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Concerns that wind turbines proposal would affect bird species

09 Feb 2024 4 minute read
A Kestrel – studies look at the effects of Wind Turbines on some species of bird including the Kestrel. By Maliesplatvoet from Pixabay

Elgan Hearn Local Democracy Reporter

Concerns have been raised that many bird species could be affected by wind turbines if they are built at a new Welsh location.

At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday, February 8, councillors received the Local Impact Report (LIR) on the planning application by Pennant Walters to build eight wind turbines on Mynydd Llanhilleth.

“Consultees”

The LIR gives the authority a chance to outline the potential effect of the development on the area and also put forward the planning policies that the inspector should consider when evaluating the project.

The application is mostly across the border in Torfaen County Borough – but the western part of the site is close to the village of Llanhilleth in Blaenau Gwent.

The application for the turbines which would be 180 metres height is being dealt with by Welsh Government planning inspectors at Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW).

This means that Blaenau Gwent along with Torfaen are consultees rather than decision makers for the proposal.

A Welsh Government minister will eventually announce the decision based on a recommendation by planning inspectors.

At the meeting planning officer Joanne White explained that two of the eight wind turbines are in Blaenau Gwent

These are turbine three which is to the east of Llanhilleth and turbine eight which to the southwest of Tir Pentwys Quarry site.

Turbine eight is in the Welsh Government’s pre-assessed area for wind energy.

A Curlew, the birds have been spotted on Mynydd Llanhilleth. From Pixabay.

According to Mrs White the main concerns identified in the LIR are the cumulative impact the turbines would have both visually on the landscape and upon ecology and biodiversity.

This is especially the case when considering this development in combination with all other DNS schemes that are “coming forward.”

There was also a “lack of information to fully assess the quarry site” when it comes to protecting minerals there.

She added that environment body Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – had raised concerns that the access track to turbine eight could disturb the geological features for which the quarry is designated as a regional important geological site and is proposed to be a future SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

“Negative impact”

Overall, it was deemed that the development to have a “negative” impact on based on these issues.

Cllr Lee Parsons: “There are some issues in the report that I would like to make people aware of.

“This has been my birding area for the last 30 years.

“I have a feeding station adjacent to the proposal and I have been running that for the last 14 years.

“Kestrel and Red Kite are the birds that have been mentioned in there (report) there’s no mention of the likes of Nightjar which are schedule one (protected) birds.”

He explained that Curlew Recovery Projects are being set up all across the UK.

Cllr Parsons said: “There are Curlews on this land, I know this because I’m up there every day possible I can.”

He added that Meadowpipet and Skylarks that are the main host for the Cuckoo eggs can all be found on the common.

“All this has to be taken into account,” said Cllr Parsons.

Cllr Parsons said that he had taken photographic evidence to the developer and “made them aware” of every species of interest on the common.

He believed that a “desk-top report” on the birds and wildlife of the area should be conducted.

Cllrs Parsons: “There are many species that have been missed.”

Council ecologist Nadine Morgan explained that the applicants are following Nature Scotland guidance – who have researched the impact of wind farms on birds.

Ms Morgan said: “That’s why some species have not been included.

“It has been highlighted to them (Pennant Walters), but their response is that they are looking at target species of high risk such as the Kestrel and Red Kite.”

Cllr Wayne Hodgins said: “With turbine eight the stability question has been raised and raised.

“If NRW have major concerns there is something not right here.”

Committee chairwoman Cllr Lisa Winnett told councillors so that the LIR was submitted in time to PEDW she had seen and signed off the report before Christmas.

Cllr Winnett expected a planning hearing to take place to decide the application.

Processing the DNS application is currently suspended until February 19 to allow the applicants to submit more information to support the proposal.

Pennant Walters say that wind farm will generate 34 MW of electricity which is enough to power 21.500 homes for a year.


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hdavies15
hdavies15
23 days ago

Apart from the birds sliced and diced by blades there are also losses due to some kind of disorientation in flight. Add to that the wholesale tearing up of habitat and it all adds up to a destructive side effect of such investment. Perhaps we ought to try wind farms in urban areas and see how many humans get bumped off before government decide it’s a “bad thing”.

Ann
Ann
23 days ago

There needs to be much more use of brownfield sites and the rooves of large buildings for solar panels and wind turbines before more of the open countryside is destroyed.

Jim1
Jim1
23 days ago

That quoted figure of 21,500 homes is actually meaningless unless you specify exactly what that includes. For example, is that based on the current average electricity consumption of a house or is that a future projection allowing for the large scale conversion to domestic heat pumps and all family vehicles powered by electricity with charging at home. New homes are likely to be built without a gas connection if the ‘hydrogen economy’ fails to materialise so all cooking could be electric. That 21,500 figure is very likely to be cut drastically in the future. Ultimately, a very large number of… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
23 days ago

I understand there are quite a few mitigations now to protecting birds (and whales if you are Trump).

But lets forget the harm we do to birds on a far grander scale without windmills.

But we are back to “powering x number of homes”, no the firm will sell it to the grid and we are charged an arm and leg for the leccy. They make a profit, we need green but lets see the figures top to bottom so instead of powering x number of homes, they expect t make x millions over 20 years.

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