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Brechfa Forest wind farm approved despite concern.

Byline: DAVID WILLIAMSON Political Editor

A PROPOSED 28-turbine wind power development at Brechfa Forest West in Carmarthenshire was yesterday given the green light by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Developer RWE npower expects the project to produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of up to 39,700 homes and support up to 150 jobs during its construction phase.

However, Steve Dube, chairman of Grwp Blaengwen which has opposed the development, said the decision was "devastating".

Describing the effects of existing turbine noise on the population, he said: "People around here are suffering. They are on medication from their doctors. They can't get to sleep. Some of these people are farmers who are using dangerous machinery."

However, a letter released by the Department for Energy and Climate Change states the noise concerns were "insufficient grounds for rejecting the application" and there was a "compelling case" to authorise the development.

Mr Dube said: "The noise, and its effects on health is not deemed to be a planning issue.

"Our efforts to get politicians, planners and bureaucrats to consider the health effects are ignored.

It's clear they simply do not understand what they are dealing with.

"The supposed need for so-called renewable energy sources, however inefficient, negligible, destructive and unsustainable wind is proven to be, is deemed more important than anything else."

Fellow campaigner Claire Dugdale said: "We are absolutely devastated...

This is going to change our lives forever.

"It's not about being a nimby... It's about something that's going to completely throw your life up in the air."

Plaid Cymru Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards said: "Everybody acknowledges the need for renewable energy projects and the possible employment the scheme would bring. But it is clear in this case that local opinion and genuine concerns have been dismissed.

"That is why decisions in relation to the exploitation of Welsh natural resources should be made in Wales. I have significant worries regarding the proposed connection from the wind farm to the national grid.

"As I anticipated, proposals to develop additional infrastructure right through the Towy valley down to the Swansea North sub-station appear to have been discussed for the best part of two years. Why haven't those plans been submitted so that the full impact of this wind farm can be seen?" Montgomeryshire Conservative MP Glyn Davies said: "In all developments of these sort I just think the inspector dealing with them should always take very, very strong note of local opinion. In my view, strong local opinion should trump national policy.

"At the moment, national policy is trumping very significant local opinion. I just think that's very damaging for democracy.

"We have seen the public losing faith in the main political parties. They just feel they feel they aren't listened to - no more so than in some of these wind farm developments."

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: "Onshore wind has an important role to play as part of a balanced energy mix. This development will enhance our energy security, help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create up to 150 construction jobs."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 13, 2013
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