Was a speaker at the British Wind Energy Association Conference in Cardiff this morning. Good turnout. A well informed audience. Fellow Panellists were Rhodri Glyn Thomas for Plaid Cymru, Alun Davies for Labour and Mick Bates for the Lib Dems. Notionally, I was speaking for the Conservatives, but I felt more a representative for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. Here's some of the issues raised.
In my five minute opening slot, I launched into the TAN 8 document, published by the Assembly Government in 2005 - describing it as an assault on local democracy, as counter productive in that it antagonises local planning authorities, as enshrining the principle of 'cumulative impact' in the planning process, as being far to focused on a single form of renewable energy, and being totally unachievable in Mid Wales because there will be no capacity to transfer the power generated to the National Grid until 2016. To me its clear that TAN 8 has been a disaster, and needs to be redrafted. Must admit I was expecting some stick, but I didn't get any - and over coffee I was surprised to hear quite a lot of support.
Rhodri Glyn must have been living on another planet for the last year or so. He seemed to think the choice facing us is nuclear power or onshore wind farms. Such idealism is entirely appropriate for a man of the cloth who believes that faith and prayer can deliver the impossible. Mick Bates took the same line. Alun Davies agreed with my view that the issue has already been decided, and the UK Government is now totally committed to building more nuclear power generation. Interestingly, Ieuan Wyn Jones, leader of Rhodri's party agrees with Alun and me on this. Didn't seem to bother Rhodri at all when this was pointed out.
Mick made one of those arm waving speeches of his that I find a bit difficult to follow. He was boasting about how proud he is of the stance Liberal Democrats take in support of wind farms (in response to a question about off shore wind). Couldn't help it. Had to point out that in Montgomeryshire, the MP he shares an office with publicly disagrees with almost every word he said today. Someone else pointed out that his Assembly colleague, Peter Black vehemently opposed the off shore proposal near Porthcawl some years ago as well. I won't embarrass Mick by repeating what he said - except to report that it was not very complimentary about either of his supposed colleagues. De-mob happy I reckon. But fair play to Mick. On this issue he's been consistent for a while now.
It looked a good professional conference. Would like to have stayed longer, but wanted to be back in Newtown by 2.00 for a Montg. Wildlife Trust meeting.