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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 15:47 GMT
Off-shore windfarm inquiry opens
Artists impression of the turbines at Scarweather Sands
There are plans for 30 turbines off Scarweather Sands
The fate of a plan to build a 30-turbine off-shore windfarm will be decided by a Welsh assembly public inquiry which opened on Tuesday.

Energy firm United Utilities wants to build the 400-feet-high turbines at Scarweather Sands off Porthcawl in a 120m project to generate enough electricity for 82,000 homes.

The inquiry was told the turbines would meet 10 per cent of the Welsh Assembly Government's renewable energy target.

Local opponents fear the turbines will blight the coastline and ruin the area's tourist trade.

The inquiry is expected to last around a month, and the inspector from the assembly is expected to hear evidence for and against the proposals.

It follows strong local opposition, including an 8,000-signature petition.

But the scheme has the backing of environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth Cymru, who believe that it could in fact become a tourist attraction.

Neil Crumpton, energy spokesperson for the pressure group said: "We support the proposed windfarm because it would generate clean and climate friendly electricity for nearly 50,000 people around Swansea Bay.

"We believe that the claims about the destruction of the tourist industry around Porthcawl are unfounded.

"Indeed, we think that the windfarm could indeed bring tourism benefits to the Bay such as recreational fishing.

"We also think it unfortunate that some public opposition to the scheme has been generated by people who aim to cause controversy and obscure the debate with the usual misinformation about wind energy technology," he added.

Anger

However, it is claimed that people living in Porthcawl remain unconvinced by the plans and are furious that it has come to a public inquiry to resolve the matter.

The Royal Yacht Association, local golf clubs and surfers will all be giving evidence against the scheme.

Simon Tucker, who is a representative of SOS Porthcawl and the Surfing Academy said: "If this project goes ahead, people will be really angry.

"We are fiercely guarding our environment - the environment that it seems they are coming to try and destroy.

"I just can't believe it has come to a public inquiry, the plans should have been thrown out when they first came to light," he added.




SEE ALSO:
Tourism row over windfarm
26 Aug 03  |  South East Wales
Windfarm faces assembly inquiry
26 Mar 03  |  Wales


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