Proposed wind turbines at green energy hub 'could be seen by most of the county'
Three near-500-foot wind turbines, proposed as part of plans to develop a green energy scheme in north Pembrokeshire, could be seen by most of the county, opponents have said.
Trecwn Green Energy Hub, developed by Statkraft, Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, is the company’s first green hydrogen project to be announced in the UK.
In plans announced late last year, it is hoped that part of the site at Trecwn Valley will soon be leading the way in making environmentally-friendly fuel for buses, HGVs, trains, and industry in Wales.
Trecwn Green Energy Hub would generate approximately three tonnes of green hydrogen a day, powered by three industrial wind turbines and a solar array.
The former Royal Navy Armaments Depot (RNAD) site at Trececwn comprises of 1,100 acres, with 56 underground tunnels and a collection of former MoD buildings.
Local concern, however, have been raised at a series of public information events.
On March 29, Statkraft said it has made changes to its initial proposal “following feedback from local communities, stakeholders, and the wider public,” adding an Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report has now been submitted to Planning and Environment Wales.
It says the proposed development would comprise three turbines with a height to blade tip of up to 149.9m, with a combined generating capacity of around 15MW.
The solar panel generating capacity is also expected to be around 15MW.
Statkraft said, as a result of local feedback, the project team is now considering two options for the site and has made changes to the project boundary for the solar farm.
The first option for the Trecwn Green Energy Hub, which was presented during the early engagement, was chosen for accessibility reasons, in particular the distribution of hydrogen for transport and industrial use.
The second option, which has been included in the scoping report, moves components further away from residential properties.
The final preferred location will be informed by the results of the Environmental Impact Assessment.
The area being considered for solar panels has been reduced, moving it further away from several neighbouring properties.
The 42 hectares being considered as part of Statkraft’s initial plans will be further reduced to roughly 28 hectares in the final proposals, and the layout will avoid high quality agricultural land, in line with the priorities of the Welsh Government.
It is hoped that green hydrogen generated at Trecwn will be used to power trains running on railway lines west of Swansea.
It could also power Pembrokeshire Council’s fleet of refuse collection vehicles and local buses, or local factories and businesses.
Local community group Say No to Statkraft in Trecwn reacted to the release of the scoping report, saying the three proposed 149.9m (492ft) wind turbines would be sited on a ridge some 200m above sea-level, giving them a total height of 349.9m (1,148ft).
“These would be far higher at blade tip than the nearest natural feature of Mynydd Dinas, which is 258.1m (847ft). They will also be lit with red aviation lights.”
The group says Statkraft’s Zone of Theoretical Visibility diagrams show “they would be clearly seen by a large part of Pembrokeshire, as well as outside the county”.
It added: “It’s quite staggering to see just how visible they would be, and not just from high ground. Given their very close proximity to the internationally highly prized Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, as well as many Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), it beggars belief that Statkraft could have picked this location in the first place, especially when the closest market for their product, hydrogen, is most likely at Milford Haven.”
The group made reference to a recently-rejected scheme in the south of the county.
“In January the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, rejected plans for three 126m (413ft) turbines at Rhoscrowther in South Pembrokeshire. This site is close to highly-industrialised Milford Haven, and these smaller turbines, at sea-level, would have been barely visible outside of the area.
“It was, though, an excellent win for the wonderful Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, as they succeeded in protecting a nearby conservation area at Angle.
“Surely, then, this Welsh Government decision sets a precedent?
“The Rhoscrowther turbines would be nowhere near as visually intrusive, as these planned for a ridge above Fishguard.”
The group says there is “little chance of Statkraft abandoning plans for the three turbines,” or the solar array as “their selling point for the hydrogen plant is that it would largely be powered by wind and solar”.
It also says the proposal would lead to very few local jobs being created, finishing by saying: “Lots of pain for North Pembrokeshire and beyond, and very little gain.
“It would make far more sense to move this scheme closer to the Milford Haven area, rather than have 15-plus HGV movements a day transporting the hydrogen to where it may be needed, and building gigantic industrial turbines in such a beautiful landscape.”
A spokesperson for Statkraft responded: “Statkraft’s early engagement on Trecwn Green Energy Hub has allowed us to make significant changes to our emerging proposals, in direct response to the feedback received from local community These include looking at an alternative site for the electrolyser, and changing the proposed boundary of the solar farm.”
The spokesperson added: “The Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV) map illustrates the theoretical visibility of the wind farm, based on what is referred to as a ‘bare earth’ model. It does not account for screening effects provided by woodland, vegetation, and buildings, which reduce the extent of visibility.
“We will be producing visualisations to provide an understanding of the potential visual impact of the project, to be presented as part of our consultation activities.
Mícheál Ó Broin, Senior Project Manager at Statkraft, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who has engaged with us, and shared their thoughts and ideas for Trecwn Green Energy Hub.
"It’s really encouraging that over 80 per cent of people who returned the feedback form were either strongly supportive or supportive, and to see the project recognised in the Senedd, which I think demonstrates a real appetite for green energy production in across Pembrokeshire and in Wales more widely.
“Where possible, we’ve responded to some of the key issues raised by making changes to the proposals, which are reflected in the scoping report.
“The project team will be busy over the next few months, carrying out studies and surveys and reflecting the results in the detailed proposal, which we look forward to sharing later this year.”