COUNTY planners have approved plans for two wind turbines on Sylen Mountain, west of Llannon, after agreeing they would not be more of an eyesore than two telecommunication masts already situated on top of the historic hill.
This morning's decision by Carmarthenshire County Council's planning committee was a bitter blow to a group of residents who felt such a move would have an adverse impact on an area forever associated with the Rebecca Riots nineteenth century.
Outlining their objections, resident Phil Cullen said Sylen Mountain was – at 284m – the highest point in south-east Carmarthenshire which had been the site of a huge rally at the height of the Rebecca Riots in August 1843.
He also criticised the fact a similar application by farmer Aled Griffiths had been rejected just nine months previously. "It has been moved behind the hedge – a mere 20 metres," he told councillors. "It has simply been moved down the slope and now it's acceptable.
"These are large machines that will rise above the top of Mynydd Sylen."
Fellow protestor Hayden Jones described the site as "an area of outstanding historical interest". He added: "We are talking about a beautiful landscape that will be vandalised by the construction of these turbines."
The agent, Marie Stacey – speaking on behalf of Mr Griffiths – said the structures would be sited as far away as possible from the summit of the hill in order to minimise their impact.
"This means the turbines will be situated 38 metres below the summit and there are two 44m telecommunication masts nearby," she added. "Two tubines set within the landscape will prevent any significant levels of impact from arising – the telecommunication masts are more prominent and closer to the right of way.
Cllr Emlyn Dole agreed that the masts were the first thing he saw on opening his curtains every morning and welcomed the fact the planned turbines would not now be located on the skyline.
Cllr Peter Cooper argued that such masts looked "even uglier" than turbines. "We have to look a renewable energy," he told colleagues. "If there were houses nearby it would be another matter."
Although planning officer John Thomas described the location as "sensitive" he felt the revised site was infinitely preferable to that proposed in the earlier application.
Responding to Cllr Lenny's suggestion that wind turbines had reached "saturation point" in the area, Mr Thomas said: "We have refused some applications, some of which under delegated powers members may not even have been aware of."