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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 16:50 GMT
Public inquiry calls for wind farm
The proposed wind turbines
An artists' impression of the Scarweather turbines
Controversial plans to erect a 30-turbine wind farm close to a popular coastal resort have been dealt a blow after the local council recommended a public inquiry into the proposals.

The decision on whether the 120m Scarweather Sands project in Porthcawl should go ahead lies with the Welsh Assembly but Bridgend council were invited to give its opinion on the scheme.

Planning officials had recommended that the council should signal its approval of the United Utilities scheme to the assembly at a meeting held on Wednesday.

But 35 councillors voted in favour of the scheme going to a public inquiry with 10 against.

Local campaigners against to the project held a demonstration before the meeting outside the council building as a sign of their opposition.

They also handed in an 8,000-signature petition supporting their objections to the proposals.

John Chislett from the action group SOS Porthcawl, which has been set up to oppose the plans, said that town's tourist trade would suffer.

This will change it to look something like an industrialised river estuary
John Chislett - SOS Porthcawl

"People come here to get away from towns and cities and it does not seem sensible to build what is effectively, a power station just off the beach," he said.

"There are also other concerns that there hasn't been sufficient investigation into a lot of considerations.

"Like the effect on the surf formation and the damage that it could do to the beach."

Mr Chislett said that people were concerned the wind farm would be visible from beauty spots throughout the region.

"It is a beautifully remote and picturesque area in what is in a predominately urban landscape - this will change it to look something like an industrialised river estuary.

"We believe that the siting is not appropriate and that the same objective could be achieved by moving the thing further offshore," he added.

It could bring new people to Porthcawl who maybe haven't been for years and years
Julian Rosser, Friends of the Earth Cymru

But Friends of the Earth Cymru have given their support to the plans and they believe the area would become more attractive to tourists if the scheme went ahead.

"We are broadly supportive on this development and are very supportive of off-shore wind energy generation in general," said Julian Rosser, spokesman for the environmental group.

Elizabeth Warwick, spokeswoman for United Utilities said that the company's plans were in line with the Government's aim to increase cleaner energy.

"Renewable energy schemes are not only good for the global environment but will also help to meet our future energy needs," she said.

"We are proposing to build a wind farm from four to six miles out at sea that will supply electricity to 82,000 homes without polluting the atmosphere.

"Our studies by expert consultants show that there is no evidence to support the fears that have been expressed.

"We hope that local people will judge our proposal on the evidence - and not on claims and speculation that have little or no basis in fact," she added.

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

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

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




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