Looking to nature creates a second chance for Welsh Farmers

Faced with a dramatic 75% decline in farming through disasters as diverse as Chernobyl and BSE, many Welsh hill farmers decided to pack up and try a new line in work. Not the three families that make up the Cwmni Gwynt Teg (‘fair wind’ in Welsh) cooperative. When faced with disaster in 1997, this ingenious group looked to the the mountains for inspiration and harnessed the wind, on their own land. They now run the Moel Moelogan Wind farm, a profitable and growing business.

Moel Moelogan now has two operational wind turbines that are producing electricity for the local grid system in Conwy County, Wales. The combined output of these turbines is 2.6 megawatts per hour – enough to supply 1,600 homes. Moel Moelogan is the first community project of its kind in the UK, being 100% locally owned and with all income generated remaining in the area. The project also contributes to meeting the UK’s targets on reducing carbon emissions and so tackling climate change.

Ail Wynt is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26,400 tonnes per year and nitrogen dioxide emissions by 304 tonnes per year. It will also contribute to the UK government’s target of producing 10% of the country’s electricity requirements from renewable energy by 2010.

Turbine technology advanced so quickly between the time of writing the application and receiving planning permission that Cwmni Gwynt Teg realized they need only use two turbines in order to produce enough electricity to fulfill their contract with the NFPA. Planning permission for the third site was then sold to a German company called Energie Kontor to raise equity and improve the viability of the Moel Moelogan project. The group has made every endeavor from the very beginning to ensure that the local community is involved, by ‘working outwards’ when seeking support, starting with the local residents and then moving on to county councils and national bodies.
Cwmni Gwynt Teg is also working in partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to manage approximately 300 acres of land on their farms to encourage the breeding of endangered species.

Rhodri Morgan, the First Minister for Wales, officially opened the wind farm on 31st January, 2003. A decision is currently being made by the planning departments about the possible expansion of the wind farm.

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