Wind farm protestors in the Swansea Valley have admitted defeat in their fight to prevent trees being cut down to transport wind turbines.
Residents group Communities Acting Together said it was angered last week to discover that Irish electricity firm ESB was ready to cut down trees on a major roundabout in Pontardawe.
They claimed the move was in readiness to allow lorries – of more than 50 metres long and weighing 150 tonnes – to carry the huge turbines to a wind farm under construction on Mynydd y Betws, behind Rhydyfro.
The group felt particularly aggrieved as the route, starting from Swansea Docks and travelling up the A474 through Pontardawe, is yet to receive official approval.
The developer maintains it has always acted within the law.
Pontardawe Councillor Linet Purcell admitted today that the developer had permission from Neath Port Talbot Council to cut the mature trees down.
She added: “Pontardawe has been suffering for months with the endless stream of construction traffic passing through our very small town. Now we have our trees being lopped and felled and work about to begin to reshape or remove roundabouts on the route – all just to help out developers constructing a wind farm in Carmarthenshire.” Mrs Purcell also said that she was very concerned about the impact the convoys could have on people’s lives.
She said: “I have been told that the 15 convoys of turbines and blades will pass through Pontardawe during the day – leaving Swansea Docks between 9am and 1.30pm. The impact on everyday traffic will be horrendous.
“If a convoy breaks down in Rhydyfro and blocks the narrow road, what alternative route will be taken by emergency vehicles to access residents further up the valley?”
Bob Williams, mayor of Pontardawe, said: “We were told that alterations to the highway to allow these convoys would be temporary, but just how temporary can be the felling of trees?
“It is fair to say that the people of Pontardawe and Rhyd-y-Fro are both angry and frightened at the thought of 15 convoys of lorries weighing up to 150 tonnes each carving their way through their communities.
“Most residents support the wind farm, but feel that if Carmarthenshire gave the planning permission then Carmarthenshire should suffer the disruption.”
A Neath Port Talbot Council spokesman said: “This route is a designated abnormal load route and therefore no further consent or consultation is required in connection with the publicly-maintained highway.”