A wind farm developer says the Welsh Government has given the green light for a 16-turbines on moorland to the north of Swansea.
However opponents to the wind farm claim any celebrations by RWE Innogy UK are prematur as there is still an issue over an access road.
The firm had already been given the necessary planning consent for the controversial proposal at Mynydd y Gwair in Felindre by Swansea Council but needed the go-ahead to exchange common land to make it viable.
Now, however, the Welsh government has approved RWE Innogy’s common land applications to facilitate the construction and operation of the 33.6MW Mynydd y Gwair wind farm.
The final decision, announced by Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths AM, follows the recommendation of an independent planning inspector who led a public inquiry into RWE Innogy’s application earlier this year.
Greeting the news Gwenllian Elias, Mynydd y Gwair wind farm development project manager, said: “After many years of detailed planning, involving the input of dozens of experts, and the balanced consideration of politicians, communities and professionals alike, Mynydd y Gwair Wind Farm has been given consent under the Common Act (2006) which means we can now construct the 16-turbine, up to 48 megawatt project.
“Swansea’s first ever large scale onshore wind farm will make a significant contribution towards meeting Wales’ renewables targets and will generate enough clean, green electricity to power up to 24,700 households.
“Not only that, but the wind farm could have a substantial economic impact too; work associated with the potential £52 million project will be placed with companies in the region where possible.
“We are also setting up a community benefit fund which will distribute up to £240,000 every year to local good causes, for the lifetime of the project of around 25 years.”
She added: “We intend to start construction of the wind farm before the end of the year.”
A large campaign against the wind farm was mounted by locals and those concerned about the impact on the common land, amongst whom was television naturalist Dr David Bellamy; a staunch opponent of wind power, joined a protest walk at the site in 2005.
Mawr ward councillor Ioan Richard, who has opposed what he saw as the destruction of a rare and beautiful mountain top, said: “It’s been a momentous decision for them but they haven’t been granted access yet so we will carry on fighting.
“We have been fighting this since 1992, that’s 24 years, it’s been the longest wind farm battle in this country, it’s taken a whole generation. We have fought them tooth and nail.”
Vowing not to give up he added: “They will have to find a new access and we will fight that all the way.”
Pontarddulais community councillor John Miles, who has also opposed the wind farm, pointed out that Gwenllian Elias was premature in declaring work would begin in this year.
He said: “The access route has been refused by the minister so I fail to see how Gwenllian Elias can say that they are going to start work.
“They only have consent for the land exchange. As far as I’m concerned, we have won and we will wait to see what the7y doi next over access.”
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