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Byline: By ABBY ALFORD South Wales Echo

'shell shocked', 'Gutted', 'Devastated'. Those were just some of the views of anti wind farm campaigners left reeling by the National Assembly's decision to back a plan for 30 turbines to be built in the sea off Porthcawl.

They hoped assembly members would endorse Tory AM Alun Cairns' motion for a final debate and vote on the issue, to be held later this year.

But yesterday afternoon 34 AMs voted against the motion, effectively endorsing the decision the assembly's planning committee made this summer, which was that the pounds 120m United Utilities scheme should go ahead.

'I'm gutted, absolutely devastated,' said Chris Smart, leader of the ruling Conservative group on Porthcawl Town Council, which believes the wind farm will dominate the landscape and destroy the lucrative tourism industry.

'We're shell shocked. This is a disastrous blow for democracy,' added Chris Pugh- Bevan, spokesman for SOS Porthcawl, a residents' group which has fought against the plan for two years.

Mr Cairns said: 'I fail to understand how any AM could vote against a motion calling for further debate.'

But Bridgend's Labour AM Carwyn Jones, who supported the call for further debate, said he was not surprised.

He said Mr Cairns' comments that yesterday's vote had been deliberately scheduled in the same week as the Tory conference in Bourne- mouth as part of a Labour dirty tricks campaign, encouraged some AMs to vote against the motion.

'Many members would have been swayed by the fact they already have or will have wind farms in their own constituencies anyway,' said Mr Jones.

'But they were pushed over the top by Alun Cairn's comments, which were designed to alienate, not to encourage cross-party consensus.'

Despite the bitterness, those who oppose the plan have vowed to carry on and will be looking into calling for a judicial review.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 6, 2004
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