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Green light given for turbines

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Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 10.04.13PERMISSION was granted for the erection of two 100m wind turbines on land near Rhydcymerau, Llandeilo on Tuesday (Feb 16) in spite of strong local opposition.

Following a site visit, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Planning Committee voted 8-4 in favour of following officer recommendations and approving the application.

A number of questions had been raised about the development, including the visual impact on the Teifi Valley Special Landscape Area (SLA) and the increase of traffic and abnormal loads in the area during the construction phase.

Over 200 letters were received by the council – the majority from local residents – objecting to the turbines. In the planning officer’s report it was noted that, although the development was recommended for approval, the Landscape Officer advised that ‘the location and scale of the turbine model, and the predicted magnitude of effect in relation to the sensitivity of the receiving landscape, are such that the significance of impacts to landscape character, or areas designated for their landscape value, are considered to represent a significant challenge to the relevant policy objectives of the Carmarthenshire County Council LDP [December 2014].

‘Impacts are of a significance to constitute a justifiable reason for refusal on the grounds of impacts to landscape character. The Lands cape Officer considers that the proposal will have an unacceptable and adverse impact upon landscape character, setting and appearance of the area and surrounding landscape through scale, size and siting.

However, the officers’ recommendation was that the benefits in renewable energy production would ‘outweigh the only unacceptable impact identified in the appraisal i.e. the impact upon the character of the Teifi valley and the locally designated Teifi valley SLA.’

Introducing the application, Development ManagerJulian Edwards said that the swept path analysis showed that transporting the turbine blades to the site ‘will involve overrun onto third party land’ – which is owned by CCC, and that a legal advice notice had been served to the council as the interested party.

Mr Edwards acknowledged the visual impact on the SLA, but pointed out that the nearest dwelling not involved with the development was 790m away, and there was not enough visual impact on nearby dwellings to constitute reason for refusal.

Mr Edwards added that the site – a mixture of improved and semi-improved pasture and marsh – was not thought to pose a barrier to the development, according to the council’s ecological officer and Natural Resources Wales.

The increased traffic, an estimated 2,500 journeys during the eight month construction period half of which would be carrying stone and concrete for the bases, was acceptable on the basis that the construction period was short compared to the 25-year predicted lifespan of the site.

Mr Edwards said that the proposal was recommended for approval on the basis that the energy produced, which was potentially enough to power 2,500 homes, outweighed the visual impact.

Speaking against the development, local resident Mr Marinege said that locals were only opposed to ‘very large turbines’ and suggested that the elevated location of the site would make the turbines more prominent on the skyline. He claimed that smaller turbines had been rejected for this reason in similar locations.

Other reasons Mr Marinege gave for objecting included uncertainty over the route for the grid connection, damage to habitat created by the new track, and increased surface water runoff from the concrete bases. He closed by saying that the turbines would be close to the height of the Meridian Towers in Swansea – Wales’ tallest building, and claiming that the application ‘trashes’ planning policy.

Local business owner Sam Cooke also spoke out against the development, claiming that she would be unable to use a main road for her horse-riding treks because the distance from the turbine was less than the minimum permitted.

“The question is; our investment we brought to Wales – will that be collateral damage?” she asked.

“We use local businesses, but will not be able to do so to the same level if this is passed.”

Project Manager Justin Reid said that the company had worked closely with council officers. He pointed out that the turbines were among the shortest it was possible to get for commercial projects.

Responding to Ms Cooke, Mr Reid said that if the safety of horse riders was put at risk by turbines this would have been incorporated in turbine planning policy, and claimed that no rider had ever been injured as a result of turbines.

Responding to claims that these two turbines would be the basis for a much larger development, Mr Reid said that there was only enough demand in the local grid to support two turbines.

Local County Councillor Ieuan Davies suggested that the community benefits from the turbines would go to Llansawel, 6 miles further away from the site than Llanybydder.

Councillor Peter Cooper said that if the turbines were closer to dwellings that would be ‘something we could look at.’ However, he added that he believed solar panel sites and turbines were ‘the way forward in the future’ and proposed that the officers’ recommendation be accepted.

However, Councillor Joy Williams questioned the impact on the Teifi Valley SLA: “I don’t think it is acceptable to do this to the local countryside,” she added.

Councillor Kevin Madge pointed out that there were 16 140m turbines in the Amman Valley, and he could see five of them from his house at any time: “The oil issue is a problem for the future – we’ve all got to take the pain as far as this is concerned,” he added.

Cllr Madge suggested that a condition for allowing the plans should be that Llanybydder received some of the community benefits, but Chair of the Planning Committee Councillor Alun Lenny pointed out that this was not a material planning concern.

Cllr Ken Howell pointed out that two community councils and 200 local residents had opposed the plans: “If we ignore the views of the community councils, we are belittling them,” he added.

Cllr Howell proposed that any decision should be deferred until the committee received Supplementary Planning Guidelines for wind turbines, and the Landscape Capacity Study, which he said were overdue by around five months. This was seconded by Councillor Winston Lemon.

Mr Edwards said that the Supplementary Planning Guidance ‘doesn’t rewrite’ the policy, although he granted that it might make certain areas clearer.

He also recommended that a ‘dry run’ with a turbine blade – designed to prove that getting the turbines to the site was feasible – should be part of the overall traffic plan, rather than a condition of approval.

Cllr Howell’s amendment was defeated, and the committee voted to approve the plans.

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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Business

Carmarthenshire cheese maker secures Co-op listing

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Caws Cenarth award

A CHEESEMAKER from Carmarthenshire has secured its first listing with the Co-op as part of the retailer’s continued focus on local and community sourcing.

Family-owned Caws Cenarth, which has cheese making in the family dating back to 1903, will now see two of its cheeses listed in more than 20 Co-op stores across the region.

Made on farm in Glyneithinog, Caws Cenarth will supply Co-op with its Organic Caerffili – which has a light and lemony taste with hints of sea salt – and, one of its best known cheeses the Organic Perl Las Mini – which is described as a blue cheese, golden in colour, with a creamy, gently salty taste that grows stronger with maturity.

Carwyn Adams, whose parents rekindled the family tradition for cheese making in 1987 with the creation of Caws Cenarth, said: “We are absolutely thrilled. I shop in our local Co-op and regularly thought how nice it would be to see our cheese on the shelf and, now that is to become a reality. Working with Co-op will support our business development, and raise awareness of our cheeses, not only across the region, but also further afield as visitors to the area often look for local produce to take back home with them as gifts or to remind them of their stay in the area.”

Jo Wadsworth, Co-op’s Community Buying Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Caws Cenarth onto our shelves. We know that our Members and customers value the quality and provenance of locally produced food and drink and, here at the Co-op we are focussed on supporting local suppliers as part of our commitment to creating value and making a difference in our local communities.”

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Education

Carmarthenshire Council offers career opportunities through new Care Academi 

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Cllr Jane Tremlett, Cabinet Member for Social Care

CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has launched a new Care Academi which offers exciting opportunities to those looking for a career in social work or social care.

Open to all ages, the Academi will provide training, support and guidance to successful applicants, enabling them to earn while they learn and choose a career path that suits them best.

With a blend of on-the-job training and education, there are various opportunities to explore the variety of social care and social work roles on offer.

All applicants must have a minimum of two GCSEs (grade A* – D) or equivalent in English, Welsh or Maths.

Cllr Jane Tremlett, Cabinet Member for Social Care said: “Our new Care Academi offers fantastic opportunities to those looking for a career in social work or care.

“Successful applicants could achieve a degree in social work or a level five management qualification, but there are also opportunities throughout the programme to find an alternative role that suits you best if completing a degree isn’t for you.

“If you are motivated, have a positive attitude and are looking for the first exciting step in a new career then we want to hear from you and welcome your application.”

For more information or to apply please visit www.Carmarthenshire.gov.wales/careacademi 

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