Friday, December 05, 2008

My Stapleton Lecture

It did look a bit like a clandestine, cross-party, anti-Liberal Democrat meeting over dinner. Secreted away in a shadowy corner of the Belle Vue at Aberystwyth, enjoying an intimate dinner, were Penri James, Plaid Cymru candidate for Cereidigion and me. I don't think its presumptuous to claim that both of us are main challengers to incumbent Lib-Dem MPs. We should have arranged a photograph to wind them up a bit. But it was all boringly innocent. Penri's a lecturer at Aber University, and a big wig in the Stapleton Society - and I was delivering last night's Stapleton Lecture. There's a tradition that the visiting lecturer is fed and watered in an effort to improve performance.

I'd been billed as President of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, and that I was going to speak about our approach to wind farms in rural Wales. Actually, I spoke about my personal approach. Perhaps I surprised a few when I said that I actually supported the first major wind farm in Wales, the current Llandinam wind farm. In the early 90s, I still believed we could avoid more nuclear power stations by a full blooded renewable energy policy, and that onshore wind was one of several options we should be looking at. I was not unduly concerned about the odd onshore wind farm - where there was local support. It was the publication of the National Assembly Government's grotesque Tan 8 planning guidelines in 2004, that horrified me. It was brutal vandalism, perpetrated on my home area of Montgomeryshire. Even today, there are but few who understand the full horror of what has been perpetrated. Anyway, I let fly. Let me tell you what was so appalling about TAN 8.

It was a massive strike against local democracy. The document laid out precise boundaries within which wind farms would succeed in winning permission, even if local opinion and planners were opposed. Great for providing certainty for developers, but a case of 'B****cks to local democracy'.

It effectively scrapped the concept of 'cumulative impact'. Even today, I could live with the odd wind farm on sites where the impact of turbines and cables are containable and supported, but this poisonous Assembly Government document presaged wind farm landscapes, destroying something that I hold dear.

It was based on wildly unrealistic targets. The inevitable consequence was that Assembly renewables policy would become based solely on wind farms. The approach to developing other technologies has been abysmal - just as expected.

And the whole presentation of the debate was dishonest. Even today it's dishonest. I still hear people say that when they are weighing up the benefit of renewable energy against the impact of wind farms, on balance they accept them. I can scream "What about the bl00dy cables" as loudly as I like - but it's never part of the consideration. Its an irony that this dishonesty is about to derail the Government's plans. The reality is that the policy is in tatters and utter shambles. Because the cables issue has not been addressed, there are wind farm proposals without affordable access to the National Grid. As far as I can see, they're stuffed until 2015 at least.

No idea what the audience thought of it. I had no notes, and can become a bit theatrical and over-emphatic when I'm in verbal freewheel mode. Anyway, I really enjoyed myself, and I don't think I said anything that will lead to me being ditched as CPRW President.


The Wilted Rose said...

You are absolutely spot on about windfarms. The Government has supported windfarms because it makes them look green, even though they haven't thought through the logistics and practicalities.

Typical. Put a Labour minister and some civil servants together and it's a recipe for disaster.

P going on S Man said...

Very good point about the aboveground cable issue - more than a 'blot on the landscape'.

One can argue 'until blue in the face' that wind-power or any 'renewable' energy source also pollutes the environment in some way or other.

I just wonder when Joe-Public will finally find out the truth about global-warming - that NASA got it wrong (re: warmest decade on record), the 1930s were the warmest years on record not the 1990s. I remember my mother telling me that her father (and hence my maternal grandfather) slept up on the 'mountain' in the 1930s summer(s) near Llanbradach - because it was so hot and to take pressure off his mother who did not have enough food in the house to feed everyone properly. So he stayed up on the mountain where he caught a few rabbits and ate them. I kid you not; this is what I was told. My maternal grandfather used to say something like, "You think this is hot?" (Referring to his memories of the summers back in the '30s.

Honestly, this global warming issue is mainly an issue because few people realize that it is a non-issue. CO2 is banded about like it is something evil, when in fact it used by green plants. Farmers with greenhouses boost tomato production by boosting the amount of CO2 in their greenhouses ... I guess very few people remember their high-school chemistry classes - this is the application of Le Chatelier's Principle.

Yes the world's temperature is on an up-curve - better that than being on a down-curve ... the earth's temperature is always going up or going down or switching from going up to going down or switching from going down to going up. Pre-man and hence pre-industry the earth's temperature was at times a lot hotter than it is today. Regardless of what we do or don't do, the earth's temperature will cool down again and will see new ice ages - rather a warm up than an ice-age. Species adapt, new species come into being in response to changes on the earth's surface. No biggie - it has happened over and over and over and over and over ... again, and will happen over and over and over and over ... again ... cycles - there's the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle ... so many cycles. We worry about water - but its not going anywhere where we can't get to it. The UK is surrounded by giga-tons of water. We can personally make water out of sea water - how do naval fighter-bomber pilots cope if they ditch in the sea? They don't carry buckets of fresh water - they instead carry a hand-operated RO pump (reverse osmosis) to make fresh water out of sea water.

Honestly, anyone could make his or her own fresh water out of sea-water by peddling on an exercise bike operatively coupled to a domestic RO setup.

This nonsense about global warming has now even spread to cow manure - or more accurately to cows making the manure and still more precisely to cow's farting while they naturally make cow manure.

Can anyone believe this nonsense? Apparently millions of people are taken in by it.

There are many people getting filthy rich making money off the global warming 'issue' - ask Al Gore, he has made millions - so much that he has a super-size mansion. I don't know how many times he has flown on a private jet, but probably more times than the average Joe Public who believe his nonsense.