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Felling works complete as wind farm takes first steps at Brechfa Forest West

Local supply chain wins nearly £500,000 in contracts

Tree clearance works at RWE Innogy UK’s new Brechfa Forest West Wind Farm is now complete and declared an enormous success, both for the project and the local supply chain. The works, the first significant activity on site so far, resulted in the awarding of around £500,000 in contracts to local companies in South and West Wales to deliver the complex felling programme. RWE Innogy UK contracted Natural Resources Wales to head up the tree clearance works on its behalf, and said it was delighted that so many local firms had already been able to benefit from the scheme.

Bethan Edwards, project manager for RWE Innogy UK said: “We stated from the very start that the building of Brechfa Forest West Wind Farm would create local business opportunities. We’re still a way off building the turbines themselves but we are already demonstrating the strength of our commitment. The renewables sector and wind farms like Brechfa represent a great opportunity for Welsh firms to diversify and engage in what remains a buoyant sector. We’re likely to start enabling works towards the end of this year, with full construction following in 2016, and we expect to see more opportunities like this unlocked for local firms in the coming months.”

A socio-economic study of the up to 28 turbine Brechfa Forest West Wind Farm concluded that it could support up to 224 jobs during construction alone, and be worth up to £19 million to the South and West Wales economies. At the same time, it will lever in community investments of £560,000 a year, index linked. RWE Innogy UK has already held two supply chain events, in Carmarthen and Swansea prior to the start of work to help local firms understand and benefit from the opportunities available, and says firms can expect more of the same in future.

Natural Resources Wales began felling works in October 2014, and maintained a significant presence on site, with supervisors, ecologists and project managers constantly on site, many of whom live close to the site. Since October 2014, 140 hectares have been cleared, including circa 20,000 tonnes of felled timber, which is all going to Welsh markets, and 40 hectares have been mulched. Compensatory planting will ensure that there is no loss of woodland cover overall.

Hannah Mitchell of Natural Resources Wales’s Energy Delivery Programme said: “The clearance work was due to be completed by the end of February and we managed this with a week to spare. We have worked closely with RWE to ensure this project not only benefits the people and economy of Wales, but also has minimum impact on the environment.”

To complete the work, Natural Resources Wales subcontracted felling contractors, Coed Camddwr, from Ceredigion, and Smerdons from Merthyr Tydfil, mulching specialist Spencer ECA from Ceredigion on the project. Land maintenance, groundworks and biomass specialists Spencer ECA, with headquarters at Llandysul, Ceredigion, had several teams onsite carrying out mulching operations throughout the tree clearance.

James Nash, Contracts Manager at Brechfa West for Spencer ECA said: “This is our fourth contract in the wind farm sector now, and it is becoming an increasingly valuable part of our business. We diversified four years ago, developing specialised items of machinery and methods, and developing and increasing our workforce to be able to compete for these contracts, and we’re proud of the work we’ve won so far. Given the nature of wind farms, we have often been travelling to some remote parts of the UK, and hence it’s been fantastic to be able to work so close to home. Whilst we have adapted and are successful at running all the projects regardless of where they are, it does make running the processes involved so much easier when they are on the doorstep.”

In addition, the project has also seen a number of smaller local companies engaged to keep the site running smoothly, and providing services from site security and fresh drinking water on site, to toilets, printing services and CB radios. RWE Innogy UK hopes to start enabling works towards the end of the year with construction due to last for around 18 months.

RWE INnogy

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