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Energy island revolt over giant wind turbines for Anglesey

Towering wind turbines that would dwarf the Menai Suspension Bridge have sparked an Energy Island revolt and demands for a renewable policy that protects tourism.

More than 40 turbine applications have been submitted to Anglesey council, with fears they could blight the landscape of the island.

These include three 100m turbines proposed for near Penmynydd that would be higher than the Marquess of Anglesey column at 27 metres, Menai Bridge at 46 metres, and even Big Ben in London (96m).

Anglesey Against Wind Turbines (AAWT) want to halt the approval of turbines until a review of the planning policy and the impact on tourism is carried out.

Research by tourism bosses in Scotland has found a proliferation in turbines could cost the industry millions each year as visitors are deterred by the rural intrusion. Similar research has not been carried out in Wales.

A spokesman for AAWT said: “Anglesey’s policy on turbines has not been reviewed for 16 years. There are applications for 42 new turbines, almost half of which are in areas which have no existing turbines.

“AAWT feel Anglesey should have a revised policy in place before any applications are considered. The turbines will not only be seen from many parts of Anglesey, but also from the mainland – from the mountains and places such as Caernarfon and Y Felinheli.

“The cumulative effect of applications for one, two or three turbines scattered over a large area will be to change the landscape completely.”

They added: “After a bumper year for tourism, what a pity to ruin it by spoiling our island. A decrease in tourism would have a widespread effect, not only on those directly involved in providing accommodation, attractions, shops, cafes and restaurants, but also a knock-on effect on all the other places where those business owners then spend that money.

“In a tough economic climate this could be the last straw for some struggling local businesses.”

The planning committee is today due to consider applications from Kinetica Energy for five turbines in the Rhosgoch and Amlwch Mountain areas. These turbines are a more modest 15m, with an agent for the firm saying the micro projects would be good for job creation, the environment and reduce reliance on oil and gas.

Cllr Gareth Winston Roberts, who acts as a broker for the firm, said: “I believe we need a mix of nuclear and renewable energy in Wales to reduce our dependence on oil and gas. My view of this has never changed.

“My preference is for micro projects because I believe they are less intrusive than large windfarms. They can also be very beneficial to small businesses and create jobs.”

The application for the 100m turbines, from rotor tip to the floor, is from West Coast Energy.

They said yesterday that the height was now standard in the industry and each pylon could generate 2.5 megawatts, enough to power around 1,200 homes. They added the consultation process was at an early stage.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “A diverse range of factors influence the UK tourist industry. Studies carried out elsewhere indicate the impact of windfarms is minimal if they are properly designed and sensitively laid out.”