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Green lights given to Afan Valley wind farm following inquiry

A planning inspector has given the green light to an Afan Valley wind farm which was turned down by Neath Port Talbot Council.

Developers Gamesa Energy UK plan to build 12 wind turbines on Mynydd y Gelli, near Abergwynfi.

The original plan was to build 15 turbines but the company revised the application.

Three of the turbines will be located outside the county and have already been granted permission from Bridgend Council.

The energy company launched an appeal after the plans were rejected by Neath Port Talbot’s planning committee in April 2012 due to its visual impact.

A public inquiry was then held in June this year.

The inspector, Rebecca Phillips, granted permission subject to several conditions.

“In reaching this decision I have noted the considerable support that has been expressed by local communities,” she said. “However, I have also taken into account the concerns raised by individual objectors.

“I have considered all the other matters referred to at the planning application and appeal stage but I have not found anything of sufficient weight to alter my conclusions on the main issues which lead me to allow the appeal.”

Some objectors voiced their concerns during the opening day of the planning inquiry, but there has also been support.

Christine Keirle said her first concern was that property values would plummet. “The second is the visual impact. Everywhere I go, I will be able to see this wind farm,” she said.

But at the council planning meeting in 2012, around 25 residents attended the meeting in support of the scheme.

A petition of support containing 146 signatures was handed into the council, with 102 letters in support. A letter was sent to councillors before the meeting from the Llynfi Afan Wind Farm Supporters Group.

As part of the deal, the community is set to benefit from a £3 million cash fund over the lifetime of the wind farm.

At the inquiry Blaengwynfi resident and former Aberavon AM Brian Gibbons said Gamesa had listened to their concerns, particularly in relation to the number and location of the turbines.

Dr Gibbons said many community groups were supportive of the wind farm development, with some caveats, saying it would enhance quality of life for those struggling to survive.

The council’s head of planning, Nicola Pearce, said: “The council is very disappointed with this decision.”