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Pumlumon must be protected from windfarm plan

Pumlumon, the mountain at the very heart of mid Wales is once again under threat from developers. Now it is Lluest y Gwynt Wind Farm Limited who have designs on what is regarded as Wales’ third mountain massif, alongside Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons.

So where is Lluest y Gwynt? You will not find this place name on any OS map covering mid Wales, perhaps it is one of those fabricated names so beloved of wind farm developers?

Looking at the developer’s website the farm is above Ponterwyd, the community half way between Llangurig and Aberystwyth on the A44.

The proposed site spreads down the southern slopes of Pumlumon toward the mountain road connecting Ponterwyd to Talybont

The developer’s map of the proposed site shows the boundary going right up to the summit of Pumlumon Fawr and even though the developers assure us that they will go nowhere near the actual summit with a turbine, it will be hard to miss a 180m (590 feet) tall ‘cloudscraper’ even sited hundreds of metres from what is mid Wales’ highest mountain.

Also included in the proposed wind farm are; 1) significant blocks of the Pumlumon ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ (SSSI), 2) tracts of common land, 3) an NRW managed forest as well as part of the largest watershed in Wales – a massive sponge for rain water and carbon.

The proposed site is entirely within Ceredigion but the Local Authority’s Local Development Plan (LDP) has designated this section of the Cambrian Mountains as a Special Landscape Area (SLA).

Ceredigion County Council, however, will not be the decision-makers for this wind farm when, and if, it goes to planning consent, their part will be reduced to statutory consultants in the process, alongside the likes of The Coal Authority and The Ministry of Defence.

The decision will be made by a Welsh Government Minister having taken advice from the body Developments of National Significance (DNS) part of Planning Inspectorate Wales.

Lluest y Gwynt Wind Farm Ltd’s website points to the wind farm consisting of up to 24 turbines and that each, to blade tip, may reach 180m (590 feet) into the sky.

To put things into perspective, Garreg Llwyd wind farm south of Newtown has 17 turbines each with a blade tip height of approximately 125m (410 feet) and, even more into perspective, the tallest tree in Wales, a Douglas Fir growing near Llyn Vyrnwy, reaches a height of only 61metres (199 feet).

But what has not been made clear as yet is, how many kilometres of access tracks will snake over these rolling hills? Also, how will the electricity generated be carried away from the site?

The Cambrian Mountains Society (CMS), a registered charity whose raison d’être is the protection and conservation of the whole of the Cambrian Mountains, is very concerned over this industrialisation of what is an iconic semi-natural landscape.

The society sees the development as extremely damaging to all aspects of the landscape, its ecology, hydrology, archaeological setting, and culture and tourism.

As such CMS will be formally objecting if and when the plans go to DNS. CMS, however, stresses that it supports low impact renewable energy generation, it just cannot see the justification in siting a wind farm in such an outstanding landscape, a landscape that the former ‘Countryside Council’ thought of high enough quality to be designated a National Park.

This is not the place to go into a detailed description of the case against the wind farm but perhaps it is time for Lluest y Gwynt Wind Farm Ltd to reflect on their proposed plans.

One of the two partners forming LyG Wind Farm Ltd is Statkraft, a state owned Norwegian company and Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy.

Locally Statkraft already operates the Rheidol Hydropower Plant which sources its ‘hydro’ from Pumlumon and surrounding hills, via the Nant y Moch reservoir.

This plant generates 89GWh of reliable renewable electricity per annum, enough to power the equivalent of approximately 23,000 homes. The question then is this: Is this not a sufficient contribution for one, much loved, mountain to make to the nation’s energy needs?

Peter Foulkes,

Acting chairperson of the Cambrian Mountains Society,

Machynlleth.