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An extension of Mynydd y Gwair wind farm is being considered

SWANSEA’S only wind farm could be extended, but no planning application is imminent.

The Mynydd y Gwair wind farm, near Felindre, has operated for around four years.

Landowner the Somerset Trust has contacted a commoners association whose members graze livestock at Mynydd y Gwair to say an extension is being looked into, but no further details are known at this stage.

A spokesman for the trust said it was very early days. “There’s not any planning application imminent,” he said.

He added that if the extension idea was taken forward, an application would also be made to exchange land so that the size of the common remained the same as now.

West Glamorgan Commoners Association secretary Brigitte Rowlands, whose cattle graze near the wind farm, said she had been contacted by the Somerset Trust about the proposal. Mrs Rowlands said a meeting was taking place on April 18 to ensure all commoners were aware of it.

Plans for a 16-turbine wind farm at Mynydd y Gwair and tracks needed for its construction were approved by Swansea Council in 2014, despite opposition. Commoners were concerned about disturbance during construction, its impact on vegetation and the water supply, and its effect on the way cattle and sheep returned to their traditional grazing patch – a learned behaviour from birth known as hefting. A previous application for a 19-turbine wind farm had been turned down on appeal.

Mrs Rowlands, who is also a Swansea councillor, representing Clydach, said the wind farm had changed the common from an agricultural and hefting perspective. “There’s no doubt about that,” she said.

Grazing animals, she said, were disturbed by off-road motorbike riders who illegally used the wind farm access tracks. Mrs Rowlands also said inconsiderate parking on the main road passing Mynydd y Gwair caused problems.

But she said the number of commoners affected was less than it would have been 20 years ago, and that the actual mechanical operation of the turbines wasn’t such an issue.

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The wind farm is operated by RWE Renewables and provides some financial support for local groups via a community fund administered by umbrella charity Swansea Council for Voluntary Service. RWE Renewables said it was aware of a possible extension but that this was being looked into by a third party.

There is a presumption in favour of new onshore wind farms in 10 “pre-assessed areas” in Wales, subject to various criteria. The country had 753 wind energy projects as of 2021, plus three offshore ones.

The Welsh Government is consulting on revised renewable energy targets which, if implemented and met, would result in Wales generating all its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2035. Ministers are currently aiming for 70% renewable generation by 2030.