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Warning that ‘double size’ wind farms would blow away tourism in Conwy

08 Oct 2021 6 minutes Read
Gwynt y Môr wind-farm and the Conwy river. Picture by Dunnock_D (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Plans for wind turbines ‘double the size’ of the current crop have been opposed in Conwy amidst fears for tourism and the landscape.

If the plans get the go-ahead, the proposed Awel Y Môr wind farm will stretch between Colwyn Bay and Llanfairfechan adjacent to the existing Gwynt y Môr site.

The wind farm would be around 10.5 km off the Great Orme.

At a special planning committee meeting of Conwy’s local authority, councillors heard how the wind farm is a national significant infrastructure project.

Cllr Andrew Hinchliffe feared beautiful views, such as those enjoyed from Llanfairfechan, could be ‘destroyed’.

“From where we are now, we can only see the present turbines over Llandudno, which is very surprising, but these will be double the height and extending right across the vista, which I find very difficult,” he said.

“I think this is far too much. If they were going to build this, surely turbines could be much further out and less intrusive on our landscape.

“I think we’ve got to suggest they make them less obvious because I think they are going to destroy our vistas and our historic landscape.”

‘Visual impact’

The meeting was part of a pre-planning committee statuary consultation process. The consultation gives Conwy County Council, as well as other public bodies, the chance to have their say before October 11.

The developer, RWE Renewables, has put forward two options:

Option A for 48 ‘large’ wind turbine generators, with a rotor diameter of up to 300m and a blade height of up to 332m above Mean High Water Springs.

Option B for up to 91 ‘small’ wind turbine generators, with a rotor diameter of up to 220m and a blade height of up to 252m above Mean High Water Springs.

But Conwy planning officers advised councillors to oppose the plans, citing damage to the visual landscape, sea scape and harm to tourism. Conwy also had concerns about the impact on conservation areas such as Llandudno, which relies on its Victorian heritage.

The council report also raised fears of noise pollution created by the wind farm’s construction.

Conwy planning officer Ceri Thomas said: “We do recognise that national planning policy, both at a UK and a Wales level, very strongly supports offshore wind farms. That is the reality of the situation. So we are not objecting to the principle of offshore wind energy,” he said.

“But we do have particular concerns in relation to this particular scheme.”

Cllr Ken Stevens had concerns about the visual impact.

“I’ve seen no visualisations of what this would look like from Penmaenmawr seafront,” he said.

“As things stand now, we have a totally pristine and natural view from the tip of the Great Orme to Puffin Ireland.”

He added: “The most we can do about this is make a protest because it is central and local government policy, so basically all we can do is choose between (option) A or B.”

Cllr Sue Lloyd-Williams said the wind farms could damage the views of rural areas overlooking the coast.

“We have to be aware, as Ceri (Thomas) has already noted really, large scale renewable energy can have absolutely significant and detrimental impacts on the environment, landscape, saturation and of course tourism,” she said.

“Not only tourism on a coastal front, but it also impacts on our wards closer up the valleys, and to be honest, the impact can be felt throughout my ward as well.”

‘Crisis’

But Cllr Peter Lewis proposed councillors went against officers’ recommendations and supported the wind farm plans.

“I have to say I take a totally different view because I just wonder as a nation where we are proposing to get our future energy needs, unless we actually support these developers offshore,” he said.

“For that reason, I would take a contrary view to the officers and propose we support the development consent order.”

Cllr Nigel Smith backed Cllr Lewis, seconding his proposal.

“I would ask our committee members to be mindful of the fact that we have declared a climate crisis,” he said.

“And also, we (Conwy County Council) decided that we would go carbon neutral by 2035 ourselves in Conwy. Like Cllr Lewis, I’m concerned about how we will generate our electricity going forward, and obviously wind turbines are one of the options. I do have reservations about the size of these turbines, and it is really disappointing that we are not looking at an application today for a tidal lagoon, which I think would be the better option because it generates electricity 24 hours a day with the tides. rather than relying on wind.

“But we are not looking at a tidal lagoon today, so I will be happy to second Cllr Peter Lewis’ proposal because I’m concerned about the future generation of fuel that we need to power our country.”

‘Very big’

But Cllr Ifor Lloyd said renewable energy from wind wasn’t reliable.

“Just as a counter argument to what has been discussed by Cllr Lewis and Cllr Smith, if they remember for three months prior to this bit of wind we are having now, they (the turbines) stood still and produced no electric at all,” he said.

“You have a lot of wind and a lot of electric at one time, and you cannot store that. So we haven’t got the infrastructure at this moment in time to put them (the energy) into hydrogen cells, so we haven’t got a hydrogen factory in the area, so unless we are going to invest in that first, we are putting the cart before the horse. It just sticks in my throat. There are different ways of producing energy renew-ably.

“Cllr Nigel Smith touched on tidal energy, but we do have hydro schemes we could potentially use because we do have a lot of rain because of climate change, so why don’t we tap into that?”

He added: “They (turbines) are very big. They do impact us, and they are very inefficient, and they are not very reliable, so this is more unreliable renewable energy (rather) than reliable renewable energy.”

Eight members of the planning committee voted in favour of following officers’ advice and objecting to the plans. Two voted against, and one councillor abstained.

Conwy County Council will now send a report objecting to the plans before a planning application is made by the developer.

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Ex Plaid member
Ex Plaid member
14 days ago

Bring them to Cardigan Bay, shallow water more then 5 miles out, no problem. If the MOD complain they affect their radar station at Aberporth, point out of they can cope with a few turbines, the UK should avoid war with any nation armed with wind turbines like Denmark.

Hedda Mulgrew
Hedda Mulgrew
14 days ago

Yeah, cos there will build them without thinking of the radar implications.

Bear in mind Aberporth employs lots of civilians as well

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
12 days ago
Reply to  Hedda Mulgrew

And your point is?

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
14 days ago

I come from Llandudno and I support the wind farm. We all need to play our part to combat climate change.

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
14 days ago

Who is this electricity going to? Because the previous eyesores on our coast are supplying Merseyside as always.

Dim problem
Dim problem
14 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

You might want to look up how the electricity grid works. Hint: it’s not the same as water. Power stations in Gloucestershire and Yorkshire are keeping the lights on in Caerdydd and Y Rhyl

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
14 days ago
Reply to  Dim problem

In other words we are producing double the electricity our country needs and the rest is going to England because that is what’s happening. We produce double our energy needs and we get nothing in return as the tax goes to England and is classed as English tax because these companies are English owned.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
14 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

Which is precisely why we need independence, it will give control over our own natural resources rather than having them siphoned off by a foreign colonial power.

Dim problem
Dim problem
14 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

Get a grip

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
13 days ago
Reply to  Dim problem

So to be clear, you are perfectly happy for the profits from electricity generation to be siphoned off to a foreign country (England) and for those profits to be taxed in a foreign country (England) meaning that Wales does not benefit from its own natural resources. As for your comment (below to GW Atkinson) about ‘our wind’ yes you are right it isn’t ‘our wind’ BUT the land and coastal areas on which the wind turbines are built IS ours so in that sense it is a natural resource that belongs to Wales – and which is being exploited for… Read more »

Dim problem
Dim problem
14 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

The companies pay to build the wind turbines, not the Welsh taxpayer. Most of those companies are European-owned anyway, like RWE. The idea that it’s “our wind” is as ridiculous as the “happy British fish” nonsense from Rees-Mogg.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
13 days ago
Reply to  Dim problem

“The companies pay to build the wind turbines, not the Welsh taxpayer.” There was a time (not that long ago in fact) when the power utilities were state-owned for the benefit of the people and they were funded out of taxes and the profits they made. The Tories decided to privatise them as they thought it more important to put private profits ahead of public good (they did the same with water, gas, the railways and telecoms). Of course the profits that the government made from selling them off were handed to the rich in the form of tax cuts,… Read more »

Hedda Mulgrew
Hedda Mulgrew
14 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

You don’t seem up on the logistics or economics. The power stations – owned by various global concerns sell power to Europe and Eire. Not just England which is irrelevant anyway as Wales has no gas reserves so gets far more of that than electricity. Wales get what everyone gets : jobs in those private industries if you are able or want one. Plus electricity requirements are increasing, so it is unlikely to be that Wales over produces forever – there is a huge cable hitting the shore from Norway in Blythe. Whether there is a nationalist front in Norway… Read more »

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
13 days ago
Reply to  Hedda Mulgrew

No Wales does not get what everyone gets. Our natural resources are being siphoned off for the benefit of a foreign colonial power (England), the profits got to foreign companies (and not just English ones) and the taxes go to the English treasury (who then shamefully try to claim that we don’t pay enough taxes to make independence viable). And yes wind energy is OUR natural resource. The wind might blow across the whole of Europe but there is a reason you don’t see many wind farms in the so-called ‘Home Counties’ of England, it isn’t a good place to… Read more »

Hedda Mulgrew MSc (Econ)
Hedda Mulgrew MSc (Econ)
12 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

There is a massive great HMRC building in Cardiff, of course they know where tax is generated.

There are scores of windfarms in England on land and offshore.

England provides Wales with gas.

Prove that Wales generates 25 billion more than anyone says?!

Sadly suckers are paying YesCymru a direct debit for this rot.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
12 days ago

Hedda you are missing the point. The companies that own these wind farms aren’t based in Wales so the taxes they pay aren’t paid in Wales either thus creating the impression that Wales generates less wealth than it actually does and pays less tax than it actually does. The energy from these wind farms is generated in Wales so ultimately the wealth they generate should be taxed in Wales but it isn’t. Instead the wealth generated from Welsh wind farms gets taxed elsewhere (e.g. in London) as that is where the energy companies that own them are based. This allows… Read more »

Gill
Gill
14 days ago

Tourist won’t stop coming. Typical twp councillors fretting and whining about the wrong non problem. However foreignbowned windfarms are of no benefit to Welsh communities, and are mainly greenwashing tax scams. How about actually putting a moratorium on windfarm developments in Wales until they are community led? Of course we can’t, as energy policy is not devolved and Welsh Labour gvt not interested in responsible, sustainable Wales

Paul
Paul
14 days ago

The views from Llanfairfechan framed by Ynys Mon, Puffin Island and the Great Orme have to be one of the greatest in the world. A view I woke up to as a child and still can see in my memories even though I now live in mid Wales. We also need to move to green energy generation. We also need employment. Windmills employ very few people, contribute little to the local economy. So a bit further offshore to protect the tourism industry (they put oil rigs in much deeper water) . Perhaps time for a tidal barrage across the Conwy… Read more »

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
14 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Same here, I lived about 100 metres away from the promenade in Caradog Place. Unfortunately the whole street has been bought out as holiday homes.

Selwyn Cadogan MA (Cantab)
Selwyn Cadogan MA (Cantab)
13 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

Your old neighbours must have made a killing. Enough to buy a place abroad.

Cymry del Sol. ,,,,

Clive Nadin
Clive Nadin
14 days ago

Is Cllr Ifor Lloyd stuck in a little bubble??? Wind produced no electricity for three months??? Where does he get such crazy ideas? In the last month, 21.6% of the UK’s energy was produced by wind. In the last year, it was 18%….!! Admittedly, in the windy weather of the last week, 8.05GW was produced by wind, which was 28.7% of the national demand. But even in less windy times, electricity is STILL generated.

Keith Parry
Keith Parry
14 days ago

Are these of any benefit to the people of Wales? Who owns them? Do they pay taxes to the County Council and Welsh Government? How many local people do they employ?

Hedda Mulgrew
Hedda Mulgrew
13 days ago
Reply to  Keith Parry

Nothing to do with the council – they are offshore.

And they will probably employ as many local people who have the skills and attitude to contribute.

Like anything else.

Tabor
Tabor
14 days ago

How much does the crown receive from the wind farms?

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
14 days ago

So they keep the tourists away? Just another benefit of wind power then.

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
13 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

But it does not keep them away, the same arguments were trotted out last time, they are a point of interest for many people.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
12 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

Ap Kenneth, it was a joke.

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