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Mega wind turbines ‘taller than Great Orme’ will ‘devastate’ beauty spot near Eryri 

Credit:  By Andrew Forgrave, Countryside and tourism editor | 1 FEB 2023 | dailypost.co.uk ~~

Views over the countryside surrounding Moelfre Uchaf

The spectre of Tryweryn has been raised by campaigners opposing a new wave of giant onshore wind turbines planned in Wales. Concerned villagers in Conwy fear the mega turbines will not only blight their own community but also swathes of the countryside across Wales.

Concern has focussed not only on the impact on places like Eryri (Snowdonia) but also the way Britain’s wind farms are being concentrated in rural Wales to serve urban areas in England. Last night around 100 people attended the first of three public meetings in Conwy to discuss proposals by Cardiff-based Bute Energy to build an “energy park” on the hills between Betws yn Rhos, Llangernyw and Llanfair TH.

A local residents’ group, the Society for the Conservation of our Heartland (Cymdeithas Cadwraeth y Berfeddwlad), claims the area around Moelfre Uchaf is earmarked for 20 turbines, each with a blade-tip height of up to 250 metres. Bute has disputed these figures, saying it is still currently scoping the area and final proposals have yet to be clarified.

A 12-month pre-application period has not been launched and it is only then that local communities will be formally consulted. Bute Energy said independent research showed most people in the area supported the idea of “clean, green energy”.

If erected at the height being claimed, the mega turbines would be amongst the largest ever built onshore. SCH has drawn up comparisons showing that tip heights will be taller than 207-metre Great Orme, Llandudno.

Size comparisons with the mooted Moelfre turbines (left) set against an outline of the Great Orme, Llandudno

They would dwarf a planned 77-metre turbine at nearby Plas Isaf Mawr, Llangernyw, that was rejected by Conwy Council in 2016. Each turbine would have a rotor diameter slightly longer than the Blackpool Tower is tall.

Anti-wind farm campaigner, Lyn Jenkins, of Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park, visited the area recently and was appalled by the wind farm’s potential for blight. He said: “With the turning circle they have, it would be like 20 Blackpool Towers revolving simultaneously. More, in fact, as they are larger.

“You can see the Blackpool Tower from North Wales, a distance of more than 40 miles, so these huge turbines will be visible over very large distances. You’ll certainly be able to see them from the top of Snowdon just 20 miles away.

“Unlike Blackpool Tower, the blades won’t be stationary – and they will be lit up to prevent air ambulances and rescue helicopters crashing into them. It will be devastating, and yet the people of North Wales are asleep about what’s happening.”

An era of “super-sized” turbines is fast approaching as technologies improve. Taller turbines can access more wind, while longer blades are more efficient at capturing any wind that is available.

Worried residents also have concerns over noise, flooding and infrasound – inaudible sounds sometimes blamed for Sick Building Syndrome. Villagers said they only became aware of the project after neighbours – some living within 700 metres of the planned wind farm – received Noise Agreement letters offering payments of £4,000 per year.

Llangernyw campaigner Non Davies said the Agreements signposted the potential for noise problems in the area. She blamed the Future Wales Plan (FWP) 2040 for opening the floodgates to “industrial-sized” wind farms that will “scar landscapes and communities”.

Onshore wind turbines have long been unpopular with grassroots conservatives in England but they have been embraced by the Labour-led Welsh Government. FWP 2040 sets out its framework for deciding where to locate “nationally significant developments” such as large wind farms. Decision‑makers must give “significant weight” to the Welsh Government’s 70% renewable target by 2030 to tackle its climate emergency.

North Wales has two “Pre‑Assessed Areas for Wind Energy”, sandwiched between Snowdonia and the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). In these, there is a “presumption in favour” of large‑scale wind farms – providing they don’t have “unacceptable adverse impacts” on the national park and AONB, nor on nearby communities and homes.

Moelfre Energy Park is in Pre‑Assessed Area 1, the most northerly in Wales. Below it, Pre‑Assessed Area 2 covers the Denbigh moors down to below the A5. Other communities are also up in arms over turbine creep.

When it comes to planning, ministers now have the final say on all on‑shore wind farms of 10 or more megawatts. Authorities in Snowdonia and Conwy will only be consultees.

The approach has paved the way for scores of new wind turbine applications. According to Non Davies, Wales already has a greater operational wind capacity than the power it uses. If planned wind farms are built, the amount of wind energy will exceed Wales’ power needs at least fourfold.

In contrast, communities in England have been able to veto wind proposals since 2015, a position restated by Rishi Sunak during his first Prime Ministerial campaign. In December, however, he bowed to backbench pressure and signalled a possible end to the de facto ban – but only for wind projects that can demonstrate “local support”.

Non Davies said money and energy will continue to flow out of Wales if the country is used as a “dumping ground” for England’s turbines. She evoked memories of reservoir projects that drowned communities such as Capel Celyn, near Bala. “We’ve always been generous like that,” she said. “Coal, slate, water and now energy. Cymru needs to wake up, this is indeed Tryweryn Take 2.”

Bute Energy has applications for 16 wind installations in Wales. The company said it is “committed to playing our part in responding to the Climate Emergency and cost of living crisis”. By generating clean energy, the schemes will “empower communities through investment, jobs and skills”.

Lyn Jenkins suspects much of the power will be exported across the border, where energy demand far outstrips England’s current renewables capacity. He said: “There’s not a single turbine in Shropshire and hardly any in Cheshire, Hereford and Gloucester.

“Does the wind stop blowing at Offa’s Dyke? There are no turbines in the Cotswolds, they don’t want to devalue their £5m houses there. In Wales we have more than we need already. I don’t know how we are accepting it, it’s absolutely disgusting.”

Connecting so many wind farms has also alarmed landscape campaigners. Two weeks ago the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) published a leaked letter from Bute Energy confirming its plans to develop a 132kV overhead line. This would run from the proposed Nant Mithil wind farm in Radnor Forest, near the England border, to Carmarthen in west Wales.

CPRW fears it’s the prelude to an “extensive pylon network stretching across Wales”. Spokesperson Ross Evans said: “Building a transmission network across huge swathes of scenic countryside is simply unacceptable.”

Bute Energy said Moelfre Energy Park is still at the assessment and feasibility stage. It is earmarked for one of the 10 FWP 2040 Pre-Assessed Areas that were identified as suitable for new wind energy developments in Wales.

A spokesperson said: “We are currently working on planning and environmental assessments to determine the potential number, size and location of wind turbines, and how we can keep any impact on the local community and nearby homes to a minimum. When this work is complete, we will be able to begin engagement with the local community, taking their views into account as we continue to evolve the design of the proposed Energy Park.

“We will also ask local people for suggestions on how any Community Benefit Fund could be spent – if the project is consented and built. Ahead of any consultation and engagement period, we will write directly to the local community and let them know how they can get involved and have their say.”

“We recognise that some people have differing views on new infrastructure. However, independent research shows that in Clwyd West, 83% of people support onshore wind and 88% of people support renewable projects in their area.”

Moelfre wind farm open meetings for residents

  • Feb 8: Neuadd Goffa / Memorial Hall Llanfairtalhaiarn, 7.30pm;
  • Feb 27: Canolfan Bro Cernyw, Llangernyw, 7.30pm.
Source:  By Andrew Forgrave, Countryside and tourism editor | 1 FEB 2023 | 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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