Sunday, April 24, 2011

Where does the blame for wind farm 'Madness' lie?

Rather like a wind turbine after several days calm, this blog comes back to life. I suppose Easter Sunday is an appropriate day. And its the mid Wales turbines, pylons etc. that feature in this post - and some of the confusion about responsibility for it all. During the last few weeks, I've spoken at several public meetings, and pinned the blame on the National Assembly Government - and explained why. But not everyone was there,

For many years, there's been a drive to promote renewable energy by governments across the world, including the UK Government. It was, and remains entirely sensible that the Welsh Assembly Government should play it's part, even if the largest projects (nuclear power, Severn Barrage etc) remain a matter for the UK Government. Personally I'd not objected hugely to the odd onshore wind farm in mid Wales, though I'd long thought their inconsistency and huge cost raised questions about viability. (The scales fell from my eyes in 2005). But none of the above justifies the stunning landscape of mid Wales being industrialised. The decision to do this was taken by the Assembly Government in 2005 when it published an updated version of it's planning guidance to Local Planning Authorities, Technical Advice Note 8 (TAN8). The decision was communicated to the public via a 'statement' to the Assembly by then Minister, Andrew Davies AM - and welcomed by all party representatives, except me. I was opposed to the new version of TAN8 for two reasons - firstly because it was all about onshore wind farms rather than renewable energy, and secondly because it meant the destruction of the mid Wales landscape. I knew that TAN8 meant that which has now become much more widely understood. What we are facing (in the next phase of industrialising the mid Wales uplands) is 700/800 new turbines, a 20 acre substation, and about 100 kms of new cables, including a 400kv cable from the Newtown area to mid Shropshire, carried on 150' high steel towers.

Permission for the 400kv cable, and for wind farms over 50mw will ultimately be the responsibility of the Minister for Energy and Climate Change at Westminster. Permission for the substation and wind farms under 50mw will be responsibility of the Local Planning Authority, ultimately the National Assembly for Wales. But all of the decisions will be decided against the planning policy backdrop provided by TAN8. It's only by changing TAN8 that we have any real chance of preventing this madness destroying what many of us hold dear. That's why I think those who object should demonstrate their anger in Cardiff Bay.


the outsider said...

it is so important to have this debate about wind farms and to have it as a matter of urgency so that prospective candidates in the WAG election, can be questioned on their views and make them known to the public. I have posted a blog on the 'Druids' site today, concerning the impact of industrial scale turbines on tourism in Anglesey. But it's not just tourists that do not want to see massive turbines in the landscape. We taxpayers are subsidising the building of these 'white elephants' that currently produce less than 3% of our electricity. This figure was recently published as part of a Department for Energy and Climate Change report. There are apparently 3,168 turbines which contribute 1,141 megawatts to the national grid. Christopher Booker (Sunday Telegraph)worked out that the subsidy for these turbines,from the taxpayer (which we pay as part of our electricity bill) was nearly £1.2 billion. The amount of electricity produed is both unreliable and frequently not produced at all during the coldest weather when the energy is most needed. So gas powered stations will, apparently, need to be built as back-up!
Has anyone done a cost-benefit analysis to see if putting taxpayers money into marine current technology, for example, would produce power on a more reliable basis? And with marine current technology at least Wales stands a good chance of getting the jobs that will go with the research and development of that industry.

Anonymous said...

The false promises and planning disasters that affect this beautiful country leave a trail to the Assembly and the greasy power companies bank accounts.

Profit before people as usual, now they are taking our Country away from us, legally. If they steal our land by these obscene planning decisions, does that makes us as bad as them if we steal our Country back?

As usual, no one listens and no one cares, no wonder power companies can do what theyw ant in our country.

Anonymous said...

the blame lies with the intellectual and the enviornmental will to use cleaner energy which annoy those with financial interests in those with stakes in other energy sources

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, the buck stops with UK government.

Christopher Wood said...

Two word answer: Julie Morgan.

This sack of nuts wants a broken reservoir re-filled with over one million tons of water at elevation above a school and hundreds of houses.

L J Jenkins said...

Over 1500 people have protested angrily in a public meeting in Welshpool about a pylon line taking electricity from wind turbines in the Welsh hills of Clwyd and Powys , to North West England.
Well done Glyn Davies MP for highlighting this major desecration of Noth East Wales ! But,where have all these people been for the past seven years? The Welsh Assembly Government [WAG] deviously slipped out their TAN 8 wind energy proposals for Wales on an obscure WAG web-site on July 13th 2004 , then buried the bad news with the BIG news known as "The Bonfire of the Quangos " the very next day ! I remember phoning the BBC, ITV and half a dozen Welsh newspapers to inform them about TAN 8. None of them had even reported it !
They'd been well and truly mugged by the Welsh Assembly. Even Roy Noble , whom I phoned, had not even heard of TAN 8, and it included gigantic wind turbines from his home in Aberdare to the Vale of Neath, all across the Heads of the Valleys.
In Clwyd, North Ceredigion and Powys, there were to be four enormous wind farm zones covering dozens of square miles and comprising literally hundreds of gigantic 450 feet high wind turbines.
I have written Press letters non-stop for years since and for five years prior to 2004, in an attempt to alert the people of Wales to this desecration of their land. Where did the people of North East Wales think the electricity was going to be taken? They sat back and allowed TAN 8 to develop without a murmur. They did not protest over hundreds of 450 feet wind turbines desecrating their hills. Now they are up in arms about the essential 150 ft pylons that will carry that erratic electricity to England ! Bizarre !!
It's virtually too late to shut the stable door !! The horse is half way to Lancashire with its booty !! Shall we call it Black Bess ? It's being ridden by an English rogue ...........but it's owned and trained by a Welsh consortium called WAG !!

Glyn Davies said...

Outsider - greaqt comment. Its how so many of us feel. The only reason these turbines are being built is to pump millions into the pockets of develops, and let politicians pretend they are doing something. Its madness.

Anon 1 - Perhaps they won't listen, but we have a duty to the next generation to shout loudly and that they can hear us. We are going to do just that.

LJJ - At least you know where the responsibility for this 'criminal' vandalism lies.

Anonymous said...

At long last it appears the silent majority are waking up to the utter madness of both wind farms and the ugly, landscape destroying infrastructure, such as sub-stations, miles upon miles of power cables and their support pylons that are required to connect wind farms to the National Grid! It does not require too much grey matter to deduce that wind farms are the village idiot’s answer to an electrical power supply. To be sure, and as an example, the new 2000 MW gas (CCGT) power station in Pembroke will negate the need for a single wind generator in Wales, and the requirement for additional miles of pylon routes. Readers should be aware that two such gas fired power stations were originally planned for Pembrokeshire, but thankfully common sense has prevailed, and the second power station will be built in England closer to population density and demand. Nevertheless, such is the total lunacy we are having these ineffective wind monstrosities and their spider like network FORCED upon us all, with the ultimate obscenity of having to subsidise this undemocratic outrage in our ever increasing power bills. Thus it was intellectually satisfying to read of nearly 2000 protesters from Mid-Wales and Shropshire rallying at Welshpool to show their utter contempt at the way this total and unjustified nonsense is being imposed upon us all. The momentum must be sustained with more such protest rallies and letters to the press, so as to ram the message home to the exploitive developers and our so-called political representatives, that enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

Glyn - take a look at the following document, from the
National Symposium on
Future Electricity
Networks. It has a foreword by Tim Yeo MP, and I'll paste it here as I think it is relevant to us. This document was created in conjunction with Suffolk council :-

"The concerns of people about the proposed
reinforcements of the electricity transmission
network are very widespread and very deep.
This is not just nimbyism, these are decisions
that have an impact on the landscape for 50, 60,
70 years and what appears to be the assumption
from National Grid is that technology which was
considered appropriate 70 or 80 years ago is
sustainable, right, for the 21st century. I don’t think that’s a view that is very widely
held by the populations who are going to live with consequences of that."

We have learnt a lot about some of the alternatives. There have been serious
questions raised about the cost of these alternatives - which may be less than some
people have suggested in the past. I think there are some new technologies which
could be harnessed to advantage."

I personally also have a real difficulty understanding why, now that we realise we
have to move to low carbon forms of electricity generation (most of which are more
expensive than the old high carbon forms), we accept that the cost of the actual
generating process requires some sort of subsidy, but we do not yet accept that new
transmission capacity which clearly is needed should be treated in the same way.
There is a real irrationality there and I and the other MPs are concerned about this
and we are very grateful to work in close cooperation with our colleagues in local
government as well.
There is an opportunity, given that we are going to renew or increase a lot of our
transmission capacity, to do so in a 21
century, sustainable way and it will be
scandalous if some convoluted regulatory structure, or the short sightedness of the
companies responsible for this, means we fail to do the right thing by the next three
or four generations. The concerns exist, the alternatives exist, the opportunity is now
with us and I hope that all of us make sure we seize this very real opportunity."

Also, a summary says :-

“if we get this right, the legacy we will leave future generations is
one where a vibrant economy is powered by a secure energy
system that thrives in a beautiful landscape. That is a legacy to
strive for, and for us all to be proud of.”

The web address is

I think that this document should be read, it seems to be very relevant to our fight. Remember, this is not a group of activists that have written this, this is an MP and a council. Maybe you could have a word with Tim Yeo ?

Tony Dunn

Bril said...

Saw on the news tonight that they have spent thousands burying cables and removing pylons to improve the appearance of the Pembroke coastline. In Powys they are proposing to spend millions destroying the appearance of our beautiful countryside. It is wrong. Very wrong.

Anonymous said...

I'm am more and more appalled and ashamed of my fellow countrymen when I read this kind of thing.

After many years research it is clear that onshore wind is the cheapest most effective form of renewable generation.

Decarbonisation of ours (and the rest of the worlds infrastucture) will involve some peronal sacrifices from all of us, particularly those of who live in the long industrialised countries, and are the most repsonsible for causing climate change.

Global emmissions need to peak by 2016 (maybe even sooner). To delay this is to condemn vast numbers of people across the world to hardship, desertification, famine and possible death.

To oppose the most effective forms of renewable energy, is pure selfishness.

Tobi said...


when you say that you objected to TAN 8 because it is "all about onshore wind farms rather than renewable energy", what other form or renewable energy are you proposing should power the energy to power the country?
Hydro power? There simply aren't enough suitable sites in Wales to make an impact.
Solar Photovoltaics (PV)? Much more expensive than wind, and on its own not enough, even if you cover every roof.
Offshore wind? Currently more expensive than onshore wind...

And when you say you worry about "the stunning landscape of mid Wales being industrialised", do you mean that the Welsh landscape should be turned back into its natural, pre-industrial state - which was woodlands, not the green fields we see as a result of heavy industrial use, farming?

And when you worry about the "industrialisation" of the landscape being financed by subsidies, do you mean the vast amount of agricultural subsidies that pay for this industrial activity which has so completely changed the face of the Welsh landscape?