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AM's wind farms referendum calls

Calls have been made for a public referendum to decide the fate of wind farm proposals for the upper Afan Valley.

Residents fear the two planned developments would blight the landscape and cause other problems.

Now Aberavon AM and valley resident Brian Gibbons wants people power to rule the day.

There are two applications for wind farms in the upper Afan Valley, one from Gamesa and one from Eco2.

Dr Gibbons said: "Both would cause significant intrusive visual impact to the communities of the Upper Afan Valley.

"The residents also have many other concerns including impact on wildlife, increase in traffic during the lifetime of the projects and safety concerns about the turbines themselves, given the proximity of them to some people's homes.

"I have received correspondence from Gamesa claiming the feedback they received in their consultation exercises was that residents were largely in favour of their proposals and on having wind farms in the upper Afan Valley, generally.

"The figures, though, are based on a sample of less than one per cent of the local population, which is why I doubt they are a true reflection of public opinion of the people."

Dr Gibbons also challenged Gamesa's assertion that 48 per cent of people in the area supported its proposals.

"I find it extremely surprising this is the case as the many people I have spoken to on the subject are against the development of wind farms in the upper valley," he added.

"My experience is that this is not the case. In fact, I would say the vast majority of residents were opposed to these developments."

As a result, he said, he wants developers to organise a referendum and commit themselves to the outcome.

"This, I feel, is the only way for the true scale of public opinion about wind farms in the area to be judged fairly," he added. "The proposals place wind farms far too close to our communities, which is why I have consistently opposed these developments."

Newspaper: The Courier
Date: 22/05/07