a track on a mountain
A view of Mynydd Llanhilleth Common looking south east. Picture: Torfaen County Borough Council planning file Credit: LDRS

BLAENAU GWENT planners believe that a wind turbine development earmarked for a hillside between Abertillery and Pontypool would “be negative.”

At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning committee on Thursday, February 8 councillors will receive the Local Impact Report (LIR) on the planning application by Pennant Walters to build eight wind turbines on Mynydd Llanhilleth.

The application is mostly across the border in Torfaen County Borough – but the western part of the site is close to the village of Llanhilleth in Blaenau Gwent.

The application for the turbines which would be 180 metres height is being dealt with by Welsh Government planning inspectors at Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW).

This means that Blaenau Gwent along with Torfaen are consultees rather than decision makers for the proposal.

A Welsh Government minister will eventually announce the decision based on a recommendation by planning inspectors.

Pennant Walters say that wind farm will generate 34 MW of electricity which is enough to power 21.500 homes for a year.

The LIR gives the authority a chance to outline the potential effect of the development on the area and also put forward the planning policies that the inspector should consider when evaluating the project.

The report said: “The council has reviewed the submitted information relating to the current proposal and anticipates that the impacts of the development as a whole would be negative.”

Blaenau Gwent planners raised concerns on several points including biodiversity, lack of information on mineral safeguarding and the “cumulative impact” the wind farm could have on the landscape – especially with several wind farm proposals also in the pipeline for the county borough.

They also believed that the proposal would have a negative impact on recreation, grazing rights, nature conservation and the “openness” of the area.

The report said: “Whilst it is acknowledged and appreciated that the principle of onshore windfarm has been positively established, proposals must seek to minimise the landscape and visual impact, particularly those in close proximity to homes.

“As such it is anticipated that overall, the cumulative impact on the landscape and visual amenity of the Blaenau Gwent area would be negative.”

However, planners could also see the economic benefits of the scheme.

The report said: “The proposed development has the potential to create job opportunities and generate financial benefits at a local, regional and national level throughout the life cycle of the project.”

It has also been revealed that processing the application is currently suspended.

On January 26, Pennant Walters agent Edward Purnell of WSP UK Limited wrote to PEDW asking for a six weeks pause.

Mr Purnell said: “PEDW will be aware that certain representations have questioned the acceptability of the wind farm and individual turbines. The applicant is in discussion with organisations and is confident that matters can be resolved. The suspension would be used to prepare further information which it considers would be beneficial to the inspector when considering the application.”

Rhys Rigby of PEDW has responded to the plea and said that the application will be suspended until February 19.