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Concerns raised over environmental impact of giant offshore wind farm plans

20 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Photo by Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash

Richard Evans, Local democracy reporter

A plan to build a giant wind farm off the north Wales coast has sparked health and environmental concerns.

Mona Offshore Wind Farm is proposed for the Irish Sea off the coasts of Llanddulas and Abergele.

The project consists of up to 107 wind turbines – with the final number yet to be decided.

There are currently two scenarios – one in which there would be 107 turbines up to 293m in height and one in which there would be a maximum of 68 turbines with a height of up to 324m.

But the wind farms will also require onshore substations, and councillors in both Denbighshire and Conwy have been asked to comment on the plans for the wind farm and onshore infrastructure to connect the wind turbine generators to each other and the National Grid.

The cables would be connected to land at Llanddulas and Pensarn and, according to the plans, would be buried below the seabed to landfall.

Buried under the ground, the onshore export cables would transfer the electricity to the onshore substation.

Substations

Mona Offshore Wind Farm Ltd say both substation options are in Denbighshire – one located to the south of St Asaph Business Park and the other southwest of St Asaph.

Councillors in Denbighshire are set to discuss the plans on Wednesday, but at a meeting at Bodlondeb, members of Conwy’s planning committee had several concerns.

“It has been a point of concern with certain residents that the cables do kick off a lot of heat,” said Cllr Ifor Lloyd.

When asked by planning officers about his concerns, Cllr Lloyd said he wanted assurances about both human and animal health.

Cllr Andrew Wood, however, raised the issue of beach erosion and said developers needed to be aware of drilling near the old landfill site at Llanddulas, which he claimed was already posing an environmental risk.

“The tip is getting exposed again,” he said, blaming sea defences moving with the tide.

“It will get exposed. You’ve basically got a coastal path a couple of metres wide, and the tip is right behind it.

“It was a landfill tip for the whole of Conwy and was used until around 2010 and then capped off.

“It has methane gas meters on the top. It is a tip that is dissolving slowly. It is next to the sea.”

Bridges

Cllr Nigel Smith also worried about old bridges being used by articulated lorries involved in the work, pointing to the fact that the Pensarn Railway Bridge was built in 1848 and not meant to bear the weight of large vehicles carrying heavy loads.

The plans constitute a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project under the Planning Act 2008, requiring a Development Consent Order to be granted by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.

Such applications are formally submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for a decision whilst marine planning lies with the Welsh Government.

The applicant intends to start construction in 2026 and be fully operational by 2030.

It was explained to councillors that this was a separate application to the Awel y Mor Wind Farm proposed off the Llandudno coastline, which currently sits with the planning inspectorate.


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Gareth Westacott
Gareth Westacott
9 months ago

No more wind turbines, on Welsh land or waters!

Bethan
Bethan
9 months ago

I thought that read, ‘No more wind turbines OR Welsh land or waters’ and I thought it was a funny way of putting NIMBYism into current perspective… alas no. We all have to make sacrifices. Some people have nuclear reactors ruining their window vistas (a far more concerning blot on the map). Some people have remnants of the coal fuelled industrial age blackening out their local environments. Wind turbines are a fix we need right now. There have been far more permanent and damaging stains on the landscape that a lot of people didn’t complain about. It’s like breaking a… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  Bethan

The two reactor buildings in Traws have a quality of their own, a prehistoric presence viewed across the lake from a north bound A470, two great blocks of weathered old concrete, like two great monoliths, they resonate with the great holes in the grey slate tip mountains, the white washed Stwlan dam is a mirage of Longshanks’ original white castle that stands out on the skyline to the south. If you have stood next to the two massive standing stones near Bryn Gwyn Henge on Ynys Mon the feeling can be similar to Traws. The landscape wraps itself around these… Read more »

max wallis
max wallis
9 months ago

The construction effects for the underground lines from the coast to NGrid’s line past St Asaph are surely more significant than the substation, in whichever location. A connection to the regional grid might require its strengthening to take the few 100MW, as has been feasible for the other offshore wind-farms.
Reports show that the NGrid Company have been dilatory in adding new lines to cope with the generation by Scottish wind turbines. Is the same true of the N.Wales turbines?

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