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Wind farm developer’s plans to cut trees angers residents

Residents in the Swansea Valley are furious after hearing a wind farm developer could be about to chop down trees on the approach to their town.

Irish electricity firm ESB is claimed to be ready to cut down trees on a major roundabout in Pontardawe, in readiness to allow lorries carrying huge turbines to pass on their way to a new wind farm in Mynydd y Betws, behind Rhydyfro.

The route, starting from Swansea docks, is yet to receive official approval.

Residents have set up a group called Communities Acting Together to protest against the prospect of seeing vehicles of more than 50 metres long and weighing 150 tonnes travelling up the A474 through Pontardawe and up towards the site.

They also claim the loads will delay emergency services, will damage the route and lower property prices.

The developer maintains it has not, and never will, operate without full permission.

But the group has said it is “furious” to learn that the developer may be allowed to cut down trees while the route is still being discussed.

Pontardawe councillor Linet Purcell said: “The route for the transporting of the turbines has not been finalised and is still being opposed by many until we receive satisfactory answers to questions concerning the safety of the route.

“We were told that there would be a temporary removal of roundabouts and traffic lights, but cutting down trees is drastic and certainly not a temporary measure.

“They are beautiful trees that create a pleasant approach to Pontardawe and mask industrial units. As the route has not yet been agreed upon or signed off by the police this action would be very premature and on behalf of the people of Pontardawe I object most strongly.”

Mrs Purcell added that she had been given precious little warning of the action.

She said: “I only found out about this two days ago, and I’m told they plan to cut the trees down on Monday.”

The town’s mayor, Bob Williams, said: “In my opinion, the quality of life of the people of Pontardawe and Rhyd-y-Fro is much more important than the profits of this company.”

Planning permission for the wind farm itself was granted by Carmarthenshire Council – though access to the site goes through Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

Rob Fellows, a spokesman for the developer, said: “All works required to allow the safe movement of turbine components through Pontardawe will only be carried out with the full consent of Neath Port Talbot Council.”

Neath Port Talbot Council failed to respond to requests for a comment on the matter before the time of going to press.