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Contentious plans for 130-metre high turbine on Gwent Levels approved

A wind turbine which would be the “tallest manmade structure” on the Gwent Levels near Newport has been given planning permission despite widespread concerns.

Plans for a 130-metre tall turbine near Redwick drew objections from residents, councillors and environmental agencies who claimed it would adversely impact the landscape.

Council officers admitted the scheme’s benefits “narrowly” outweighed its drawbacks and a single vote proved the difference after the planning committee gave its approval on Wednesday.

The meeting heard that the Clean Earth development is expected to generate enough low carbon electricity to power around 2,390 a year for up to 30 years.

Gareth Davies, planning manager for the energy firm, described the area as being “ideal” for wind turbines.

Local authorities have been asked by the Welsh Government to give greater weight to the need for renewable and low carbon energy when considering such applications.

But John Evans, a member of Redwick Community Council, claimed the impact of the moving blades had not been represented and that the plans were contrary to several council planning policies. Mr Evans also said the proposed site was not recognised as a potential wind power opportunity area in a renewable energy assessment conducted by Newport council in 2013.

Llanwern Conservative councillor Martyn Kellaway added: “We have to remember that this would be the single tallest manmade structure in the area by far. This isn’t nimbyism, as there are already three significantly smaller turbines around Redwick.”

Concerns had been raised by the Gwent Wildlife Trust and Natural Resources Wales about the impacts on wildlife. The area is a designated site of special scientific interest (SSSI) which the Trust says is of national importance.

Conservative councillor Val Dudley feared the council would be “glossing over” the environmental impacts but Labour councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi said: “I can’t understand the objection to wind turbines, I think they’re good. You have pylons and warehouses in that landscape. I feel we’d be hiding to nothing if we were to refuse this.”

The final vote ended with six Labour councillors supporting the application and the remaining five committee members made up of Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Newport Independents voting in opposition.