Friday, June 17, 2011

The 'Listening' First Minister

Was driving home from Llandrindod when I heard the news. Almost drove through the hedge. Carwyn Jones, First Minister of the Welsh Government had issued a Statement on Planning for Renewable Energy in Wales - blowing the project to industrialise the uplands of Montgomeryshire right out of the water. He said "My Government could not support the construction of large pylons in mid Wales and my ministers are pressing this case with Nationl Grid Transmission and with Ofgem" - and he made special mention of Montgomeryshire. I promise never to be rude about Carwyn ever in my life again. Well not for a few days anyway.

Of course there were the crudest of smokescreens to cover the huge reversal in policy, but the important point is that he did the right thing - so there will be no churlishness from me. The people of mid Wales have begged and pleaded and persuaded Carwyn Jones to amend Tan 8, and help us save mid Wales from the sentence passed upon it in 2004. Just as David Cameron has done in respect of the NHS, Carwyn has recognised that his renewable energy policy needed changes, and he's had the courage to deliver.

Lets look at the cover, which is itself interesting. First is the tossing of the ball into the Westminster Government's court. For weeks I've been building up my campaign to persuade Charles Hendry, the Minister to publicly reject the National Grid 400kV connection from mid-Shropshire to mid-Montgomeryshire. It had been going well, and I was planning a big speech on July 19th. Now I will have a new message. Its not just the people of Mid Wales who are opposed - its the people of Wales. To approve National Grid's plans when every political party in Wales, the thousands of campaigners and the First Minister would make Tryweryn look like a vicarage tea party. I will be asking National Grid to abandon its plans forthwith.

The second lovely strategy (which I really enjoyed) was to claim that there's a danger of Westminster imposing large wind farms on mid Wales, and that the responsibility should therefor be transferred to the National Assembly - supposedly to save us. Laughed when I read that. The main reason these wind farms were proposed in the first place was Carwyn's TAN 8 policy guidance. But lets be done with this churlishness. Today has been a great day, and I genuinely feel for the first time that the Powys protesters have a great chance of pulling off a spectacular victory.


frankie said...

This is good news indeed, and a glimmer of hope for us in Montgomeryshire.

I must draw your attention though to another potential blight on our landscape, and that is the flurry of planning applications for single turbines on individual farms. Now I have no problem with this in theory as long as the turbines are small and unobtrusive. But two of our neighbours have put in for planning for 2 turbines (one on each farm - less than a mile from each other)single turbines,35 metres tall with 9 metre blades - total 44 metres. One of these is going to tower over our home - not even in sight from the applicants farm. Now, if these applications are granted, we will see dotted about our countryside a proliferation of huge turbines, which once again is out of place and unacceptable in my view.

Why can't these farmers think along the lines of PV panels on their farm buildings, or in their fields, causing no offence to anyone, costing less than half the cost of the turbines, and are more efficient and reliable?

The issue of wind turbines have for the last 20 or more years, caused more upset and division amongst neighbours, friends and families than just about anything else.

Anonymous said...

Oh c'mon Glyn, you cannot blame WAG on TAN 8- why did they have to create them in the first place?

Anyway I completely agree with what Carwyn has done, surely this will put the UK Gov in an impossible position. But just in case, to protect us I hope the power is devolved to us.

Unfortunately though Glyn there are still plans for something similar up in the North. Again I hope Carwyn can come out against this so that the beauty areas of Wales (which are important for tourism) do not get blighted.

As for the principal of wind power, it is not NIMBYism I just don't agree with it at all. They're inefficient and ugly. I drove passed a off shore wind farm this week when there was wind- were the turbines moving? No.

Why can't we ditch these things and embrace powerful supplies like wave?

Tony Dunn said...

Glyn, looks like we need to start lobbying Westminster now, to support your efforts there. Do you have any suggestions on how we could go about this ?

Bril said...

Agree with Tony. The people will do everything we can to support you, Glyn, just tell us how.

Bril said...

Emphasising CUP's point "We also need to still be pressing for a full review of TAN 8, as even if these new lower targets go ahead it still means 145 x 2mw turbines in SSA B Carno North and 35 x 2 MW turbines in SSA C Newtown South. This will still have huge traffic implications, visual and noise amenity loss, tourism loss and lots and lots of 132KV lines and pylons running past many many villages. See our website for all the details of the planned wind farms at". In the setting in which they will run, 132kV pylons will be as monstrous as the large 400kV pylons which tend to run in more open country.

Maggie McPhee said...

Thank you for your leadership on the windfarms/pylons protest. Your latest blog sheds light on what can seem like a murky, confusing labyrinth of burocracy to us individuals who only want the voice of reason to be listened to. Now, we know there is a chance, if we work hard enough that we may make a difference.

Anonymous said...

agree with Maggie; this issue shows how odd devolution is. Why can't one area be done by the Assembly and another by London; having policies made between the two of them is just too complex.... and ultimately it allows them to shift blame.

On this issue alone, I now have more confidence in the Assembly.

And anyhow; I read somewhere that Wales produces 3x as much energy as it needs. Why do WE have to take the power plants and ugly windfarms and not somewhere like the lake district? Why cant our Assembly just say "we've got enough, no more windfarms, no more nuclear power and so on?"

Anonymous said...

... that saying comes to mind: “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.”

So I will wait 'to see you see'.

I have no confidence whatsoever in the Welsh Assembly Government with regard to which the cabinet is chosen (insanely) from such a small pool of 'talent' as to make the constitution of said cabinet as stiff as a wet tea bag.

Over a decade 'in" and Welsh Labour have failed to deliver a Welsh economy beyond a pathetic economy that bounces feebly along proximate to the bottom of the UK economic league tables, a cabinet that has failed miserably to exploit one of its top assets: Welsh IP as evidenced by the pathetic issued patent rate of most of its universities.

Chris Wood

Ann said...

Well done, Glyn on behalf of us all. Let`s hope that this news will prove positive for us all.

Emyr said...

Don't be fooled by Carwyn Jones's apparent concern in his recent statement.

As long as the wind turbines on Forestry Commission Wales (FCW) managed lands produce electricity, WAG will get a revenue stream from these wind farms. CJ's he won't care if National Grid have to pay extra to bury the cables so long as WAG gets an income stream.

CJ drafted TAN 8 in 2005. It was deliberately ambiguous and misleading from the start - it allowed for the building of wind farms outside the SSAs, and for a 5 km expansion zone around each SSA boundary which were imprecise to start with.

Personally, I see no glimmer of hope from CJ - I do not trust him. The only hope I see is from the rapidly growing swell of public opinion against the idiotic policy of reliance on wind power (allegedly to help reduce CO2 emissions) without assessing our energy usage first.

At that time onshore wind targets were 1120 MW. In 2010 they were 2931 MW and in 2011 the target is 3066 MW. Through the TAN 8 policy, developers are gleefully farming subsidies - not the wind.

Steve said...

So this is now all down to the Tories in Westminster. Hopefully your own party will deliver Glyn. If not then it will only be the Tories here to blame.