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Protesters fear controversial wind farm will drive away tourists  

Credit:  by Our Correspondent, Glamorgan Gazette, www.walesonline.co.uk 15 December 2011 ~~

A decision will be made today on controversial wind farm proposals for land above the Llynfi and Garw Valleys.

Bridgend County Borough Council’s planning committee will this afternoon decide whether to throw its support behind the 15-turbine Afan Llynfi wind farm, planned for Mynydd Caerau and Mynydd y Gelli on the Bridgend/Neath Port Talbot boundary.

Three of the farm’s proposed 118m high turbines would be located in the Bridgend borough, with the other 12 in Neath Port Talbot land.

A report drawn up by council officers ahead of this afternoon’s committee meeting says the farm – which would operate for 25 years should the application be approved – would provide enough electricity for 16,774 homes.

The report recommends that committee members approve the application with conditions.

But opposers of the project concerned about noise and visual impacts are pleading with planning committee members to refuse the application.

David Michael, 63, of Marian Street, Blaengarw, who is chairman of the Garw Valley Residents’ Association, said: “I am hoping they throw this out, no doubt about it.

“It won’t do anything for the area.

“It goes against everything that has been said about trying to promote the area to live in and for visitors.”

Blaengarw councillor David Pugh, who will speak at today’s planning committee debate, said: “The development will create an unnecessary visual impact, could cause noise pollution and will be detrimental to the wildlife and also the promotion of tourism within the area.

“The community council and other organisations in Blaengarw are also in the process of trying to secure funding to create mountain bike trails and I believe this development will have a detrimental effect on this project.”

The officers’ report shows that Blaengarw will be the closest community to the farm – with houses just over 1km away from the nearest turbine – with Blaencaerau, Pontycymmer and Nantyffyllon all within 3km of turbines.

An assessment of the visual and landscape aspects of the development concluded that the 387ft turbines would create a “significant” visual impact on people in valleys communities.

The report said: “There will be major to moderate potential visual effects on residents, walkers and road users of these areas. The visual impact of the scheme on these receptors is therefore classed as significant.

“Nevertheless, the very fact that turbines are visible is not necessarily an unacceptable situation and the impact, while significant in terms of its assessment, may not be sufficient to refuse planning permission.” The report also states that there will not be “any significant adverse effects in terms of noise”, and says there will not be adverse effects on nearby transport links, wildlife and tourism.

Rob Fellows, spokesman for the applicants Gamesa Energy UK, said: “There have been 145 letters in support and only 13 against it so we are happy that there is overwhelming local support for it.

“We are also pleased that the officers have recommended the proposal which is fully compliant with planning policy and received no objections from the statutory consultees.”

As well as the three Bridgend-based turbines, the application includes crane pads and a 5.5m high substation building which would be built on the hillside above Caerau.

Planning applications for the wind farm are also being considered by Neath Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Councils.

Source:  by Our Correspondent, Glamorgan Gazette, www.walesonline.co.uk 15 December 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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