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Apprentices break ground at Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd wind farm

Plant operative apprentices Daniel Owen and James Symon

Two young apprentices will master 40 tonne dump trucks as part of their training at a flagship development to construct England and Wales’ largest wind farm.

Plant operative apprentices Daniel Owen and James Symon, who both live just a short distance from the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project between Neath and Aberdare, have been honing their skills since starting on site recently.

Both Daniel, 18 of Aberdare, and James, 20 from Mountain Ash, have made significant contributions to the work completed so far by joint venture partners Jones Bros and Balfour Beatty on behalf of wind farm developer Vattenfall.

Alongside their plant training and health and safety studies, Daniel and James’ have been operating dump trucks and compactor rollers to develop new and existing access roads across the 4,600 hectare site.

Eryl Roberts, project manager for the Jones Bros and Balfour Beatty joint venture, said: “Both Daniel and James are fitting in very well. They’ve both shown good application to the tasks we’ve set them so far.

“At the moment, they’re operating 40 tonne dump trucks and compactor rollers, constructing the site tracks and preparing the ground for where the turbine bases will be constructed.

“This is a great site to learn at, as there’s quite a few aspects to the project for them to work on. There’s plenty of track, giving an opportunity to learn how to handle different road surfaces and terrain, as well as a variety of weather conditions that we’ve already experience on site.

“We carry out weekly reviews to keep with how they’re doing, but we’ve been pleased with the progress all three have made so far. They’ll be here for the duration of the project, which is set to run for another year or so now.”

Daniel and James join fellow plant operative apprentice Jonathan Bird, from Hirwaun, and trainee civil engineer Thomas Burbidge, who have both been at the site since the joint venture’s balance of plant work began in February.

The apprenticeships form part of the commitment from Jones Bros, Balfour Beatty and Vattenfall to supporting new jobs and skills in the region. A total of two thirds of all plant operatives will be sourced from within 30 miles of the Pen y Cymoedd site.

Alistair Hinton, Construction Manager for Vattenfall said: “Work on making connections with the local supply chain began during the planning phase in conjunction with the local authorities.

“Our aim has always been to create a sustainable project, maximising opportunities to the local supply chain where possible.

“Now that we are well into construction is it fantastic to see our commitments becoming a reality with local apprentices, workers and companies all benefitting from our project.

“We could not have followed through on our commitment without the help of Jones Bros Balfour Beatty who have been very co-operative to date”.

Once operational, Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project will be the largest onshore wind farm in England and Wales, generating enough electricity to power around 140,000 homes.