Disagreement over a bat colony that could delay work on a new wind farm to the north of Swansea, appears to be in the air.
RWE Innogy UK have been granted planning permission to construct 16 turbines at Mynydd y Gwair in Felindre but AM for South Wales West Suzy Davies has met with the firm to discuss the issue of bats living in trees which are potentially threatened by a new access road to the site.
Mrs Davies said she welcomed a decision by Swansea Council’s ecologist to request a site visit from environmental consultants Bioscan, who were engaged by Innogy to carry out an environmental assessment.
But following a separate visit by Dr David Waterhouse, who is an independent bat expert, there appear to be conflicting reports over the location of a tree where bat activity has been identified.
Mrs Davies said: “Action is needed to clear up any confusion about exactly where these bats are roosting. After reading the developer’s report and seeing other evidence from Dr Waterhouse, it appears there may be some confusion among the experts as to which trees they are talking about.
“Innogy’s ecologist asserts that the trees nearest the proposed access route do not offer any serious potential as bat roosts. There is reported bat activity in a tree some 30 metres from the route in a tree which will not be felled.
“But Dr Waterhouse contends that the tree, which may be a roost, is actually adjacent to the route and is due to be felled.
“It appears that Bioscan might not have checked the tree he is referring to. It’s just not clear.
“This issue is too important to be left in a state of confusion. We need to know once and for all whether there is a vulnerable roost in an unexamined tree. If there is, a special licence will be needed from Natural Resources Wales before any work can take place and mitigation steps will have to be taken.
“I have been in touch with NRW myself asking them if they will suspend their decision about what is to happen until the site visit has been held.”
Tim James, construction project manager from Innogy, however, said: “Our ecologist and Swansea Council’s ecologist met on site earlier this month and both were fully satisfied with our planned felling works. I can confidently clarify that the identified roost is in a tree that will not be felled nor affected by the felling works.
“We are strongly committed to safeguarding wildlife. We have carried out rigorous assessments and will continue to do so throughout construction of Mynydd y Gwair Wind Farm.”