Row over Swansea chamber of commerce’s backing for wind farm after its Christmas lunch is backed by the developer
A councillor who has been opposing plans for a controversial wind farm above Swansea is concerned a chamber of commerce which backs the plan is having its Christmas lunch sponsored by the proposed developers.
The South Wales Chamber of Commerce in Swansea has publicly called on local businesses in the region to support RWE Innogy UK’s plan to build a wind farm on common land at Mynydd y Gwair, Swansea, as it believes it will help boost economic growth.
But local councillor Ioan Richard, who has been opposing plans for a wind farm at Mynydd y Gwair for more than 20 years, says he is concerned the Chamber’s Swansea Christmas lunch this year is being sponsored by RWE Innogy UK.
‘Consistently supported renewable energy projects’
On the chamber’s website the December 17 event is advertised: “Join us for our annual Swansea Christmas Dinner at the National Waterfront Museum, a delicious three course meal will be served, with comedian Chris Corcoran and a DJ until late! This event is sponsored by RWE Innogy UK Ltd.”
However, Elgan Morgan, Representation Manager for the South Wales Chamber of Commerce said of Mr Richard’s concerns: “The South Wales Chamber of Commerce has consistently supported renewable energy projects as in our Campaign for Welsh Business and in response to feedback from our members. We would not seek or allow sponsorship of our activities from an organisation with conflicting priorities to ours.”
Ex Swansea Lord Mayor Mr Richard said: “I and many other residents and upland farmers in Mynydd y Gwair who have opposed plans for giant wind turbines on this ancient piece of land are not happy the company behind the development is sponsoring the Christmas dinner of an organisation which is very public in its support for the project.”
The wind farm plan already has planning permission from Swansea council and an offer of a subsidy from the UK Government.
Land exchange application
But because of its location, the developers must offer alternative land in exchange for common land used up by the wind farm and in July this year the Welsh Government rejected a land exchange application by RWE Innogy UK.
However, RWE is confident the plan can be back on track and has now submitted a revised application which it says seeks to address in detail the issues raised during the previous land exchange proposal.
In mid September the South Wales Chamber of Commerce issued a press release saying: “We are pleased to see RWE has taken account of the concerns raised during the initial application and are submitting a revised application to get the Mynydd y Gwair wind farm built.
“The chamber is a firm supporter of renewable energy projects, for both the economic and environmental benefits they bring.
‘We’ve always supported business communities in which we operate’
“We would like to see more renewable energy projects coming to fruition so that Wales’ energy needs are secured, but, crucially, so that we can unlock the economic potential of the projects too.
“We would call on as many businesses as possible, especially those in the local area, who will benefit from supply chain opportunities, to come forward and support this application during the consultation period. It’s important the voice of business is heard in the debate.”
RWE’s Mynydd y Gwair Project Manager Gwenllian Elias said: “We’ve always supported the Welsh business communities in which we operate. “It’s important to us that as much of the £52m investment that Mynydd y Gwair represents can be directed locally. Raising awareness through events like this is just one of the ways we can help do that.”
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