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EDITIONS
 Friday, 24 January, 2003, 13:06 GMT
Offshore wind farm up for debate
Wind farm
An artists' impression of the Scarweather turbines
Communities in south Wales have been urged to voice their concerns over controversial plans for a 30-turbine wind farm off the coast of Porthcawl.

The 120m Scarweather Sands project which would provide electricity for 82,000 homes has been masterminded by energy-company United Utilities

Details of the plans were handed in on Friday to the Welsh Assembly which has 10 weeks to decide what action to take.

At the moment there is nothing as unspoilt as Rest Bay

Simon Tucker, protester

Pressure group, SOS Porthcawl, has called for a public inquiry into the plan, which they claim, will be visually-intrusive, noisy and deter tourists from the area.

The public have until 7 March to give their views to the assembly which will decide the next step on 4 April.

The assembly could decide on one of three options - either to hold a public inquiry, a hearing or they could decide to take more written representations.

Protester Simon Tucker said: "We are going to have 30 London Eyes, without the chairs, in the sea.

"Can you see these being built in the English Riviera?

"Cornwall and Devon are going to have all of our tourists.

"At the moment there is nothing as unspoilt as Rest Bay," added the ex-professional surfer.

Mr Tucker, from Porthcawl, said the group was concerned the wind farm would be visible from beauty spots throughout the region.

SOS Porthcawl will submit a 7,000-signature petition to the assembly soon.

New jobs

United Utilities have said the project - which could create up to 130 jobs - could see turbines built in Port Talbot and transported to the sea.

Elizabeth Warwick, from United Utilities, said: "The turbines would be painted grey to blend in with the seascape and there would be some navigation lights on the corners, they would also be well-spaced out."

A visitors' centre about renewable energy could be sited nearby, she added.

If United Utilities' plan is turned down, the company could consider an appeal at the High Court for a judicial review of the decision.

Plans to site the farm in different parts of the Welsh coast were looked at, say the company.

The plan won't affect noise levels, it won't affect the surf and it won't affect the bacterial quality of the sea which gave Rest Bay a Blue Flag

Elizabeth Warwick, United Utilities

But problems with marine areas, shipping routes, other proposals for wind farms, or no suitable electrical connection to the National Grid ensured the plan was earmarked for Scarweather Sands.

The company has held exhibitions in the area and carried out its own public consultation exercise.

Ms Warwick said: "The plan won't affect noise levels, it won't affect the surf and it won't affect the bacterial quality of the sea which gave Rest Bay a Blue Flag (for clean beaches).

"The only impact is the visual impact and that is very subjective."

Objections and representations can be made to a specialist unit handling the plan for the assembly.

The address for comments is National Assembly for Wales, c/o TWA Unit, Third Floor, Zone 311, Great Minster House, 76, Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DR.

The e-mail address is mike.summerskill@odpm.gfi.gov.uk


More from south west Wales

More from south east Wales
See also:

25 Oct 02 | Wales
21 Jan 03 | Scotland
21 Jan 03 | England
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