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United Kingdom

Wales family crosses fingers for small wind plant approval

Local authority approval for three wind turbines could assure the livelihood of a young farming family in west Wales. Carmarthenshire County Council ignored their planning officer when he recommended that siting permission for the small wind plant be refused and instead approved the 3.9 MW wind cluster on Guto Jones's farm at Blaen Bowi near Capel Iwan. According to local newspaper the Tivy-Side Advertiser, Jones was prepared to sell his 250 acre (101 hectare) holding if the planners had rejected the application. The family, however, should wait to receive permission in writing before celebrating, says Keith Bellis from the project's developer, Windjen Power. He speaks from bitter experience. On the day that councillors in Denbighshire gave their resounding approval to another of Windjen's wind farm projects -- for 24 turbines at Tir Mostyn -- the application was "called in" by the Welsh Assembly for a final decision, stopping the project in its tracks. With the memory of this experience fresh in his mind, Bellis is advising the Jones family to proceed with caution. "So while we should be rejoicing we remain very guarded until we get the piece of paper," he comments of the Blaen Bowi project. Bellis believes the "unbelievable amount of local support" for the family owned wind cluster could be at least part of the reason for its success at the local planning level. More than 100 people turned up to show their approval of the scheme when the councillors on the planning committee visited the site. "It taught us that where the population of an area remains largely indigenous, there will be local support for projects," he says. "Everyone who objected was from outside the area." Wales is a popular venue for city people choosing to relocate to the countryside. He adds that the community is very much aware of the environmental imperative behind wind energy. "It is not only a matter of providing an important income to a young family, but in the area most livelihoods revolve around the local rural community. They are dealing with the environment 365 days a year; they can see that the weather has changed."

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