A BLAENAU businessman who has been given the go-ahead to erect the largest single wind turbine in Carmarthenshire says the move will safeguard his workforce.

Alan Davies, who runs D J Davies Fuel Ltd, had encountered strong opposition to his plan for a 77m turbine from residents who claimed it would create noise and shadowflicker as well as being a blight on the landscape.

Despite a 264-name petition objecting to the scheme, county planners were overwhelmingly in support of the proposal when it came before them yesterday afternoon.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Davies said 19 per cent of his 43-strong workforce were now employed in the bio mass sector. "Eight years ago none of my staff were," he added.

"Fossil fuel is being penalised and taxed – lower cost power is the key. I obviously welcome the decision of the planning committee as it will safeguard local jobs."

The result was a bitter blow for many residents – including members of the SLAP action group – twenty of whom watched the discussion from County Hall's public gallery.

Opposing the application, resident Michael Oldbury said several observers had not been consulted since the original turbine site had been moved, while issues of possible noise had not been addressed.

"This report just does not convey the effect of an overbearing, dominant, man-made industrial structure near our properties," he told councillors.

Fellow protestor Barry Bowler argued that a turbine "taller than the DVLA" would have a detrimental impact on our community.

"This is on a skyline and would be a prominent moving structure," he added.

But Mr Davies maintained that renewable energy was the fuel of the future and predicted the local authority would face a growing number of similar applications. "Our own electric power usage has increased by some 300 per cent over the past four years," he said.

"In the nineteenth century the age of steam ensured that the main use of power was steam combustion; in the twentieth century cars were deemed to be dangerous when they were first brought in.

"How things have moved on – we are now in the age of renewable energy."

Local councillor Sian Thomas said the main issue of objection was the proposed location. "TAN 8 states these turbines should not be build within 500 metres of houses and we as a committee have said they should not go up within 1.5km," she said.

"Thirty-one houses are within 400m of this turbine and in my view it's in the wrong location. This will be seen from a number of neighbouring wards."

Senior planning officer Graham Noakes accepted that the application had "polarised public opinion" but insisted that "any harm {to people or properties} was not severe enough to merit refusal of the application".