A Welsh beauty spot is under threat from a vast wind farm development, the like of which has been discredited in other parts of Europe, opponents have said.
Campaigners protesting against the project on Carmarthenshire’s Llanllwni Mountain say the development of 21 turbines will desecrate an area which is an upland blanket peatland area.
They fear the turbines, as well as forming a blot on the landscape, will disturb the habitats of bees and skylarks because of the disruption and noise caused by erecting them.
Developers Renewable Energy Systems (RES) have said the wind farm could make an important contribution toward Wales’s renewable energy targets as well as creating jobs during construction.
The plans include installation of turbines each 127 metres (423ft) tall, along the highest point of the mountain, southwards towards Brechfa forest.
Campaigner Beryl Edwards said the mountain was one of the area’s few wild but accessible terrains.
“This is not just a hillside but our Carmarthenshire mountain which is full of heather, wildlife and birdlife,” she said. “It is particularly galling that so much devastation should be caused for such an inefficient way of producing energy.
“Surely we should be acting as guardians for such surroundings.”
Mrs Edwards said the carbon footprint created by the installation of the turbines undermined any green electricity produced.
A spokesman for Friends of Mynydd Llanllwni action group said onshore wind farm sites require huge subsidy to make them worthwhile, for poor return and large-scale environmental damage.
“The new Dutch right-wing government has announced a radical overhaul of Dutch energy policy,” he said.
“It is cutting subsidies for most forms of renewable energy drastically, and is even putting an end to all subsidies for offshore wind, as it seen as an inefficient way of producing electricity at a huge cost to the landscape.
“Despite the onshore version of this technology being discredited and subsidies removed in Denmark – where it was pioneered – the developers are pressing ahead.”
Conservative Assembly candidate Henrietta Hensher has backed the campaign, claiming wind farms “brutalise” the Welsh hills and “decimate” local communities.
The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr candidate said: “On-shore wind farms de-value property, destroy natural habitats, discourage tourism and in some cases have been linked to health issues among local residents.”
It comes amid plans for two other wind farms proposed for the same part of the county from a different energy company, called Rwe Npower Renewables. It wants to build 28 turbines east of Alltwalis, in a development known as Brechfa Forest West, and a separate 12 turbines north of Abergorlech, called Brechfa Forest East.
The company has already submitted a planning application for Brechfa East this month to Carmarthenshire Council.
The Brechfa West development is too large to be decided by the county council so it will instead be decided by the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), which deals with major energy projects such as power stations. This application is expected later this year.
Opposing all three applications is the Brechfa Forest Energy Action Group, including long-standing campaigner Caroline Evans.
“Wind turbines are completely inefficient and a waste of taxpayers’ money,” she said.
“It has been proven that most of these turbines only run at 21% capacity and are not an efficient way of creating electricity. In the meantime the countryside is carved up to create them.”
Ecologist Stuart Cutter, whose parents live on the outskirts of Llanllwni, said the mountain is an upland blanket peatland area which is extremely rare.
“Britain as a whole has 10-15% of the world’s upland blanket bog. And now that our climate is changing somewhat and our climate may no longer support the formation of new blanket peat bogs, so we need to ensure that we look after those we still have. It would have such negative effect on such a large area.”
No one from RES was available for comment last night.
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