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Leaders demand to know more about sea wind farm

City leaders want more information about how the Atlantic Array wind farm could affect tourism in Swansea and Gower.

Councillors clashed over the scheme, which if given consent will result in 188 to 278 turbines between Gower and Lundy Island, at a meeting on Thursday.

Council-commissioned experts White Consultants said it felt the impact of the scheme on viewpoints in Gower had been understated by developer RWE npower renewables.

White Consultants said it found it hard to square the developer’s conclusion that there would be no significant impact on tourism, despite the latter conceding there would be significant adverse impacts on the area of outstanding natural beauty.

At the meeting, Councillor Peter Black said he felt most visitors would not be put off by the turbines, which could be 180 metres or – if a smaller number were used – up to 220 metres, and some 22 kilometres from Gower at its closest point.

Mr Black urged colleagues to weigh up the scheme’s economic potential to the area.

“It seems to me there is significant benefit to this (scheme), and it is way out to sea,” he said.

Councillor Richard Lewis branded the proposal “a huge blot on the landscape”, adding: “How many jobs would come to Swansea? Why don’t they put it further out to sea?”

Councillor Paxton Hood- Williams said wind farms had not resulted in a single coal-fired power station being switched off, and suggested RWE used undersea tidal-powered turbines instead.

Councillor Wendy Fitzgerald added: “If it were not for the massive subsidies, they (wind farms) simply would not be viable.”

Councillor Tony Colburn said he felt Atlantic Array would be a “complete and utter disaster as far as Gower is concerned”.

Councillor John Bayliss disagreed. “I think Atlantic Array is a fantastic scheme,” he said, adding that it would stimulate the local and regional economy.

Councillors resolved to write to RWE with objections, including the concerns raised by White Consultants and a request for the developer to respond to them.

RWE will be given consent – or otherwise – by the UK planning inspectorate, due to the size of the scheme which, it is claimed, will generate the equivalent power for 1.1million homes.