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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Biggest windfarm given go-ahead
Wind farm
The scheme could provide half of Ceredigion's electricity
The UK Government has given the go-ahead for one of Europe's biggest windfarms to be built in mid Wales.

The 35m Cefn Croes development near Aberystwyth - the biggest in the UK - will have 39 turbines, supplying enough electricity for 40,000 homes.


I have not used my discretionary power to call a public inquiry because all parties have already taken the opportunity to inform me of their concerns

Energy Minister Brian Wilson

The Westminster Energy Minister, Brian Wilson, announced his decision in a Commons written answer on Thursday.

But environmental campaigners are concerned about the visual impact of the project in its rural setting.

The Cefn Croes proposal by the Renewable Development Company (RDC) takes windfarm development into a new phase.

Its backers say the windfarm will supply 50% of Ceredigion's electricity needs, or 1% of the needs of Wales.

RDC director Geraint Jewson said the company was pleased with the decision after six years work on the project so far.

RDC logo
The company is involved in a number of schemes

"We've got a project that will be good for Wales in terms of putting money into the economy, and towards meeting Kyoto targets," he said, referring to the international agreement on action to reduce global warming.

However, Martin Wright, chairman of the Cefn Croes campaign against the windfarm, claimed the scheme was unnecessary.

"There's plenty of open space out at sea with is a far more sensible place to build projects of this size," he said.

"It's simply inappropriate to put this sort of industrial development in a wide open area.

"If it were anything other than a windfarm we wouldn't be considering it."

Inquiry demands

The sheer scale of the proposed development meant the decision was left to the UK Department of Trade and Industry rather than Ceredigion County Council or the Welsh Assembly.

In December, Mr Wilson said he was minded to give the scheme the go-ahead.

Confirming the decision, he said he had all the information he needed after extensive consultation.

Energy Minister Brian Wilson:
Energy Minister Brian Wilson gave approval

"I have not used my discretionary power to call a public inquiry because all parties have already taken the opportunity to inform me of their concerns," he wrote.

"I am confident that I have all the necessary information on which to take my decision on the application."

The minister noted that Ceredigion County Council did not object to the scheme, and that the company had agreed to pay the costs of a land management scheme and decommissioning.

Calls for a public inquiry had come from six of Wales's leading conservation groups, including the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales and the National Trust.

But the project has divided environmental campaigners, some welcoming windfarms as a clean alternative to fossil fuels while others claim they are blots on the landscape.

Greener energy

However, the UK Government has pledged to produce 10% of Britain's electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

A Cabinet Office report recently recommended that this target should be raised to 20% by the year 2020.

Earlier this year, an assembly report concluded that Wales needed a dramatic increase in the number of windfarms to meet the new targets.

Major windfarm projects in Wales are already the source of controversy.

Another is proposed for the Cambrian Mountains in mid Wales by a group called Camddwr.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Energy Minister Brian Wilson
"If we are going to meet emission targets we need developments of the scale"
BBC Wales's Roger Pinney
"In rural Wales, there is nothing like a windfarm to divide opinion"
See also:

10 Dec 01 | Wales
10 Jul 01 | Wales
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