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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 February, 2004, 15:43 GMT
Wind turbines divide community
Wind turbine
The turbine company wants more information before going ahead
A plan to build wind turbines on hills near a west Wales village has divided opinion in the community.

One the world's biggest wind energy companies applied to Carmarthenshire Council on Tuesday for permission to erect a 40m test mast at Llanfynydd, near Carmarthen, to establish if the area is suitable.

About 80 people packed into the village pub on Monday for a meeting called by opponents.

But speakers were heckled and tempers occasionally flared as it became apparent there was also support for the development.

Things have not been very good for us as farmers - we should listen to both sides
Alan Hemmings

Cliff Freeman, who has championed wind power by establishing the Cothi Renewable Energy Group, told the meeting the UK needed more renewable energy.

"There is a different side to this argument that we need to think about," he said.

"They are not the perfect solution but they are better than what we have now."

Landowners would be able to boost their income by allowing turbines on their property, and some are already known to have spoken to the applicant, Gamesa Energy UK, a division of the Spanish company Gamesa Energia.

Alan Hemmings
Farmer Alan Hemmings said there should be a balanced debate

Farmer Alan Hemmings said after the meeting: "Things have not been very good for us as farmers but we don't know what the payments would be at the moment. We should listen to both sides."

Some of those opposed to wind turbines said they did not generate enough electricity to be a serious alternative to nuclear or fossil fuel.

Anti-turbine campaigner Tim Shaw told the meeting: "This is tokenism to what is a very serious problem.

"These are not a realistic solution to climate change and we've got to think a lot better than this.

"As you can see here tonight it's leading to divisions within communities."

Public meeting
About 80 people attended a public meeting in the village pub

Claims that turbines would devalue properties, cause noise and vibrations, as well as concerns over their visual impact were raised.

Representatives from Gamesa, which operates across Europe and North America, were not invited to the meeting, but they were due to address Llanfynydd Community Council on Tuesday night.

Gamesa spokesman Matt Partridge told BBC Wales News Online that until it had data from the test mast it was impossible to say the size of or how many turbines the company would apply for or whether it would proceed at all.

"It's very early days as we have not put up the test mast yet," he said.

"The government is acutely aware we need a lot more wind energy.

"Wind turbines generate a lot of money for Welsh farmers and for Welsh contractors while they are built."

He said Gamesa was committed to public consultation and would involve the whole community if it decided it was worth proceeding with the development.

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