Future of wildlife centre under threat

First published in News

DEATH of wildlife and the closure of a Barry tourist centre are at stake should plans for a solar farm go ahead, staff have warned.

Welsh Hawking Centre ecologist Jamie Munro has raised grave concerns about a proposal for a solar farm in fields adjacent to the Weycock Road wildlife centre.

The plans, submitted to the Vale council last month by developers Elgin Energy, are for a 25 year installation that would generate power for 2,000 houses.

While supportive of a need to generate green energy, Jamie Munro and Welsh Hawking Centre staff believe that the location needs to be reconsidered.

He described how both the Hawking Centre, which opened in 1980, and their birds - some of which are endangered species - would suffer if situated next to a solar farm.

"Tourists are unlikely to wish to visit the centre if it is sited next to what, despite the name "solar farm", is in reality a large industrial unit," he said.

"We strongly feel that if this large scale project is given the go ahead it will prove extremely damaging to our business, possibly resulting in the closure of a unique educational facility that serves the whole of south Wales and beyond.

"The Welsh Hawking Centre is unique in Wales, being the only breeding centre of endangered birds of prey open to the public.

"The disturbance caused in the four month construction period could result in the failure to breed many or all birds here. A disaster for our business and breeding programs."

Elgin's proposal states that the development "has no unacceptable effect upon the sites of Conservation, Historical, Ecological and Wildlife Importance.

"Following cessation of the use, the site will be returned to a condition in-keeping with the quality of the area before work had commenced.

"As such, the use of the land as a solar farm will not impact upon the future use of the site for agriculture."

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