Wind farm work continues despite stone row find
WIND farm developers have downplayed the significance of an archaeological find near their Ammanford construction site.
Independent archaeologists claim the discovery at Mynydd-y-Betws is a 5,000-year-old neolithic "stone row" used for ceremonies and ancient festivals.
But energy company ESB said the significance of the stones has not yet been verified and that work was continuing as normal.
The company's project liaison officer, Noel Gallagher, said: "When the stones were discovered none of them were destroyed, contrary to reports in the media.
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"Several of them were inside an area fenced off around the road but they did not breach our access road.
"Our own archaeologists, Cotswold Archaeology, working in conjunction with Carmarthenshire Council and Cadw, devised a methodology to examine them, which we have adhered to."
The stone row is about 500 metres long and comprises stones six to eight feet apart.
Mr Gallagher said two stones which lay inside the fenced off area around the access road were the ones which have been removed and tested.
He said as soon as the stones were discovered work stopped in that area of the site.
ESB is the parent company of Cambrian Renewable Energy Limited (CREL), which is in charge of the build.
CREL has come under fire from anti-wind farm protestors and the British Archaeological Trust, which said it found it "incredible" the stones were not found during the planning application process.
But Mr Gallagher said the row was only revealed after a ferocious gorse fire hit the mountain last year.
"Cotswold Archaeology did the initial check on our work area," he said.
"There were no stones within the four-foot access road itself, but one or two of them were within our ten-foot fenced-off area around the road. And that is why we stopped.
"There was a gorse fire and it uncovered things which you would have had to have been on your hands and knees to see beforehand."
But Mr Gallagher's comments were rejected by one of the UK's leading archaeology lawyers, Peter Alexander-Fitzgerald, who is on the council of the British Archaeological Trust.
"How anyone could say that before the fire they would only be visible on hands and knees is astonishing," Mr Alexander- Fitzgerald said in response to Mr Gallagher's comments.
"I could see many of them from the nearby path.
"The problem with a lot of these finds is you have to assume something is there in relation to the other known archaeological sites in the area."
Mr Alexander-Fitgerald said the site had the potential to be "hugely significant" and that a full survey of the area should be carried out.
He said removing the stones was not an effective way to assess their age.
This is because the only thing which would give clues to how long they had been there was the fact they are in a row, not the make-up of the stones themselves.
Mr Gallagher said the find had not put the build behind schedule and that it was going ahead as normal.