Mountain earmarked for major wind turbine development ‘not stable’
A mountain which is earmarked for a major wind turbine development in Blaenau Gwent is “not stable” councillors have warned.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday, February 9 councillors discussed a “working draft” of the council’s Local Impact Report on a an application by Pennant Walters Ltd.
The firm wants to build eight wind turbines with a maximum blade height of 180 metres at Mynydd Carn y Cefn between Abertillery and Cwm.
The scheme has been deemed a Development of National Significance (DNS) and the Welsh Government’s Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) department is processing the application.
In this instance the council is a consultee rather than decision maker, with the Welsh Government deciding the application.
The report is Blaenau Gwent’s opportunity of feeding into the process, by explaining what they think PEDW should take careful note of when deciding the application.
Coal mining had once taken place on the mountain.
Planning committee chairwoman, Cllr Lisa Winnett said: “Fissures at the top of the mountain above South Griffin Terrace (Blaina) had to be filled by the Coal Authority and also a rock fall is not mentioned in the report.”
Cllr Winnett said that in the past she had reported a rock fall to the Coal Authority.
She had also told Natural Resources Wales that iron ore had been leaking from the mountain and seeping into river.
Cllr Winnett said: “I do feel this would have significant local impact.”
“There is a natural fault running through the mountain and my concern is that vibration from these turbines will affect its stability.”
Cllr Peter Baldwin believed that a “magnifying glass” should be taken to a report for a previous smaller wind turbine application which was refused by Blaenau Gwent nine years ago.
Cllr Derrick Bevan said: “I was on the planning committee in 2014 when two turbines were turned down 50 metres smaller than what these are.
“They appealed against our decision, and it was dismissed – how they can allow eight is beyond me – it should not even be considered.”
Cllr Malcolm Day believed that it was important that the Blaenau Gwent public are also galvanised to object to the proposals during the public consultation phase.
Cllr Day, who grew up playing on the mountain as a child, said there were now “chasms” near the top that had not been there before.
Cllr Day said: “That mountain is not stable, the bottom line is the amount of concrete needed to support the turbine and the vibrations has to have a detrimental effect.
“I have no objection to renewable energy but it needs to be in the right place.”
Other councillors pointed out that the council’s status as a statutory consultee in the process begged the question whether their opinions would hold any weight with PEDW.
Cllr John Hill said: “I’m a bit cynical on all of this as I think the only reason we can’t decide this is that the powers that be knew that we would never allow it – so I think whatever we do isn’t going to have a great affect.”
Planning development team manager, Steph Hopkins explained that that Cefn y Carn is one of a number of pre-assessed areas throughout Wales identified by the Welsh Government for wind turbines schemes.
Ms Hopkins said: “You’ve all raised valid points, it’s not a foregone conclusion.
“They (sites) have been pre-assessed in terms of acceptable impact on landscape only.
“Everything else is up for considerations.”
She said that PEDW would have to consider the site’s planning history and that ground investigations should take place and not just rely on the current desktop study.
Ms Hopkins said: “We will push that point and urge PEDW to take this up in detail with the Coal Authority if it’s not already addressed in their response.
“We will beef up this report in the way members have requested.”
She asked the committee to delegate powers to planning officers to be able add in their concerns into the report and then send it to PEDW
Councillors voted to make this so.
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