A wind farm between Neath and Aberdare which faced intense opposition has been granted Government consent.
The 76 turbine Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project was today granted development consent by Charles Hendry MP, Energy Minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
The wind farm is likely to cost £300 million, take three years to build and last for around 25 years with the potential retention or creation of around 300 jobs in Wales.
Construction could start as early as next year once Vattenfall, the company behind the scheme, makes a final investment decision.
The Glyncorrwg Action Group in the upper Afan Valley last year condemned plans for the project which spokesman Bob Slater claimed would be disastrous for the village.
Mr Slater told the South Wales Evening Post: “It will have an overbearing visual impact over the people in Glyncorrwg.”
Vattenfall predicts the project could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of up to 206,000 homes a year.
The Energy Minister said: “Onshore wind plays an important role in enhancing our energy security.
“It is the cheapest form of renewable energy and reduces our reliance on foreign fuel.
“This project in South Wales will generate vast amounts of home-grown renewable electricity and provide a significant benefits package for the local community.”
The wind farm will be built on publicly owned land managed by Forestry Commission Wales.
Forestry Commission Wales Wind Energy Programme Executive Derek Stephen said: “We are pleased to have worked with Vattenfall in reaching this milestone and look forward to our continued relationship in bringing renewable energy to Wales.”
RSPB Cymru has also supported the project which received no objections from Neath Port Talbot Council or neighbouring Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.
Katie-jo Luxton, Director RSPB Cymru said: “RSPB Cymru welcomes the positive approach Vattenfall has taken to nature conservation through the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm – an approach which will result in a net gain for wildlife in this area.
“We hope that other companies will adopt a similar attitude and that that this project will set the gold standard for wind farm developments in Wales and, indeed, elsewhere”.
Piers Guy, Vattenfall’s Head of Onshore Wind Development in the UK, said: “We are delighted that Vattenfall’s Welsh flagship project has been consented.
“Pen y Cymoedd is a major project that could be worth more than £1billion to Wales.
“We have consistently stated our commitment to making sure that we maximise the value of Pen y Cymoedd to the region and to Wales.
“This is now our priority.
“This project shows what onshore wind energy investments can offer Wales over the short and long term.
“Through this project we will be supporting the delivery of national and local priorities – from creating local jobs, supply chain opportunities and apprenticeship schemes to supporting tourism initiatives, community services and facilities.
“Our 25 year investment makes us one of the most significant community investors in Wales.”
He added: “The project will see Vattenfall investing in a £3 million local habitat restoration project and a community fund that will provide guaranteed funding support for regeneration of more than £55million over the next 25 years.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the very many organisations, groups and individuals who have helped to shape this project to make our shared vision a reality.”
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