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New renewable energy, helping
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Coriolis Energy and ESB are seeking to develop a wind farm in South Wales, known as Y Bryn wind farm.

Scope of Project

The proposed wind farm site is split into two blocks. The Bryn block is located to the south of the B4282, with the Penhydd block located to the north of the road. The Llynfi and Afan valleys lie to the east and west of the wind farm site respectively. The M4 motorway, the main arterial route running east to west through South Wales, lies to the south of the site.

The design of the proposed wind farm has evolved during the course of the project, and at this stage, the project proposals include:

  • Up to 21 turbines of up to 250m maximum tip height
  • transformers housed either within or adjacent to turbines
  • onsite access tracks plus underground cable runs alongside
  • a site sub-station building
  • a battery energy storage facility
  • one or more permanent anemometry masts (at the hub height of the turbines).

As we progress through the pre-application process, further information and documents will be available to download from the Project documents page.

The Phase Two proposals

The Phase Two proposals for Y Bryn wind farm have taken feedback from the first phase of consultation and further assessment work into account.  

Key points raised about the initial proposals related to visual impacts, turbine noise, traffic and construction, wildlife and existing uses.

We have sought to address key issues through making the following updates to the plans:

  • Reducing the number of proposed turbines from 26 to 21.
  • Removing turbines with the greatest potential impact on the village of Bryn, and also heritage assets and views from Margam Park.
  • Reducing the height of all turbines in the northern Penhydd block, to minimise potential impacts on Bryn, Cwmafan, Maesteg and surrounding nearby communities.
  • Relocating some turbines to reduce specific localised impacts around their siting.
  • Clarifying points related to access, maintenance, wildlife and habitat management, as well as clearer information about community benefit.

 

The plan shown to the right provides an overview of some of the key changes since the first iteration of the plans.

Some additional visual representations of the revised plans are also shown.

Further information will be available to view at the public exhibitions, and on the exhibition boards, which can be downloaded from the Project Documents page.

Click to enlarge
Indicative comparison viewpoints showing changes from Phase 1 to Phase 2 proposals:

The images below are intended to show a visual representation of the difference between the initial proposals (Phase 1) and the current revised proposals (Phase 2) from a number of key viewpoints around the site.  The field of view in all images is 90 degrees horizontal, 60 degrees vertical. All images derive from the 3D model which will be on display at the exhibitions, and are for illustrative purposes only..

Phase 1, view from Bryn Play Area, south (previous)
Phase 2, view from Bryn Play Area, south (current)
Phase 1, view from Brynna Road, Cwmafan (previous)
Phase 2, view from Brynna Road, Cwmafan (current)
Phase 1, view from Junction of Heol Gelli Lenor and Brynllywarch, Maesteg (previous)
Phase 2, view from Junction of Heol Gelli Lenor and Brynllywarch, Maesteg (current)
Phase 1, view from Bryn Play Area, north (previous)
Phase 2, view from Bryn Play Area, north (current)
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Frequently asked questions

These FAQs provide some information about the proposals. They will continue to evolve and expand over time to incorporate additional information and address queries that arise as the Project progresses.

Coriolis Energy and ESB is seeking to develop a wind farm in South Wales, known as Y Bryn wind farm.

The proposed wind farm site is split into two blocks. The Bryn block is located to the south of the B4282, with the Penhydd block located to the north of the road. The Llynfi and Afan valleys lie to the east and west of the wind farm site respectively. The M4 motorway, the main arterial route running east to west through South Wales, lies to the south of the site.

Initially, the Project was envisaged as comprising:

  • Up to 26 turbines of up to 250m maximum tip height
  • transformers housed either within or adjacent to turbines
  • onsite access tracks plus underground cable runs alongside
  • a site sub-station building
  • a battery energy storage facility
  • one or more permanent anemometry masts (at the hub height of the turbines).

We undertook consultation on these initial proposals in Summer 2021. The feedback from that consultation has led to a number of changes to the proposals, which were consulted on during the Phase 2 Consultation in Autumn 2021.

The current proposals have developed as a result of feedback received from the local community and technical consultees to date. Key points raised related to visual impacts, turbine noise, traffic and construction, wildlife and existing uses. We have sought to address key issues through making the following updates to the plans:

  • Reducing the number of proposed turbines from 26 to 21.
  • Removing turbines with the greatest potential impact on the village of Bryn, and also heritage assets and views from Margam Park.
  • Reducing the height of all turbines in the northern Penhydd block, to minimise potential impacts on Bryn, Cwmafan, Maesteg and surrounding nearby communities.
  • Relocating some turbines to reduce specific localised impacts around their siting.
  • Clarifying points related to access, maintenance, wildlife and habitat management, as well as clearer information about community benefit.
Wind turbine noise is highly regulated to the effect that they wouldn’t generally appreciably add to the prevailing background noise levels.
 
Background noise monitoring has been undertaken to inform assessments, design and final turbine choices to ensure the regulations can be met. If the project cannot meet these regulations, it will not receive planning permission. If noise complaints are subsequently made and strict planning conditions not abided by, then the local authorities can take enforcement actions, including shutting individual turbines off under certain wind conditions.
 
As with noise, shadow flicker is carefully assessed and site design and relevant mitigation measures to address shadow impacts will be sought. Site design and mitigation measures are generally successful at eliminating issues in this respect.
 
If it is deemed that shadow flicker impacts cannot be addressed adequately, permission will not be granted. As with other considerations, measures to limit shadow impacts can be conditioned as part of the planning consent.
 
There is no evidence to confirm that modern wind turbines have an impact on house prices in the UK, and it is not possible to speculate on whether there will be any impact in this regard during the planning process.

We aim to minimise tree felling where possible, and where wider felling is necessary, the expectation would be that replanting would take place leaving a “keyhole” area clear for wind farm infrastructure.

We’d also be contributing to a fund to replant any trees lost to infrastructure elsewhere across the Welsh Government Woodland Estate. So, there would be no net loss of trees as a result of this project.

All related impacts from change of use on the site, including through removal of trees, will be taken into account in a flood consequences assessment.

As this project will deliver in excess of 10MW of wind energy it will constitute a Development of National Significance (DNS) under the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 and Coriolis Energy and ESB must apply to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (formerly the Planning Inspectorate Wales), which will make a recommendation to Welsh Ministers on whether or not to grant planning permission.

Ultimately, Welsh Ministers will decide whether or not to approve the application, however many other parties will have the opportunity to influence the proposals, including host local authorities, Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and Bridgend County Borough Council, as well as local communities and interested parties.

We are undertaking an extensive pre-application community consultation exercise prior to submitting an application to the Planning Inspectorate. This involves at least two rounds of public consultation, and a formal consultation period as required by the DNS regulations set out in the Planning (Wales) Act 2015.

We have recently closed our second phase of public consultation on the proposals, however we welcome comments and thoughts on the plans at any time. Please get in touch with us via the ‘Get in touch’ page on this website.

Coriolis Energy and ESB have committed to ensuring that, wherever possible, Welsh contractors are employed to help us deliver the services we need for this project.

We are keen to ensure that the sourcing of components, materials, services and supplies originate from as close to the site as possible. Apprenticeships, site operatives and staff employed locally are also important targets for the Project, and this will form a central requirement for all contractors appointed to help deliver the proposals.

Typically, a percentage of the capital construction cost of building a wind farm is spent within the local economy. There are a wide array of potential suppliers of goods and services, from civil and electrical engineering firms, to electrical equipment and steel products, aggregate suppliers, plant hire, to caterers, hospitality, fencing, forestry, site security, to name but a few. During operation, turbines together with other equipment and infrastructure will require to be operated and maintained. The project therefore would represent a significant opportunity for local businesses in Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and Bridgend County Borough Council areas.

In addition, the significant inward investment through the pre-application, construction and operational phases of the wind farm will result in additional economic stimulus for the broader local economy.

An innovative multi-million pound (potentially up to £1.1million per year) Community Benefit Fund will also provide significant opportunities for local communities to see direct benefit from these proposals. Current proposals are for this to be fully staffed and actively managed to delivered maximum economic and social benefit, measured against Wales ”seven well-being goals” (under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015).

Currently, as much as 90% of the wind turbine can be readily recycled (owning to the fact that it is mostly steel). It is possible to recycle the remaining 10% (which generally relate to parts of the blades), and whilst this is not currently a widespread practice due to lack of available re-processing plants and onward chain of use, technology is advancing rapidly. It is fully expected that by the time the proposed Y Bryn turbines are due to be decommissioned, it will be possible to recycle 100% of the turbine.
 

Coriolis Energy and ESB are aware of Welsh Government targets for Community ownership in renewables by 2030 and fully supports the aspiration.

Community Ownership will form a central consideration over the course of the pre-application process and the Project Team looks forward to discussing this with local communities.

Further information on community ownership opportunities will be available in our latest public consultation materials. 

If the current proposals for 21 turbines of each up to 6.6MW capacity were consented, then this could make for a project of up to 138.6MW total installed power capacity. Taking an assumed ‘load factor’ of 30%1, this could lead to the generation of up to 364,241 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy each year2. The UK average household usage is 3578 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per annum3, meaning that the equivalent number of homes potentially entirely provided for by Y Bryn would be up to 101,8004.

Latest StatWales statistics show that there are 125,920 households in Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend council areas combined5, meaning that illustratively Y Bryn could provide for the equivalent annual needs of around 81% of all households in the combined areas6.

Generation of 364 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year of renewable energy would currently lead to the annual avoidance of over 160,000 tonnes of carbon emissions7.

 

1 Average for onshore wind from BEIS stats 2016-2020 (released in July 2021) is 29.46%. This being an above-average wind speed site, and based on the on-site measured wind data we have collected to date and energy capture analysis undertaken, leads us to believe that a load factor in excess of 30% is realistic

2 (8760 hours in a year) x 138.6MW x 30% = 364,240.8

3 BEIS ‘Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics’, as of December 2020

4 364,241 / 3.578 = 101,800.11

5 StatWales, 2020: Households by Local Authority and Year – NPTCBC = 62,768; BCBC = 63,152; combined = 125,920

6 101,800 / 125,920 = 80.8%

7 BEIS ‘Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics’, July 2021. Table 5.14 “Estimated carbon dioxide emissions from electricity supplied”. BEIS’s “all non-renewable fuels” emissions equate to 440 tonnes of carbon dioxide per GWh.

The reasons for why this location represents a good potential site for an onshore wind farm have been long known and understood since the early 2000’s when it was included within one of the Welsh Government’s “Strategic Search Areas” under spatial policy ‘TAN8’, and then subsequently re-identified by the local authorities within their permitted “Annex G Refinement” process.

Key reasons include:

  • Absence of nationally or internationally protected landscape designations (National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty)
  • Absence of nationally or internationally protected ecologically designated sites (Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest)
  • Adequate separation from surrounding settlements and individual properties
  • Suitable wind resource
  • Proximity to electrical grid
  • Proximity to strategic road network

 

As for why ‘onshore’ wind at all – with the scale of the challenge we have in combatting climate change, through meeting our “Net Zero” commitment to  decarbonise our entire society by 2050, we need to produce substantial amounts of new renewable electricity. This means we need additional onshore wind, as well as offshore wind, solar pv, energy storage, hydrogen, electric vehicles, together with energy efficiency. Taking the “Climate Emergency” that Wales and other UK and international governments have declared, making progress during the 2020’s is critical and we do not have the luxury of delaying any further to wait for  alternatives to emerge.

We are seeking permission to construct turbines ‘up to’ between 206 to 250 metres in height to blade-tip. We understand that the proposed project incorporates turbines of a larger scale than seen in the region historically. We also acknowledge that what the project looks like visually is a key consideration for local communities.

We are proposing to install turbines of this size for a number of reasons, including the fact that the larger the turbine, the more renewable energy can be delivered by each turbine (thus reducing the number of turbines required to deliver the same amount of green energy).

As turbine technology advances, so too do turbine sizes and efficiency – by the time this project is built, it is likely that turbines of a much smaller scale will not be available to purchase.

That said, understanding the possible effects of these turbines visually is a key consideration for us. We have been looking carefully at where turbines of the very largest sizes are appropriate and have refined our proposals accordingly.

The development and construction of all new infrastructure projects is extremely closely monitored. We are undertaking extensive surveys and assessments through our Environmental Impact Assessment process, which will set out, in detail, how all potential impacts on the local forestry, biodiversity, wildlife, ecology, and geology to name a few will be assessed and minimised. It will also explain where any mitigation is required.

 

As we are still in the middle of this process, we don’t yet have specific details on these points that we can share, however we are continuing to work on this and will be able to provide further details once assessments  have been completed and when we come back for a third formal phase of consultation in Spring 2022.

Permission for the proposals will only be given if Planning and Environment Decisions Wales and Welsh Government are satisfied that the project does not have an unacceptable adverse impact on the local area.

At the end of the project’s lifetime, the site will be decommissioned in line with plans, which will be agreed with the relevant local authorities.

This process is closely monitored by relevant statutory bodies and planning permission would not be granted without confirmation, assessment and an agreed process for decommissioning the project.

Wind energy has an important part to play in the decarbonisation of Wales. As one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy generation, and as part of a mix of green energy generation technologies, it has the potential contribute greatly to the drive towards ‘net zero’.

At a local level, there is also the opportunity for communities to see direct benefit from this project through joint ownership. We are working with local energy charity Awel Aman Tawe to explore options for local ownership for up to 10% of the Project. A further 10% of the project is available for local public sector ownership. There is therefore a very real opportunity for local communities to see ongoing, direct benefit from owning a stake in the project. 

The health and safety record of the wind industry is far better than many other forms of industrial energy generation. Health and safety considerations are a central factor in all our activities. There is no scientifically accepted evidence of adverse impacts on human health from wind turbines.

A Met Mast was installed close to the summit of Mynydd Margam in early 2021. The intention is for this to gather data for circa two years, which will help inform wind speed information, which can be correlated against other wind gathering instruments in the region. This data will be used to inform positioning of turbines and contribute to the design and operation of the project.

Yes, bird surveys commenced in winter 2019 and some initial ecological surveys and monitoring commenced in 2020, with further surveys underway across 2021. Survey work and assessment will continue throughout the pre-application process and will be fed into the development process for the project.

We are currently considering different route options for construction access and component delivery to the site.

All routes will be thoroughly assessed as part of a Traffic Impact Assessment and an  Abnormal Indivisible Load (AIL) Survey Report to ensure that vehicles can make the journey without undue impact on the road network or surrounding areas. A Preliminary Construction Traffic Management Plan and a Preliminary AIL Traffic Management Plan will outline the detail of the works and associated traffic movements, including where there may be any mitigation required to address identified issues with the road network locally.

This is something that we will be working on closely with the local highways authorities and technical consultees. We’d also be keen to understand your thoughts on access and routes to the site based on local knowledge.

The principle of grid connection has been agreed to join the transmission system network, not far from the site. The exact grid connection point and route is not yet confirmed, this is something we are still working on, however we are considering how best to minimise any wider impacts related to grid connection.

It is planned to try and maintain as much public access into the forests during construction as possible, however, there may be periods of time where due to construction activity some areas may be placed out of bounds to ensure public safety. Temporary diversions of rights of way may be required and where this isn’t possible any temporary closures will be communicated in advance in consultation with the local authority.

During operation there would be no reduction in public accessibility into and within the site, with the sole exception of hazardous areas such as the substation which will be security fenced.

We would welcome comments and feedback on potential for enhanced provision of facilities and infrastructure to serve the full range of forest users, including walkers of all abilities, runners, mountain bikers and horse-riders.

Typically within 1 to 4 years of operation. The amounts of concrete and other construction materials varies greatly depending on a number of factors including the model of turbine, final design of the project and underlying ground conditions. We will be assessing the carbon footprint of the proposals as part of the development of the project and have been conscious of this point throughout. For example, the insertion of fewer, larger turbines represents a much more efficient way of delivering this level of renewable energy, and the project’s 50 year life expectancy means that it will have saved more carbon than it uses early on in its lifetime.

We are aware of the pre-existing mining operations that took place in the area historically. A preliminary Coal Mining Risk Assessment (CMRA) has been completed in consultation with the Coal Authority and British Geological Survey, and a further CMRA will be produced based on the final project layout. Many onshore wind developments in South Wales are proposed on former coalfields, in areas that have previously been mined, or that have some industrial heritage considerations. This is something we are looking at very carefully through our geological and heritage assessments.

Understanding the makeup of the land below the proposed site is a key constraint factor that we consider as we look at the most appropriate locations to site turbines.

Due to the hard bedrock geology of this site we are proposing to utilise a ‘gravity pad’ type foundation. Counterintuitive though it may seem, the depths of foundations necessary for a ‘gravity pad’ are not directly proportionate to the heights of the turbines, whereas they would be more so for ‘piled’ foundations on softer bedrock. It would depend very much on the underlying geology, which changes across the site, but a dug depth of around 2-3 metres is probably realistic for most proposed turbines.

A gravity pad foundation might be up to 20-30m in diameter. These consist of a steel rebar reinforced cage filled with concrete.

As noted in relation to noise and shadow flicker, great care will be taken with positioning of wind turbines in relation to local houses. The mechanical design and engineering of the turbines, plus the distances involved from the closest wind turbine to a residential property, make it very unlikely that any vibrations would be felt.

Assessment of how any new wind turbines interact with aviation or radar is a primary consideration through the development of the proposals. Close engagement and consultation with relevant consultees, such as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Emergency Services for example ensure that wind farms are designed in a way that minimises or eliminates any potential interference with aviation. If this is not possible, it is unlikely that a turbine – or a whole project – would receive planning permission.

Archaeology and consideration of the historic and heritage setting of the proposals is a key consideration for the project. We are aware of the range of scheduled and non-scheduled archaeology across the site and within the wider area, and are liaising with local heritage consultees.

We’re also working with specialist, experienced, archaeological consultants, Headland Archaeology, who are advising on e.g. setback distances from scheduled monuments and then (subject to statutory consultee agreement) potentially a programme for mitigation/enhancement through the creation of new signage for un-designated features, creation of identified ‘story telling’ walking routes, and possibly other more interactive measures for appreciation.

There would be what’s called an ‘Archaeological Clerk of Works’ on site monitoring all excavations to stop works if any suspected new findings are happened upon, which is why we would be applying for a micrositing allowance so that we are able to move to avoid any such features during construction.

We are keen to hear local thoughts on how the community benefit fund could be delivered and what it could be used for. Providing funding or contributions towards local electricity bills is technically feasible, and could form part of the broader consideration related to the community benefit for this project.

The consultation process is extensive and is ongoing. We have sought to ensure that all local residents are written to directly via post, and that broader mechanisms for raising awareness are deployed. This includes information being posted on social media, online via the website, issued via email, and in local newspapers.

As we are still only part way through the process, we also welcome feedback on the consultation process itself, and how to maximise accessibility for all those that may take an interest in the proposals.