Engaging the community - 24MW wind farm construction
Building the 24 MW Tirgwynt wind farm in Powys, mid-Wales, presented a major logistical challenge for owners Belltown Power. The 12 turbines required 90 abnormal HGV loads carrying components up to 45m long and 70 tonnes in weight to be transported with police escorts through narrow Welsh country lanes and along Welshpool High Street. These deliveries to the wind farm site needed to take place during the summer months of July and August 2016.
While the logistics were meticulously planned with the hauliers, council officers and the police to cause minimal disruption, there was understandable concern from some local residents and councillors about the potential impact the delivery schedule could have on other road users.
Working collaboratively with Belltown and their construction project managers, Wind Prospect, SFW Communications developed and executed a strategy to raise awareness in the community of the planned turbine deliveries and to mitigate their concerns. This included a press and radio campaign; organising and attending public information sessions and community liaison group meetings; speaking at council meetings; providing briefing materials to local politicians and other key stakeholders; responding to queries from the public; and using social media and an innovative text alert system to inform the community about daily timings of deliveries.
After the delivery programme finished, we received overall very positive feedback from the community. Several councillors complimented the Tirgwynt project team on our professionalism and openness. They also acknowledged in local press that their initial concerns about the deliveries had been unfounded.
As construction drew close to completion, we also helped Belltown set up the Community Trust Funds to benefit residents of nine different community councils in the area. Whilst the two host communities already had existing Wind Farm funds, we set up a new separate fund for the seven communities impacted by the delivery route, administered locally. Overall the Tirgwyt communities will be getting c. £50,000 a year increasing in line with inflation to be spent on local projects bringing social and environmental benefits to the area.