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‘Giant eyesores’: Alarm over plan for wind turbines as tall as the Gherkin at beauty spot 

Credit:  By Andrew Forgrave, Countryside and tourism editor | 20 OCT 2022 | dailypost.co.uk ~~

Opposition to a mega wind farm planned in the picturesque Dee Valley is gathering pace. An online group has been set up to highlight the impact of turbines that will be amongst the tallest in Britain and dominate local landscapes.

German firm RWE has set out outline plans for its 15-turbine Gaerwen Wind Farm on Mynydd Mynyllod, which lies mainly in Denbighshire and overlooks the communities of Llandrillo, Llandderfel, Cynwyd and Glanrafon. Each turbine will stand up to 180 metres (590ft) from base to blade tip.

The prospect has alarmed many living nearby but has also been welcomed by others who support renewable energy. Opponents worry the turbines will be as tall as the Gherkin building in London and so cause visual blight to nearby homes and tourism businesses.

Coordinating opposition to the scheme is Martin Glyn Murray, 56, a Llandderfel businessman who sprang to fame as an actor and musician. As well as being lead guitarist in 1990s hit band the Mock Turtles, he enjoyed roles in films such as Enemy at the Gates, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and, alongside his drama school classmate Steve Coogan, Philomena.

Now a supplier of western-style horse saddles, he and partner Pia Tiainen, with other residents, created an online action group to share information amid concerns RWE’s plans were flying under the local radar. Within two days, nearly 200 people had signed up.

View of the site for the proposed Gaerwen Wind Farm on Mynydd Mynyllod (Image: Martin Glyn Murray)

“I support green energy but tourism, and the natural beauty of our landscapes, need our support just as much,” he said. “The proposed site is rich with peat, an important carbon store, and RWE has been unable to say how they would protect it. There is a suspicion this mountain was chosen only because it’s cheaper than building wind farms off shore.”

The proposed site is an area of upland moorland with some forestry that lies between the Dee Valley and Nant Ffrauar to the west. Braich Ddu, an existing three-turbine unit, skirts the site, as does the A494.

As well as turbines, associated infrastructure is needed, including a substation, energy storage and access roads. At least one anemometer mast, as tall as the turbines to measure wind speeds, is needed for the duration of the wind farm’s 35-year lifespan.

A separate planning application is needed for grid connection to the nearest point 2km away. Given the height of the turbines, aviation obstacle lighting is needed and this must be agreed with the Civil Aviation Authority.

The UK’s tallest wind turbines, at 200 metres, are located at Lethans, Scotland. However plans have been put forward for 26 turbines between Port Talbot and Maesteg that would dwarf even these. If built, they will reach 250 metres with a rotor diameter of 170 metres.

Consultants acting for RWE said Planning Policy Wales (PW) believes low-carbon electricity “must become the main source of energy in Wales”. They added: “PPW notes that energy demand is expected to grow due to the growing electrification of transport and heat.”

Martin, who was raised in the area, feels the wind farm is being shoehorned into an area bordered by protected landscapes. The Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty lies nearby and Snowdonia National Park (SNP) comes to within 4.5km of its boundary. Other designated areas nearby include the Penllyn Special Landscape Area and SSSIs on the Berwyn Mountains.

His step-father is Andrew Jedwell, founder of Meridian Foods, Corwen. As a veteran wind farm campaigner, via the Stop the Exploitation of Mynydd Mynyllod group (STEMM), he too is concerned at the visual and environmental impacts of the RWE proposal.

“The height of each turbine will be five times that of Llandrillo church spire,” he said. “RWE says it will remedy any environmental damage but I can’t see how they will overcome pouring 2,000 tonnes of concrete into the ground to form the base of each turbine.”

Late last year RWE published a scoping study, which set out potential impacts that must be studied prior to a formal planning application. On September 27, the company hosted a briefing session for Llandrillo Community Council which was attended by affected landowners and around 20 curious locals.

Despite this, Martin worries too little information is being shared with local communities. “There have been no images, mock-ups or maps showing the areas from which the turbines would be visible,” he said. “Nothing but a map of Mynydd Mynyllod.”

He has written to Llandrillo’s councillors asking them to demand from RWE a gallery of computer-modelled images and impact scenarios. Residents need to make informed decisions, and be aware of potential effects on property prices, he said. “At the meeting, RWE categorically stated that no affected home or business owner would be given any compensation for their losses,” he added.

Arfon Edwards, development manager for RWE’s Gaerwen wind farm project, stressed the project is at an early stage. However next month the firm is launching a three-week public consultation.

He said: “RWE has a long history of working with communities in North Wales, whether it’s in consultation for proposed developments or community benefit packages, or even our UK-wide apprenticeship programme in partnership with Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, and we intend to continue doing so.

“We intend to hold a number of events at different locations during a comprehensive three-week consultation period starting next month, which will enable nearby interested groups to speak with the project team and view the proposals in detail, including aspects such as environmental and visual impact. As well as circulating information through local press and online, we will also be writing to households in the area directly to invite them along, to ensure everyone has access to information on the project, should they wish to find out more.”

Source:  By Andrew Forgrave, Countryside and tourism editor | 20 OCT 2022 | dailypost.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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