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Work starts on access road to Mynydd y Betws wind farm

Work has started on a controversial access road to a new wind farm in Carmarthenshire.

Lorries are carrying stone along the A474 between Pontardawe and Cwmgors for a road which will lead to the 15-turbine Mynydd y Bettws wind farm.

One local resident said dishes were “shaking off the walls” in his house, with others claiming members of the public were not consulted properly.

Neath Port Talbot council said it was following Welsh Government guidance.

The wind farm, which is not expected to be completed until January or February 2013, lies on the border between Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot.

Carmarthenshire council dealt with the planning application and Neath Port Talbot with site access.

In a year’s time, 15 convoys are expected to take the new turbines along the road.

Sean Lacey, who lives opposite the new entrance to the wind farm, told BBC Wales environment correspondent Iolo ap Dafydd: “Our dishes in the kitchen are shaking off the walls.

“They’ve got heavy rollers, they’ve got thousands of lorries gone in so far, heavy plant machinery – there’s no consideration at all.”
Public meeting

He added that generators were running all night and said he had recently had to ask for tower lights shining towards his house to be turned.

A month ago, about 100 people attended a public meeting in Cwmgors over concerns the road would not be able to cope with the large lorries.

Steve Phillips, Neath Port Talbot (NPT) council’s chief executive, said the local authority consulted with people on the problems of using the A474 for a new wind farm, and a Welsh Government planning inspector identified the road as the appropriate route.

He added: “I’m not trying to claim the A474 is ideal for this sort of traffic…it is indeed narrow, but at the end of the day that was the conclusion that the planning inspector reached and that is the basis upon which we’re acting.”

Lynette Purcell, Pontardawe Town councillor and NPT councillor, said local people “did not become aware of this until after it had been signed on the dotted line and was going to happen”.

The wind farm is expected to be able to generate enough electricity to power about 23,800 homes.

A spokesman for Electricity Supply Board International, owned by the Irish Government, said the company had consulted with local people and held public information days about lorry movements and abnormal loads in the future.

He added: “We’ve been very open and honest from the start.”