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Buffer zone hope in turbine fight

Campaigners have won a victory in their fight over disruptive noise from Alltwalis Wind Farm.

The possibility of new guide lines on buffer zones and turning off faulty wind farm turbines at night will now be debated at the Welsh Assembly.

It follows a 1,000-name petition and hearing held in Carmarthen earlier this year, where people were able to give evidence to the Assembly’s Petitions Committee.

It has now passed a series of recommendations to be tabled at a meeting of the full Assembly soon.

But the man who organised the petition, Jim Sheppard Foster, a retired engineer from Rhydcymerau, said any new plans will not help those people living near Alltwalis who currently suffer from noise problems.

He said: “I don’t think we can ever get everything we want but the fact the Assembly is looking at it, for my point of view, is a real step forward.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think the residents of Gwyddgrug will think it does much for them.”

Any new guidelines would also not apply to planning applications for wind farms already submitted or those determined outside of the Welsh Assembly – such as the large wind farm proposal for the Brechfa Forest.

Mr Sheppard Foster added that he was still pleased with the progress.

“I thought the petition’s committee were absolutely excellent,” he said.

“It’s much better than the English (Westminster) system, where you need a number of signatures and can get a debate in Parliament which could amount to nothing.

“With the Welsh Assembly committee, you get the chance to put more information to them to look at in a balanced way and they make the representations.”

At the hearing in Carmarthen, the committee received an overwhelming number of responses from people who claimed that noise from wind turbines affected their sleep and disrupted their everyday lives.

AM William Powell, chairman of the petitions’ committee, said: “We were told that some people no longer enjoyed being outside in their own gardens, others were afraid that their homes would be devalued and some had sleep problems leading to mental and physical health issues.

“The health and wellbeing of people living in Wales is a top priority and it is vital that residents living close to wind turbines are protected.

“The committee recognises the importance of securing green energy sources to meet our energy needs in the future, however, this should not be done at the expense of people’s health.”

The committee concluded that measures could be applied if the Welsh Government amended statutory planning guidance with regards to faulty turbines and buffer zones.