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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 08:51 GMT
Wind farm signals energy expansion
Parc Cynog wind farm in Carmarthenshire
Parc Cynog wind farm opened this week in west Wales
The government has said its decision to give the go-ahead for the biggest wind farm in the UK in west Wales, paves the way for a major growth in renewable energy in Britain.

But opponents of the scheme at Cefn Croes in Ceredigion, to site 39 turbines on a remote hillside insist the project will destroy a unique landscape.

Energy Minister Brian Wilson announced the major expansion in wind energy in the UK during a visit to Wales on Monday when he unveiled a smaller project in Carmarthenshire.

Energy Minister Brian Wilson
Energy Minister Brian Wilson: Difficult decision

The government's position is that the decision will kick start a flagging wind energy industry which has been stalled in Wales by a series of planning permission disputes.

The wind farm planned for Cefn Croes will supply one per cent of Welsh domestic electricity needs.

But just as important for ministers is the desire to send out positive signals to the renewable energy sector on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment groups are divided over the scheme.

Friends of the Earth supports the government's initiative whereas the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) said the project was as destructive to the landscape of Wales as the drowning of valleys for reservoirs.

Wales is blessed with some of the finest energy rich natural sources in the world

Brian Wilson, Energy Minister
With 40% of all the UK's wind turbines erected in Wales, the group said the landscape had been sacrificed enough.

The energy minister decided against pulling in the Cefn Croes project for a planning inquiry.

"No matter what way the decision went it was going to upset somebody," he said performing the opening of the smaller Parc Cynog near Pendine in Carmarthenshire, on Monday.

He said the 35m development at Cefn Croes - which will begin next summer and produce enough energy for 4,000 homes - will be the single largest wind farm in the UK.

It will result in savings of 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

"Wales is blessed with some of the finest energy rich natural sources in the world," Mr Wilson added.

"I am confident that government, investors and the local community will work together to ensure that these assets are utilised to help reduce the effects of climate change," he said.

Geraint Jewson from West Coast Energy which is backing the project believed that every form of energy conservation had a cost.

"The Cefn Croes project will make a positive contributions towards combating global warming," he said.

"Its a green, environmentally friendly form of energy generation."

Pipeline extension

Later on Monday Mr Wilson officially opened a 12m gas pipeline scheme at Bancyfelin near Carmarthen, which will enhance energy supplies across west Wales.

The west Wales gas pipeline, built by Transco, will connect up with the existing bulk supply system at Pontyates.

The project work has included tackling obstacles thrown up by nature, such as sending a 600mm pipe deep under the River Tywi to avoid damaging the local environment.

BBC Wales's Roger Pinney reports
"This is a decision the government says will put Wales at the forefront of the renewable energy industry"
See also:

10 Jul 01 | Wales
Wind farm plans scrapped
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