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Campaigners brand Gilfach Goch wind turbines ‘a monstrosity’

Campaigners against the installation of seven new wind turbines in Gilfach Goch have dubbed the project “a monstrosity” and a blot on the landscape.

RWE NPower Renewables have been granted planning permission to decommission 20 existing wind turbines at the Taff Ely Wind Farm site and replace them with seven twice their size.

Turbines have existed on Tynewydd and Maendy Farms since 1993 – and have divided opinion ever since.

The Green Valley Action Group, an organisation in Gilfach Goch and Evanstown, claims the wind farm will dominate a landscape already surrounded by turbines.

But RWE NPower stress the new models will double the current energy output at the site and power 9,700 UK homes.

The organisation has also pledged to give out payments of up to £87,500 which will be invested in the community.

Rob Kerr-Bonner, developer at RWE NPower, said: “We were heartened by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s endorsement of our approach to developing this project and their ongoing commitment to renewable energy in the region.

“The de-commissioning of the existing 20 turbines will mark an end of an era, but today’s modern wind turbines have moved on significantly from those currently installed.”

The recommendation to approve the plans was only narrowly passed by councillors at a Development Control Committee hearing in Clydach Vale on Thursday, April 18.

Coun Aurfron Roberts, ward member for Gilfach Goch, said she had great concerns over the effectiveness of the turbines and questioned RWE’s commitment to delivering their community investment.

She said: “Destroying birds isn’t my idea of saving the planet. I do not understand the obsession with wind farms. They only produce a fraction of the energy we need.

“Turbines in the USA have been left to rust and have become a blot on the landscape.

“Gilfach Goch is absolutely beautiful and the contempt this company is having over the community is appalling.”

Councillors visited the site en mass earlier this month ahead of the planning decision.

Tonyrefail East independent councillor Paul Wasley said: “I was totally amazed at the height of the existing ones. It’s only mugs like us who have to put up with these massive monstrosities.

“They will be obsolete in 20 years. We need to explore other options of generation.”

Some parts of the Taff Ely community have embraced the wind farm, including Hendreforgan Primary School who have a turbine logo on their crest.

Coleg Morgannwg student Annie Holland, 16, said: “Global warming is not a myth, it’s a reality. For years we have been ignorant to it. The turbines are a focal point in the community and have become iconic.”

But opposition groups say the site is classed as “high landscape sensitivity” and is not in-keeping with neighbouring wind farms due to their increase in size.

Within guidance of Tan8, 100m turbines are considered “large”.

Gilfach Goch resident Stuart Edwards said: “These new turbines are about as sensitive as a bull in a china shop.”

The current Taff Ely wind farm consists of 20 Nordtank turbines with a maximum output of 450kw and have a combined output of nine megawatts. Once the new turbines are erected, they will have a capacity of between 14mw and 17.5mw.