QUESTIONS have been asked around why so many planning applications to build wind turbines in Blaenau Gwent have been made recently.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday, November 9, councillors were updated on several planning applications for wind farms currently being processed by Welsh Government planning inspectors at PEDW (Planning and Environment Decisions Wales).
Councillors were told that that a decision on proposals by Pennant Walters Ltd for Mynydd Cefn-y-Carn is expected after January 9.
Pennant Walters Ltd wants to build eight wind turbines with a maximum blade height of 180 metres at Mynydd Carn y Cefn between Abertillery and Cwm.
In August, Cenin Renewables lodged plans with PEDW to build five wind turbines with a maximum blade tip height of 180 metres, as well as an on-site sub-station underground cables and associated works at Manmoel Common.
Work on this DNS application has been paused until December 29.
Planning officer Helen Hinton said: “Manmoel windfarm DNS application had been paused to allow the developers to address the concerns of statutory. consultees including the council.”
Ms Hinton said that another DNS application for eight wind turbines up to 180 metres high for Mynydd Llanhilleth, has recently been submitted.
Ms Hinton said: “We are aware that it been submitted but we are waiting for a validation date from PEDW.”
Another DNS proposal, by RWE Renewables UK for six wind turbines with a wing tip up to 200 metres high at land between Abertillery and Abersychan is “very close behind” and is at the pre-application consultation stage explained Ms Hinton.
Ms Hinton added that a further proposal to build turbines on Mynydd Bedwellte, which separates the Rhymney and Sirhowy Valleys, is also expected soon but: “nothing firm had been received yet.”
Cllr David Wilkshire said he was “concerned” at the number of applications for wind turbines in the county borough and asked for the total number of turbines that would be built if they all received the go ahead.
Ms Hinton said: “The Welsh Government have come up with areas that they feel can accommodate wind turbines in the landscape.
“It’s 36 in DNS schemes and that doesn’t include single turbine schemes and we have a number on the industrial estates.
“A lot of commercial units are looking to supplement their energy generation by putting up single turbines.”
Cllr Lee Parsons asked whether Blaenau Gwent had been: “targeted”, or if it was a “coincidence” that so many applications were being readied at the same time.
Committee chairwoman, Cllr Lisa Winnett said: “We’re having this influx because the Welsh Government have made these designated areas.”
Cllr Wilkshire said: “We don’t have a seaside so we can’t have onshore, so it has to be the mountaintops.
The Blaenau Gwent valleys are narrow, explained Cllr Wilkshire.
Cllr Wilkshire said: “If you shove them on top, it will be overbearing – there’s plenty of areas in the (Brecon) Beacons.”
Ms Hinton explained that Bannau Brycheniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park is “globally recognised as an outstanding landscape” and is protected from some types of energy producing schemes.
She added that planning applications further back in the process would have to “take into account” the cumulative impact of the earlier developments in their proposals.
Cllr George Humphreys advised councillors to attend consultation meetings with developers for a better understanding of the plans.
Cllr Humphreys said: “Listen to what these people have say, go to these consultation events as they are an eye-opener.”
Proposals classified as DNS mean Blaenau Gwent Council is a consultee rather than decision-maker, with the Welsh Government deciding the application.
Inspectors will look at all the information provided in the DNS application and eventually give advice to the Welsh Government on what decision to make.
A Welsh Government minister will then announce the decision.