Turbine collapse prompts concern among residents living near what would be the UK’s tallest wind farm
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
Residents living near the proposed site of what could be the UK’s tallest wind farm have expressed their concern after a turbine collapsed.
A 300ft wind turbine at Pant Y Wal wind farm near Gilfach Goch collapsed on Monday February 14, leaving a number of residents living nearby the proposed Y Bryn wind farm on edge.
The incident at Pant Y Wal is currently being investigated.
If approved, Y Bryn would be situated on land between the Llynfi and Afan valleys and would be home to turbines measuring 250m in height – Only the Shard (310m), The Helter-Skelter, TwentyTwo and The Pinnacle (278m) are taller in the UK.
Rhodri Williams, who is part of STOP Y Bryn Onshore Wind Farm – a community action group aimed at stopping the development of Y Bryn – said safety is a “huge concern” for residents in relation to the proposed project, which will straddle Bridgend County Borough and Neath Port Talbot County Borough.
He said: “You can imagine if one of those comes crashing down that it is not going to be too far away from peoples’ homes.
“We are pushing for the whole proposal to be scrapped if not suspended until a full independent investigation has taken place so [that] we know the causes of this [collapse at Pant Y Wal].
“Residents are going to be very worried now about the dangers of these turbines.”
Cwmavon resident Andrew Thomas said he was “absolutely horrified” when he heard about the collapsed wind turbine at Pant Y Wal.
“These are very small turbines [in comparison] that came down in Gilfach.”
On Y Bryn wind farm, Andrew added: “These are the first [turbines] of their size to be [brought] to the UK. These things are going to be colossal.”
The wind farm, which will deliver in excess of 10 Megawatts, is classed as a Development of National Significance under the Planning (Wales) Act 2015.
This means that an application must be made to the Welsh Government’s Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) body, which will make a recommendation to Welsh Ministers on whether or not to grant planning permission.
An application submission is expected to be made in late spring this year. At the moment, the plans are still in the consultation stage.
A petition that was launched eight months ago to put a stop to Y Bryn wind farm has so far received over 1,100 signatures.
Wyn Britten-Jones of Maesteg said: “It would be a visual impact for us really. There are too many and they are too high.
“Most of the other turbines around here are only 90 to 100 meters and they are talking about 200 meters – 250 meters overall. That is too much, really.”
Gayle Davies, also from Maesteg, said she was also concerned about the recent collapse at Pant Y Wal. She will be able to see turbines from her bedroom window if the plans are approved.
Gayle said: “The wind turbines on Gilfach are small standing at 300ft compared to the 820ft turbines they want for Y Bryn wind farm.
“The devastation could be huge with an 820ft turbine falling onto one of these roads, especially if that happened during the day.”
The 21-turbine Y Bryn wind farm – reduced from the original proposal for 26 – is being proposed by Coriolis Energy and the Energy Supply Board (ESB).
Bridgend County Borough Council have been encouraging members of the public to engage in the consultation process.
In November, Cabinet Member for Communities, Stuart Baldwin said it was “important” that people continue to contribute their views.
He said at the time that whilst the project had not been proposed by the local authority, they wanted to ensure that “as many people take part in the consultation as possible because this project is likely to evolve over time.”
In response to residents’ concerns surrounding Y Bryn amid the collapse of a turbine at Pant Y Wal, an ESB spokesperson said: “We are aware of images on social media showing a turbine on the ground.
“These are exceptionally rare occurrences. We are monitoring the situation closely. However, we won’t be able to make a comment until further details are known.”
If Y Bryn project goes ahead, it would provide clean energy for 125,000 homes and contribute to carbon reduction targets in Wales.
The developers have also confirmed that up to a fifth of the Project will be available for community and public sector ownership, which will also contribute to Welsh Government targets of having at least 1 Gigawatt hours of renewable energy in community ownership by 2030.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Since the incident at Pant-y-Wal, we have been in contact with the wind farm operator to seek assurances that public safety is being prioritised, particularly in relation to maintenance and the condition of the turbines on site.
“Incidents of this kind are extremely rare. We cannot comment on the Y Bryn proposal. To do so may pre-judge or prejudice any decision which Welsh Ministers may make in relation to it.
“We would encourage people to engage with the ongoing pre-application process as the developer will be required to set out how it addresses any concerns received when making the application.”
After the incident at Pant Y Wal on Monday, a spokesperson from the wind turbine manufacturers, Nordex, said that no persons were injured and that the “only material damage that has occured as a result of the incident is to the turbine itself”.
The spokesperson added that all necessary safety measures were implemented immediately after the incident and that a team of local Nordex specialists with experts from Nordex main office were investigating the cause of the incident together with the wind farm owner.
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