A campaign group has come together to protest plans to build the UK’s tallest wind farm in south Wales.
The Y Bryn onshore wind farm proposes 26 wind turbines of up to 250m each, making them the UK’s tallest onshore wind farm structures.
The firm behind the plans insists it is listening to people’s concerns.
However, more than a thousand locals have joined the The Stop Y Bryn Wind Farm group – expressing concern about the site’s heritage, loss of outdoor space and environmental concerns.
Morgana Thompson, 51, from Bryn, started the petition to stop the construction of the wind farm.
She said: “My concerns mainly relate to the impact on our environment and the whole infrastructure for the wind farm. I worry about their transportation impact on the road network and their place in relation to soil.”
Andrew Thomas, who joined Morgana as a campaign leader, felt obliged to get involved when he heard the proposals.
He said: “The main issues are all environmental factors, if we’re honest, which sounds quite strange given that wind turbines are meant to be a solution to our environmental issues and energy concerns.
“We’re talking a region of land that historically has a lot of mining history. Those mining areas have not been mapped out extensively, so nobody really knows where those mining shafts are. Each one of these turbines is going away in excess of 700 tonnes and that’s not taking into consideration the weight of the foundation base as well the concrete.”
Other concerns related to possible damage to the area as well as the harm it could cause to wildlife.
Andrew explained: “Each of these turbines is going to take up a massive area of land, which is going to result in the destruction of the woodland. They’ll even have to create roads across the mountain region to transport the materials to put the turbines in place, taking up more green space.
“We seem to be using more and more power, and not thinking things through and thinking for the long term really. We need to just be coming up with sustainable answers rather than living sustainably to begin with.”
The impact of the wind farm on residents is a big concern for Rhodri Williams, from Bryn, who said: “We love where we live. We love the outdoor space that we have, and we love going out for walks and getting close to nature.
“We’ve heard about shadow flicker from the turbines and the low noise vibrations, and the visual pollution that these cause that let’s face it, for me, they’re visual pollution. It’s not something nice to look at.”
Rhodri was keen to stress he was not against green energy, however he argues the sacrifices made by residents outweigh any benefits.
Many within the group are particularly concerned about shadow flicker, where residents are subjected to repetitive changes in light, from either the sun or the moon, due to the turbine’s rotation.
Rhodri explained: “You’ll see that shadow flicker every, every few seconds going round and round. Even if you’ve got your curtains closed, you’ll see that shadow flicker come in through the curtains and you can’t escape from it.”
Recently. the group staged a protest on the steps of The Senedd to argue their case to those in power ahead of the plan’s submission.
County councillor Ross Thomas, who represents Maesteg West, said he has questions about the plans.
He said: “I regret that in Wales we haven’t had a national conversation about our future energy production or consumption with a mix of all renewable energy types, including wind, solar, tidal and hydro.
“The latter of course is something we could do with relative ease across the northern half of Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot as each valley has a watercourse running through it – and there are already community-based schemes in other parts of Wales to work from where energy is generated and used locally. To that end, plans like Y Bryn will continue popping up. I think it’s unfair on local communities for there not to have been a national conversation right across Wales that properly considers all types of renewable energy under one framework.”
The energy company behind the wind turbines have assured they are taking all of these concerns into account. Plans to evaluate safety for construction on mining areas, environmental impacts and physical wellbeing are all in the works – with the outcomes directly impacting whether the proposal can go ahead.
Trevor Hunter, Y Bryn Project Manager, said: “The deadline has recently passed on our first phase of consultation on Y Bryn Wind Farm. We were really pleased with the level of engagement and grateful for all the feedback received, which included a wide range of views. We’ll be working on analysing all the comments, queries and information submitted across the summer as we refine our proposals ahead of a second phase of consultation later this year.
“The feedback received, along with the results of ongoing survey work and assessment will help us shape the proposals and provide answers to some of the queries raised during the initial consultation. We look forward to discussing our refined scheme in the autumn.”