UK says yes to up to 299MW at Vattenfall's Pen Y Cymoedd wind

The UK government has given the go-ahead to Vattenfall’s 76-turbine Pen Y Cymoedd onshore wind farm in Wales.

At up to 299MW the £300m ($484m) project could become the highest-capacity land-based wind plant in England and Wales.

Vattenfall says it could begin construction work next year after receiving consent from UK energy minister Charles Hendry.

The first power from Pen Y Cymoedd – which the Swedish utility says will have a capacity of “250MW-plus” – would be due in 2016.

The planned wind farm is sited on publicly-owned land managed by Forestry Commission Wales in the south of the country.

Vattenfall says it will review the letter of consent in detail before making a final investment commitment.

One of the conditions set by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is to ensure that coal could be extracted in the future from beneath the site of the wind farm “in response to concerns about possible effects on mining”.

UK government consent for Pen Y Cymoedd comes a day after the DECC released a study highlighting the economic benefits of onshore wind.

Vattenfall claims Pen y Cymoedd – which it describes as its “Welsh flagship” – could be worth more than £1bn to the UK economy.

The growth of onshore wind has become a political headache for UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who faces dissent from within his own Conservative Party over the issue.

Vattenfall has pledged to a community benefits package potentially worth more than £55m over the 25-year lifetime of the development, including £3m for habitat management and £6,000 a year per-megawatt to a Community Trust Fund, says the DECC.