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Mynydd Y Betws fund triggers row over how wind farm community benefits are allocated  

Credit:  By Paul Lewis | South Wales Evening Post | May 04, 2013 | www.thisissouthwales.co.uk ~~

A row has blown up over the way cash from wind farms is shared out between communities.

One independent councillor whose village missed out claimed it might have stood a better chance if he had been Labour.

Neath Port Talbot Council has now approved a means of awarding grants from the Mynydd y Betws wind farm.

This involves a one-off sum of £285,000 followed by annual payments of at least £25,000.

It will be shared between the wards of Lower Brynaman, Gwaun- cae-Gurwen, Pontardawe and Alltwen.

Alltwen was not originally on the list. But, following a request by Labour councillor David Lewis, the council approached developer Cambrian Renewable Energy, which added it.

Seven Sisters councillor Steve Hunt, an independent, welcomed the community fund.

But he complained strongly about why certain communities received benefits when others affected by wind farms did not.

He said Mr Lewis had, at a meeting in December, asked for Alltwen to be included as there had been disruption while the turbines were dealt with on-site.

Mr Hunt said Alltwen should not have qualified on either location or visual impact grounds, but was still included in the communities benefit list.

Mr Hunt said that, two years ago, he argued for Seven Sisters to be included in the Maesgwyn community fund as most of a turbine was clearly visible – but was turned down.

Officers explained the developer decided what communities should be included, not the council.

But Mr Hunt said the council had put forward the case for Alltwen and it had then been added to the list.

“I do sometimes feel that if I’d been a Labour councillor I could have had Seven Sisters included in the Maesgwyn benefit,” he added.

“We have a massive turbine right in front of us.

“I am upset at what has transpired. There’s £85,000 a year for 25 years to Onllwyn and Banwen. Seven Sisters has nothing yet we do have the visual impact.”

Head of partnership and community Russell Ward said the legal agreement was a matter between the planning department and developers.

He said head of planning, Nicola Pearce, recognised there had to be consistency across the county and a protocol was being worked on.

The Mynydd y Betws fund will be launched next month

Source:  By Paul Lewis | South Wales Evening Post | May 04, 2013 | www.thisissouthwales.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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