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Gower wind farm fears voiced by villagers

Rhossili residents have voiced concern over plans for a proposed wind farm off the Gower peninsula.

The planned Atlantic Array project by company RWE npower renewables would involve up to 417 turbines created in the Bristol Channel, taking up an area larger than the size of Swansea.

The company claims the project could generate 1,500 megawatts, enough electricity to power 1.1 million homes, but residents of the Gower village say if realised the farm will affect wildlife, the natural environment, and tourism, and potentially water movement.

At a meeting held in the village residents also said they were concerned how it would affect the view from Gower, with the farm, which would be situated between the peninsula and Lundy Island, likely to stretch to 24 miles wide, with the nearest point being just 16 km from the Gower coast.

Chairman of Rhossili Community Council, Steve Walmsley, told the meeting: “This is not just off a bit of Gower – you will see this wind farm from everywhere. It will be visible from Porthcawl, Milford Haven and Bude.

“It is quite scary how much of the horizon it will take up. And it is not just the turbines – there will also be platforms and other structures.

“This is a beautiful area, and I think we are being discriminated against, but it should be protected”.

Because of its size, if the project is given the go-ahead, it will be by a body from outside Wales, the Infrastructure Planning Commission. Construction would begin in 2015, with the highest tip of each turbine up to 220 metres above sea level – greater than the highest point of Gower – with power cables from the wind farm coming ashore in Devon.

RWE says construction of the wind farm could lead to around 3,000 jobs, followed by 200 for operations and maintenance once completed.

But their preliminary environmental assessment acknowledged it could have an affect on tourism, concluding: “Potential effects may include disturbance and/or displacement of marine recreational activity during construction.”

Despite being sympathetic to green energy, people who attended the meeting said they believed the location was unsuitable.

Residents raised concerns about the potential effect a large-scale windfarm could have on tidal and sea current patterns, and potential knock-on effects to surfing and other water sports in the area.

They were told the wind farm would be a no-go area for sailing, diving and fishing, prompting concerns that any sailing trip from Gower to Ilfracombe would have to circumnavigate the turbines, extending a five hour journey to twelve.

The deadline for responses to the consultation is November 10. Email views to atlantic array@npower-renewables.com