Aberavon’s MP and AM have expressed disappointment at the news that the Pen-y-Cymoedd wind farm development has been given the go-ahead in spite of the concerns of residents.
The £365 million development overlooking Glyncorrwg will be the highest-generating onshore wind farm in England and Wales, generating 299MW from 76 turbines, enough to power 206,000 homes, according to developers.
In a joint statement, MP Hywel Francis and AM David Rees said: “We are disappointed that the concerns of local residents and our calls for a public inquiry have not been acted upon.
“We hope the developer will be working with residents, local councillors, the local authority and the Welsh Government to ensure that this development benefits the local area.
“We will be seeking a meeting with the developers as soon as possible to ensure that local residents’ concerns are taken into account.”
Currently, under Section 36 of the 1989 Electricity Act, final decisions about power stations of more than 50MW are decided by the Westminster government rather than the Assembly Government.
The Assembly Government is now seeking devolved power to decide energy proposals above 50 MW.
In response to a question on the Pen-y-Cymoedd development from Mr Rees in the Senedd yesterday (May 8), First Minister Carwyn Jones said he did not believe the current situation was sustainable, and that that these decisions should be taken by those who are elected by the people of Wales.
Dr Francis, Mr Rees and Mr Rees’s predecessor, Brian Gibbons, have campaigned for a public inquiry for several years. The developer, Swedish-based Vattenfall, has promised a community benefits package potentially worth £55 million over the site’s lifetime.
However, Lindsay Milsom, chairman of Glyncorrwg Action Group, said the wind farm, which was not opposed by Neath Port Council, would “devastate” the village’s way of life. He added that he was disappointed.
“We’ve campaigned for 13 years against wind farms and their development,” said Mr Milsom.
Dr Francis and Mr Rees added: “We believe it remains a travesty that decisions on such important issues are not taken here in Wales.
“While we fully support renewable energy, this is a landscape which has already been ravaged by coal mining.
“Local communities have worked hard to regenerate the region into what should now be considered an area of natural beauty.
“The proposal for the wind farm would be particularly intrusive for the residents of the upper Afan Valley.
“These communities, with their highly attractive natural assets, are beginning to build a thriving tourist industry which could be impacted upon unless this development is managed both sensitively and with full consultation with our communities.”
Vattenfall says the Pen-y-Cymoedd project would take three years to construct and have a lifetime of 25 years, which it says could put £1 billion into the Welsh economy, and create or retain 300 jobs.
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