Friday, March 18, 2011

The Madness of Turbines, Cables and Sub Stations.

Been catching up on the current state of play in the Assembly Government's plans to cover the hills of Montgomeryshire in wind turbines today. Reps of National Grid and SP Energy Networks called by my office to outline the awful options still on the table. They are all very nice people. But it was a bit like meeting your very nice doctor, who is also a friend, offering you the choice of ripping out your right eye or ripping out your left eye. There's no option of keeping both eyes - the Hospital Trust CEO has decided that your features must be desecrated. Anyway, this post is about the stage that these desecration plans have reached.

First issue is the location of the 20 acre sub station into which all the wind farms will connect. After months of discussion with statutory agencies (including Powys Council), there is a short list of two sites - one near Abermule and one near Bowen's Quarry in Adfa. It matters big-time which is chosen. If its Adfa, the 400kv cable carried on 50 metre high steel pylons will pass down the Vyrnwy Valley all the way from Adfa to connect with the Grid in Shropshire. If its Abermule, the cable will pass down the Severn Valley to Shropshire - or further South, with most of its length being the other side of Offa's Dyke. I'm told its a 50/50 call, and the consultation responses will make the difference.

Second big issue is how much of the cable will be 'undergrounded'. When I last met today's harbingers, there seemed little prospect of any of the cable going underground. The 'tone' has definitely changed, and we need to make a loud noise about this. Not that 'undergrounding' is undisruptive. Burying a 400kv cable makes a very big mess indeed - and its only likely in some places. Personally, I hope we can maximise it.

Third issue is the network of 132kv cables running from the various wind farms to the sub station. These are going to be carried on 25/30 metre high steel pylons. At present there seems little prospect of much of this network being buried underground, because its an upfront cost for the wind farm developer - which could render several of the wind farms uneconomic. "So bl****y what" I hear you scream - or was it me. Problem is that SP Energy have a statutory responsibility to the wind farm developers - and if some drop out, the cables could well have been built in the wrong place.

Fourth issue is the timetable. The plan is that the consultation period will end in early summer (June-ish) and the cruel, fateful axe will fall September-ish - announcing which valley in what is the most beautiful landscape of the UK will be desecrated for ever. My fingers twitch with barely controlled anger as I type these words. Hope does remain. Its all madness of course - the same sort of unseeing madness which created the much lauded tower blocks and coniferous forests of the 1960s. Let's hope that this blindness be cured, before we lose much of what the unafflicted lovers of Montgomeryshire, love to look out upon.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Instead of spending a fortune on such ugly infra-structure y not manufacture hydrogen on site? That way all of the electricity generated can be used to make hydrogen and hydrogen can be used in all sorts of ways including driving machines and presents one way of effectively storing electricity for later use. Wales could be among the first countries to get a local hydrogen economy going! It's a great 'starter' element to make other things.
Chris Wood, PhD (Chemistry)

Anonymous said...

Spot on. The greedy on shore wind farm developers have had the ear of the government for far too long, and it is high time that the 'green tinted spectacles' of Chris Huhne and Jane Davidson were thrown in the bin. It is time for common sense to prevail and have the ridiculous renwable policies re written to prevent the needless destruction of beatiful parts of Britain such as Mid Wales hefore it is too late. There must be more MPs and AMs like you that can see the bigger picture. In the words of the Automatic "What's that coming over the hill, is it a monster, is it a monster??"....

Anonymous said...

If we hadn't let the Forestry Commission plant large areas of Mid Wales we wouldn't now be having the windfarms and power lines. Once the power lines are built there will be pressure to locate even more windfarms in Powys because the argument will be that Mid Wales is already spoiled so there should be further concentration here to save other parts of Wales.

Don't understand the argument that 132kV power lines can't be under grounded because Scottish Power have a statutory responsibility to connect them whatever the environmental costs. The large energy companies building some of the large windfarms here will be making billions of pounds of profit this year yet they can't pay to underground power lines in Mid Wales?

Glyn Davies said...

Chris - Beyond my knowledge but ounds good!

Anon 1 - It is a monster.

Anon 2 - Both National Grid and SP Networks have statutory duties. I do not know the precise wording of the duties, but I believe SP Networks are obliged to offer connections with some regard to cost, which it passes on to developers in the connection charges. It may well be that if the 132kv cables (for which SP Networks is responsible) are put underground, the cost would make some wind fams uneconomic. Now you and I and thousands of others might think this rather welcome, but I'm not sure whether SP Networks could sustain its position under legal challenge. I will continue to call for as much of the cabling to be underground as possible.

Fran said...

Please Glyn, make your opposition known in the County Times - we need to open the eyes of all the local people.

When we found out about this awful business, we went to see some of our neighbours - and not one had bothered to look at the "Project News" for the National Grid. Also I'm sure it was a deliberate ommision, but the map with the route corridors was not included in the information, nor was it published in the County Times last week, and not everyone has access to the Internet, several of our neighbours being a case in point. No-one seemed to know anything about it, and I have to say one or two were rather apathetic to the news, even though they will be directly affected as the route goes right over them. This is the proposed route from Cefn Coch.

I have a horrible feeling that this will be the preferred route, as that's where most of the hideous turbines are situated already and where there are many more planning applications impending (rumour has it that our esteemed AM and his in-laws have applied for turbines on their land too.)

So we cannot expect any support from our local AM as he has been instrumental in pushing for windfarms to be allowed all over Montgomeryshire.A lot of the blame for this lies firmly at his door.

As you say - putting the lines underground will make a terrible mess and mean wholesale destruction of woodland, but that has to be better than our beautiful valley being desecrated for ever by huge steel pylons.

We are trying to drum up support for a local campaign, but I fear we have quite a fight on our hands, so we need all the support we can get.

Anonymous said...

I do not share your view glyn.

I believe that the regeneration the cables will bring to the area will be great. in time, as others have pointed out, mid wales could benefit by creating new green jobs, not all connected to wind power but other forms of renewable energy.
The potential here is massive and should be capitalised upon. we need someone with passion and vision to see this through.

Sadly our future generations can not rely on coal, gas or oil to generate heat and electricity and alternatives must be looked in to.

I would love to know how many nuclear power stations the uk would need to be self suficiant in producing it's own electricity without having to import from other countries. and with an increase of nuclear power stations comes a greater increase of threats from god knows what!!!

Dolgead Hall Caravan and Lodge Park said...

Knowledge is power!

Please please get the full details of the Cefn Coch route published in the County Times.

Everyone I have spoken to are blissfully ignorant of the implications.

Can we find out what we acn do to campaign against it?

Anonymous said...

how will power cables bring regeneration? don't we already have an electricity supply

Leo Harris said...

Re: Anon 21st March:

I work in the energy industry and I know exactly how inefficient on-shore wind turbines are to run and maintain. They are not the solution to our energy needs. It has never been the case of better wind power rather than nuclear, it will be BOTH! What do they propose we use to power our homes on calm days? Power stations cannot be flicked on and off at will, they must run constantly, even as backup.

Anonymous said...

I wish the people of Wales showed the same passion to opposing the cost to our beautiful lanscape of supplying England with electricity, as they did to supplying them with our water!! At the end of the day I'd much rather look at Lake Vyrnwy and Trewerin than windturbines and pylons!!!!

Anonymous said...

Glyn, I think you are assuming that everyone is against this. There are (was) quite a few people directly and indirectly employed in this industry and many more could be if it wasn't for all the negativity against it. We need to accept change to create a better future. I have lived in Mid Wales all my life, I love and enjoy the countryside in many ways but I want myself and my children to have a future here with employment. I believe there is a balance to be had. By the way, a 132KV line can be erected on wooden poles as seen with the Manweb application from Llandinam to Welshpool which also has a lot of opposition. Seems certain people, although believe in renewable energy don't want to see anything new in their back yard.

Anonymous said...

we have to embrace change. in years to come, the only employment options in montgomery will be in agriculture, nursing home care workers, and tesco check out workers on minimum wage.

Make a difference and allow this renewable energy industry to expand for the long term benefit of this forgotten county.

Anonymous said...

132kV power lines can be put underground, but the greedy wind farm developers won't pay for the lines to be undergrounded. Tourism generates many more jobs in Montgomeryshire than the "few people directly and indirectly employed" in the wind farm industry (which these lines are for). If the landscape is blighted by wind farms and pylons, tourism will move elsewhere.
It is about time the government got their priorities right and started listening to the people who live in and care about the areas that the wind farms are destroying.
Wind farm companies are quick to brand opponents as NIMBYs. If that label is being aimed at people who care about their environment, I for one am proud to be born and bred in Montgomeryshire too, and proud to be a wind farm NIMBY!!! Shame on you on-shore wind farm developers....
Don't even get me started on the massive subsidies that these unscrupulous companies are raking in year on year from our already expensive electricity bills. The whole wind farm industry would collapse without subsidies from us NIMBYs.

Anonymous said...

I run a b&b, and a number of my guests have enjoyed walking around various wind farms in the area. the experience, the photos, the memories they will treasure. Not one guest has been put off by the wind farms. So in my experience, the wind farms do not deter tourists, they encourage it

Anonymous said...

Agree that our future energy needs must come from BOTH nuclear and renewable sources. for our children's sake, i hope we can make as much electricity from renewables which would mean less nuclear waste being produced.

Anonymous said...

nuclear is subsidized too is it not? plus as a bonus there are no nasty harmful bi-products with renewable.

Anonymous said...

I for one welcome the wind farms. And no, I am not a land owner.

They has allowed my business to expand and grow thanks to their being extra money in the agricultural industry in this area. I have been able to create extra employment which is what this country needs!!!

I am just one example of wind farms indirectly benefiting the area. There are countless others.

Anonymous said...

Wind farms creating benefits for your business? Are you involved with concrete (for the bases)or some short term work building them? Apart from these sort of short term jobs the main nemployment benefits are for Danish workers making the components etc. Denmark which led the windfarm/windpower rush is currently reining back.
If we rely on windfarms to satisfy our future power needs this may be a good time to get into candle making!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the visitors at the B & B can go for a nice walk beneath the 400kV pylons too. The odd wind turbine here and there might be interesting, but masses of them on every hill top will be a different matter.

Jac o' the North said...

Anyone who thinks there'll be a jobs spin-off from wind turbines is kidding themselves. This is because more and more people realise that they are useless, expensive and ugly. Soon the politicians will have to admit it and cut out the subsidies. Without the subsidies there'll be no turbines. So there may be jobs after all . . . in dismantling the damn things.

Anonymous said...

I live quite near to the line leading from Carno windfarms to Newtown.
I could arrange for all the people who say that turbines dont produce any power to borrow a long alloy pole that I have and they could touch the cable to prove what they say is right - or wrong !!

Anonymous said...

Glyn can be first in line for that one. might knock a bit of common sense into him!!!

Anonymous said...

I love Wales, I am not a land-owner, and I would be proud to see Wales move with the dire energy needs of the times towards a clean & safe renewable source; instead of being saturated in Nuclear radiation, choking in Coal dust etc..
We ought to know better. This is something to look on the landscape and thank god we are not amongst the ignorant.
Would you prefer something on the landscape or have something in your lungs growing into a tumour, just because you cant 'see it'?
Renewables are safe and sustainable, I dont see how 'a blott on the landscape' arguement can compete with the sanity of the simple logic.

Anonymous said...

It worries me that people are so ignorant when it comes to windfarms, when are they going to get it into their thick heads that these are never going to replace nuclear?!! As for nuclear causing cancer, so can living near pylons!! If these turbines produce the electricity that they'd have you believe, then there are enough in Montgomeryshire to supply the whole of Wales so why should we have any more.As for having a new DGH in Llanidloes, what planet is this person on, our health services in Montgomeryshire are being depleted, so that's never going to happen so dream on.

Anonymous said...

it worries me that so many people are ignorant about the importance of renewable energy and the benefit it can bring to an area such as this.

in the 70's, people were protesting about mid wales becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste. Now they are protesting about an infrastructure that is needed to connect renewable energy to the national grid. Shall we just build a nuclear power station near berriew and be done with all this claptrap?

Paul Davis said...

I am glad to read that some people doubt the wisdom of wind turbines. My most enduring memory of the past two winters - amongst the coldest on record - are of views of beautiful snowbound Welsh countryside full of stationary wind turbines, delivering not a volt. Completely useless when needed most.

Anonymous said...

A PROJECT SPONSORED BY GREED SUBSIDIES AND DELUSION. NG are not following due diligence the consultation process is wholly unfair, it is pitting community against community and in any case all those along the Cefn Coch route have not had a chance to get an act together yet. Also any number of consultation forms can be taken and misrepresented, a form of bogus election if you will. THIS IS TOTALLY OUTRAGEOUS ! and makes the entire excercise bogus.

Anonymous said...

what is wrong with subsidies? this is a flawed bandwagon to jump on.
without them this country would be a barren land full of unemployed. either that, or you would be paying sky high prices.

subsidies are given out but they do not sit in someones bank account. they are ploughed back into the land or rather the economy.

Glyn as an ex-farmer will tell you this!

you think subsides don't benefit us all here just because we do not get a check through the post? Think again!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't mistake farming subsidies with pylon subsidies they are very very different, subsidising pylons is blatant desecration where they ruin peoples lives

Anonymous said...

According to the Sunday Times editorial comment column April 3rd.

The Govt is about to make it much easier for the NG to traverse areas of outstanding natural beauty with pylons whilst simultaneously removing any requirement to underground them. Should keep the bunny hugging renewable delusionists happy !

Anonymous said...

well we voted for them so we can't complain. oh hang on, we had the wool pulled over our eyes didn't we!

Anonymous said...

The health risks to the unfortunate folk who will have to live beneath these monster pylons cannot be underestimated! EMF produced by the cables do cause Cancer, why should our lives be put at risk to carry on this easy money making foolish industry.
Unite and fight for our heritridge before its distroyed for ever.

Anonymous said...

I understand that each of the turbines will stand on a concrete slab the size of a football pitch. Until now, livestock have been able to graze right up to the base of the turbines, but with the 400foot ones, this will be impossible, and the closest cattle will graze will be to the perimeter of the concrete slab. As hundreds of these blinking things are going to be built what will happen to the 'run-off' from the concrete?? I don't think anyone has thought of that, and if 'they' have then 'they've' kept quiet about it. Then there is the aspect of huge vortexes being created by the turbines. They also create 'cloud', and when it is windy, the effect for people further away from the turbines, will be similar to that of a hurricane or typhoon. I expect that will be blamed on 'climate change'.

Anonymous said...

myths myths and more myths.

The process was there with the public consultations to put forward your case why you want underground cables, but you all had the wool pulled over your eyes and went barking up the wrong tree. We saw the same thing happen with the "schools that powys were going to close" lie.

No amount of protesting will reverse any decisions made now. The government will see that this project goes ahead. The truth is out there if you look for it

Anonymous said...

Assuming then that this thing is coming and is not stoppable. The only logical route option is "purple south" It is shorter, cheaper, more direct, mostly out of the flood plain, passes fewer schools,fewer people, could be easier to underground, and most importantly it shares the blight equally, being half in England and Half in Wales

Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe people seriously think all this campaigning is going to make any difference. The Labour government signed up to this agreement with the EU 10 years ago. Campaign to get us out of Europe and you might just stop more pylons and other 'brussels' led initiatives coming your way. Sign up to the 'people's pledge' site and ask your MP for the right to a EU referendum. Your country -your right to have your voice heard.

Anonymous said...

Labour's social engineering policies have meant increased population (non indigenous) result- increased demands for energy - go figure!