A WIND FARM for Mynydd y Gwair has been approved
RWE's plan for 16 127 metre high turbines on land nine miles north of the city was given the go-ahead by 27 votes to 24 with two abstentions last night following a vociferous debate in the Civic Centre.
More than 60 campaigners packed the public gallery for the debate by a Swansea Council committee which heard views both for and against the controversial scheme.
One of those who spoke was Glyn Morgan, chairman of Save Our Common Mountain Environment, who claimed 87 per cent of people in the local community were opposed to the scheme.
"It would be sacrilege to develop on Mynydd y Gwair," he said.
He stated that red kites had successfully moved into the area and there were two breeding nests, and that the land had grazing rights with 120 commoners with flocks of sheep and also cattle.
The land was also popular with walkers, horse riders and people flying model aircraft, he added.
He urged the council to "make the people proud to be citizens of Swansea and oppose the development".
Joining him in opposition was Gower councillor Richard Lewis who said, to much applause from the public gallery: "I think it's atrocious and we should scrap them all (turbines)."
He said any money they brought to Wales was through subsidies from the Government, whereas tourism in the Gower brought in £120 million directly.
Councillor Mary Jones stressed that in Gower people were not allowed to build on open land.
"Here we are putting these monstrosities on top of a mountain with a sub station there as well," she said.
"It's going to have an overbearing impact.
"I can't support this application - I am thinking of our younger generation.
"We have to think of the visual impact."
Penllergaer councillor Wendy Fitzgerald said: "It's a con and scam and we are all being well and truly duped."
But Llansamlet councillor Uta Clay said: "The objections come largely from the privileged few.
"They may be in favour of renewable energy as long as it's not in my back yard.
"It's the younger generation who will have to live with the consequences of the mess that my generation has left."
But council leader David Phillips said: "It's not an argument between rich and poor."
And he talked about objections to nuclear power and its afterlife.
"Are we seriously proposing to turn off the lights? Wind power is not the solution but is part of it."
Gwenllian Elias - project manager for RWE, said: "This revised application would make sound planning sense.
"The windfarm has been reduced to 16 wind turbines."
She said organisations such as the Environment Agency had not objected to the scheme which she said would create 100 jobs.
Andrew Hore, chief operations officer for the Ospreys rugby region, also spoke in favour of the development.
He said it would have been very easy to have a fast food chain on their shirts, but they felt RWE was the right message for the community.
"We feel the young people need role models and need employment. It's no use walking around the hills if there is acid rain falling down on you."
The company's previous application for 19 turbines was eventually turned down after going to appeal.
RWE removed three turbines from its plans following concerns about the peat bog and relocated two others.
It said the new scheme had the potential to produce enough electricity to cover the yearly average consumption of around 24,700 homes.
It previously said, according to the study it carried out, the building of the wind farm could also bring in up to £8.5 million to South and West Wales, on top of an annual fund of up to £240,000 to be spent on the community.
Much of the land is owned by the Somerset Trust, and lies within one of seven areas in Wales earmarked as suitable for a concentration of onshore wind farms.