Denbigh Moors are among those that have comparatively very few people living within its boundaries.
We have accepted, after consultation, that the original design would have an unacceptable impact on the village of Gwytherin and have agreed to remove three turbines from the proposal and reduce the height of another two.
It is impossible to build large structures anywhere in the countryside without having some visual impact. This impact must be balanced with the benefits of the development.
We accept that our original plan would have been unreasonably intrusive and have taken steps to put the matter right.
3. Wind turbines do create a visual impact. We have sited the turbines carefully to minimise this.
The visual impact needs to be balanced against the benefits of the project and meeting the needs of society in general for clean renewable energy.
The Assembly Government and the Westminster Government have specific production targets for renewable energy established by an international treaty to help combat the very real problem of global climate change.
We must all play our part in this for the sake of future generations and the Welsh countryside is being asked to produce clean, safe energy where industrial Wales has previously delivered our energy at great cost to human life, health and habitat.
4. Windpower Wales has engaged in extensive public consultation, starting with investment meetings in 2006. As the design process evolved we held a pre-planning meeting in August 2009 at our offices in Llangernyw to discuss the plans and then held a further four meetings at villages around the project in February 2010.
Although we wrote to everyone on the electoral roll informing them of these meetings it became apparent that not everyone interested had been made aware.
After a request from a member of the community we held a meeting in Gwytherin in October 2010 followed by a further meeting in December showing an amended layout.
5. The construction of the project would be accessed from the south via the A543. The foundations and roads are dug on site and excess soil distributed on site. Cables are laid along the bed of the road to minimise disturbance.
The bulk of the work will be carried out by local contractors and sub-contractors. It is our policy to employ local skills wherever possible. Some specialist work may have to be carried out by the turbine manufacturer if we are to receive warranty for the turbines.
Windpower Wales will continue to own and operate the wind farm for the 25 years of its scheduled life.
6. Windpower Wales is a private company with over 100 shareholders, the majority of whom live in our area.
Our aim is to return the financial benefits of the wind farm to the local community via dividends to shareholders, rents paid to landholders and to the wider community through our community return package.
In this we give £3,000 per megawatt of consented capacity per year to a community interest company to distribute among the community as it sees fit.
If 40.6MW is consented, this would be £121,800 per annum for the life of the project (25 years).
This is in addition to the £120,000 per annum being paid to the community from our consented Brenig project. These monies will be match-funded and multiplied by contributions from European and government funds and will be a significant resource to support our community in future.
After consent, and as part of funding construction, we will offer a high yielding investment bond to local householders so non-shareholders who wish to invest can benefit.
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