Campaigners fighting a controversial wind farm plan hoisted a brightly coloured blimp 400ft into the Porthcawl skies in an audacious stunt on Monday.
Newton Action Group leaders, who are opposing plans to erect two 125m turbines on land overlooking the seaside town, flew the eye-catching red-pink vessel where one of the farm’s two turbines would stand.
The soaring blimp – which was tethered to a 125m rope and flown above Newton Down – was visible from much of the western Bridgend borough.
Permission even had to be granted from the Civil Aviation Authority before the blimp was hoisted.
The Newton Down wind farm application, submitted by Wiltshire-based Renewable Energy Partnership (REP), is currently being considered by Welsh planning inspector Alwyn Nixon. The blimp’s flight coincided with Mr ixon’s visit on Monday.
Philip Vaughan, who lives in the shadow of the proposed site off Danygraig Hill, is a founder member of the Newton Action Group (NAG) and was behind the £1,000 blimp idea.
He said it was the only way to make the true height of the proposed turbines hit home with people living nearby and the inspector.
“People were gobsmacked by the height of it,” said the Porthcawl businessman.
“We can’t be sure how noisy they would be but we are sure how high they would be so we put the blimp up and it was horrendously high.”
Mr Vaughan said the 20ft by 8ft blimp was clearly visible from Rest Bay, Newton Beach and Porthcawl’s Promenade.
“I honestly think people did not realise exactly how high 400ft is until we put the blimp up,” he said.
“If a turbine that size was put up there you would think that something has landed from Mars – that’s how big it is.”
Mr Vaughan’s property – which is around 600m from the nearest proposed turbine site – was one of eight locations visited by inspector Mr Nixon, REP bosses, Bridgend County Borough Council planners and Countryside Council for Wales representatives on MondayAPR 8.
Two weeks earlier both sides had their say at an inquiry hearing in Bridgend.
After Monday’s visit, REP director Richard Hadwin said: “All meetings were very amicable and constructive and we thank the residents who attended.
“Balancing the urgent need to tackle climate change and energy independence with genuinely held local concerns is not simple.
“Everyone has had their say and we await the inspector’s decision in due course.”
REP’s planning application drew more letters of opposition than any other since Bridgend County Borough Council was formed in 1996 – with 640 writing in with their concerns.
There was also an opposition petition submitted with more than 1,100 signatures.
Detractors have called the proposed turbines – which would be higher than Wales’ tallest building – “monsters”.
But REP have said the plans are the result of public consultations and environmental studies over many years and the Newton Down site is one of the very few, if not only, locations possible for a small wind farm in the Bridgend borough.
The inspector’s decision is expected in the coming weeks.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding