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Round And About - Trefor Roberts

I am always amazed at the way the views of people are ignored by those in authority, so it was particularly gratifying to see the turnaround over the fate of the Cymmer Ambulance Station.

While everyone recognises the need for the various health service organisations to be careful about how they use money, the ambulance service is definitely in the front line - for many, a fast response has meant the difference between life or death.

We have been made aware of the shortcomings of the ambulance service in recent months and the long-overdue injection of cash to update the communications system.

Cost-cutting is fine, but not when it puts lives at risk.

Unlike the Cymmer situation, however, most pleas from the public go unheeded. Just consider how many times petitions and objections by large sections of the community against proposed developments have been ignored.

There has been opencast mining around Glynneath for getting on for 50 years, and time and again planning applications to open new mines or extend operations already underway have been approved, despite strong objections from communities, who feel they have been exploited enough.

Then there was the proposed Secure Young Offenders Unit, which was approved by the council - and politicians - despite a huge protest from the people of Glynneath and surrounding area. That it didn't come to fruition has nothing to do with the council listening to the views of residents; it was just that the youth justice system failed to pursue it for financial reasons.

Currently there are massive protests against the siting of scores of wind farms around the county borough, and strong resistance to the gas pressure reduction station in Cilfrew.

It is quite evident that the TAN8 proposal for 38 per cent of wind farms to be located in the Neath Port Talbot area is outrageously unfair. If we have to go down the wind farm route, should not the load be more fairly distributed?

I wonder if those advocating the construction of these giants (up to 600ft high in some cases) would be so happy if their homes were as close to the proposed development as the villagers in Glyncorrwg?

When npower proposed a 26-turbine wind farm on Romney Marsh in Kent, the local authorities rallied to the support of residents in opposition to the plan.

Those involved in opposing the development included Kent County Council, Shepway District Council and Camber Parish Council in Rye, East Sussex.

Professor Philip Scott, from the University of London, has said the wind farm would be a 'desecration' of the landscape and 'a wanton waste of one of our remaining wildernesses'. That sounds very similar to the reasons why our beautiful mountains should be left alone.

Why can't our local authorities follow the example of those Kent authorities and back the people who live in Neath Port Talbot?

This part of South Wales has borne the brunt of industrial development and all the disadvantages linked to it. In recent years, efforts have been made to change our image and open up the once-scarred Valleys for tourism, with its huge potential for employment.

Are we about to sacrifice all that?

Newspaper: Neath Port Talbot Guardian
Date: 01/03/07