Written Evidence from Roger Sheppard
I make the following submission as an individual.
I have no connection with any lobby group or formal organisation.
I am in contact with many people from across the length and breadth
of Wales, within the broader United Kingdom, Europe, and other
countries worldwide. I am not employed by a pressure or lobby
organisation, I speak totally on my own behalf as one who wishes
to defend Wales from needless, ludicrous and unnecessary industrial
development. Development in our rural archaeological and historically
rich upland and wild areas are now showing recovery from the near
devastating exploitation of past administrations and pursuits
of profit driven by lust and market forces.
I fully agree and endorse the need for meaningful
and substantial alternative energy generation in order to ensure
that the vulnerability to climatic change is minimised for future
generations. I also subscribe to significant energy-saving and
energy-efficiency strategies provided that the benefits do not
outweigh or do not involve impacts, which would impinge on the
local populace having the pleasure of use and being enabled to
enjoy the richness of their local environment.
Tourism is steadily growing into a major contributor
to the economy and well-being of Wales. These new energy initiatives
must not diminish the ability of expanding the many tourism opportunities
presented with the prospect of the creation of meaningful employment
for our young people. We must always be fully aware that tourism
adds an average of some £6 million daily to the economy of
Wales. An annual income approaching £2.2 billion is not to
be ignored by our political representatives.
The daily demand on the National Grid for electrical
power by business and household consumers in Wales is approximately
1,700 MW. This requirement rises to around 2,000 MW at winter
peak. There are many signs that whilst commercial consumption
is stabilising and in some areas reducing, the demand for energy
in the domestic sector show a substantial increase in consumer
requirement. Although a massive overhaul of energy policy by Government
and the supply chain must be undertaken. Yet current figures show
Wales to be a net exporter of conventional and nuclear generated
The United Kingdom, although understood to have
significant oil and natural gas reserves is also a major energy
consumer in the European family. The UK is the largest producer
of petroleum and natural gas in the European community. Nevertheless,
after a long period of being a net exporter of both fuels, experts
predict that the UK will become a net importer of these vital
fuels by the end of the decade. Fresh reserves have not kept pace
with the development of existing fields. The reliance on fossil-fuelled
generation has historically been paramount in the United Kingdom.
We in Wales, historically and with our world standing in the production
of raw material along with a successful manufacturing sector,
relied heavily in the past, upon our considerable coal stocks
paying little regard to the Research and Development (R &
D) of enhancement technology. The obvious reason being there was
no identifiable profit in R & D.
The remaining stocks of fossil fuel are admittedly
diminishing, yet Welsh coal reserves remain at a credible 250
million tonnes. Some in Cardiff Bay would have it that these are
insufficient reserves and not worth exploiting. The statement
addressed to me as fact and proved after investigation disingenuous.
A rather large insufficiency to be ignored I would submit. I find
it hard to believe that Cleaner Coal Technology (CCT) would be
discarded in order that other less efficient and speculator driven
technologies be contemplated whatever the reward to the opportunist.
Clean Coal Technologies (CCTs) make possible
the use of coal in an environmentally acceptable and economically
feasible manner. They meet numerous regulations with regard to
emissions, effluents, and residues. In some situations, CCTs can
present the likelihood of satisfying even more stricter parameters
and at an acceptable cost.
Wales is crying out for meaningful, well-paid
employment, providing security to young families and above all
the dignity of independence from the social security benefit system.
The revitalisation of the coalfield will achieve this. Imagine
the effect that 10 new technology deep pits would have on the
stimulus of Welsh energy production, manufacturing potential and
the expansion of employment.
I accept the seriousness and urgency of the
need to address the issue of climatic transition but in a manner
that will not overburden localities. Especially those assessed
as being traditional areas of high volume mineral recovery and
manufacturing. Everyone has a part to play in producing the requisite
amount of new and technologically sound energy sources. My home
at Coed Hirwaun is but 2.5 kms from the mean high water mark of
the Bristol Channel. This coastline is witness to the world's
second highest tidal rise and fall. Many hundreds of billion tonnes
of energy filled seawater flow from the Atlantic Ocean and into
the Bristol Channel twice in any 24-hour period. Generation from
this source is of sufficient strength and reliability to not only
light but also give power to many homes and businesses around
the periphery and into the hinterland either side of the Bristol
Channel. This natural form of energy will cause minimal disturbance
to the environment and ecology, additionally causing little or
no long-term, needless distress to communities.
Unlike some other technologies such as wind
and to a lesser extent wave, both being weather dependent, tides
are based on the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun on
the Earth's oceans. Tidal patterns can be predicted far into the
future ensuring security of supply of reliable power production.
As water is 800 times denser than air, a tidal
turbine is significantly smaller than an equivalent wind device
attempting to generate the same amount of power. The tidal solution
involves deploying turbines in a sub sea environment with nothing
visible above the surface thus the environmental impact is minimal
and there is no interference with surface shipping. The blades
of the tidal turbine are slow moving (rotating at approximately
15 rpm) with minimal effect on marine life. Studies also show
that the turbine sites could act as a "harbour" for
marine life in a similar way that wrecks on the seabed support
a unique marine environment.
A particular system being developed known as
the Rotech Tidal Turbine (RTT) has significant advantages over
other tidal stream schemes. In the development of this technology,
the developer is focussed on ultimately generating electricity
for the commercial market at a commercially realistic target price,
in the region of 2.5p to 3.5p per/kWh.
Tidal stream energy is a particularly attractive
form of renewable energy because it is predictable; the technology
to be used is invisible from above the ocean's surface; it is
environmentally benign; it is built on existing technology systems
and procedures of other commercial sectors, including the oil
and gas industry (fabrication and installation). The technology
of tidal power is UK led and British driven. Reliance will not
be on redundant and cast off technologies from mainland Europe.
Port Talbot is the home of the worlds' most
technologically advanced 525 MW power plant. The system provides
the highest efficiency electricity production along with the lowest
levels of emissions from a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power
plant anywhere in the world on the Energy Park site at Baglan
Bay, Port Talbot. The most significant factor is the ability to
attract significant new investment to this region of South West
Wales and the creation of thousands of new jobs in the long-term
on the largest single area of industrial development land in the
UK. The system provides high efficiency electricity production
with low levels of emissions. The efficiency of the turbines is
said to be close to 60%, giving 30% savings on fuel bills. The
possible savings in energy are highlighted by the UK's requirement
of a climate change levy designed to discourage excessive energy
consumption. The power plant has one gas turbine, one steam turbine
and one electrical generator with an installed capacity of 480MW.
The plant shows a combined heat and power (CHP) resource, a heat
recovery steam generator (HRSG), steam supply systems with supplementary
heat recovery, "black start" (ie starting with no electrical
input) capability and connected ancillaries such as cooling towers,
a water treatment plant and supplementary steam supplies.
The site also includes an aero-derivative power
generation system that also has a black starting capability. This
is effectively a small, extra power plant.
The Baglan Bay project was welcomed by the local
authority and populace for the potential for regeneration and
employment it brought to the locality. Hundreds of temporary jobs
were witnessed during construction phase and a substantial number
of permanent jobs resulted.
In its current form, PV was developed in the
50s for the space programme. Photo-Voltaic Solar was prohibitively
expensive for commercial applications at the time.
However, during the 60s and 70s the potential
for use of solar energy for remote off-grid applications was recognised.
Increased production and improved manufacturing processes resulted
in lower costs and greater demand.
Although Photo-Voltaic Cells can be manufactured
from a wide variety of materials Hybrid PV combines Mono-Crystalline
and "Thin Film" technologies that produce one of the
most efficient silicon cells available. Yet the recovery on initial
expenditure has yet to prove to be commercially beneficial for
the household consumer in northern Europe. The systems are normally
custom designed to fit individual needs. An former service colleague
who, living on the south coast of England applied to his local
Liberal Democratic-led council for planning permission to erect
two PV Solar Panels in order that he could heat his household
water by these means. The application was refused because the
panels would not be within keeping of the ambience of that particular
Energy from water can be obtained in several
ways. The most successful of the possible techniques involves
using the kinetic energy obtained by water in falling large distances
to drive turbines and generators to produce electricity. Hydroelectric
power plants convert the kinetic energy contained in falling water
into electricity. The energy in flowing water is ultimately derived
from the sun, and is therefore constantly being renewed. Energy
contained in sunlight evaporates water from the oceans and deposits
it on land in the form of rain. Differences in land elevation
result in rainfall runoff, and allow some of the original solar
energy to be captured as hydroelectric power.
Hydropower is currently the world's largest
renewable source of electricity, accounting for 6% of worldwide
energy supply or about 15% of the world's electricity. The amount
of energy that can be generated in this way depends upon the volume
of water falling and the distance through which it falls. For
this reason, most hydroelectric stations are situated in mountainous
regions. At present in Wales some 1,700 MW of electricity are
generated by hydroelectric power.
The greatest restriction to extension of hydroelectric
power is the lack of suitable sites. Not only is it necessary
to find a site where water falls as far a distance as is possible
from the power station but also to find a site where, if possible,
rainfall maintains sufficient water in the reservoir to replace
that which generates the electricity.
I feel sure that every member of the committee
is aware of the Ffestiniog Power Station, the UK's first pumped
storage hydroelectric power station and situated on the shores
of Tan-y-Grisiau reservoir. I submit a masterpiece of engineering
and recycling technology that has been in commission for almost
half a century. Another example of hydroelectric generation found
in Wales is the so-called "Electric Mountain" or Eliden
Mountain and 20 year old Dinorwig power station near Llanberis,
close to the shores of Llyn Padarn subtly blending with the magnificent
backdrop of towering mountains and breathtaking scenery. The pump
storage system of producing electricity at Dinorwig relies on
falling water turning turbines. To put it simply, high-pressure
water enters the system from a high source at Marchyn Mawr, turns
the turbines and exits under low pressure into a retaining reservoir
at Llyn Peris. The whole generating complex is deep within Eldin
Mountain in a cathedral like cavern of massive proportions. More
than 10 miles of tunnels were constructed within the nucleus of
the mountain and transit tunnels constructed to Marchyn Mawr and
Llyn Peris. In order to contain the amount of water needed to
operate the turbines both lakes needed to be enlarged. During
full operation the water level will fall and rise 55 feet daily.
Llyn Peris was enlarged through removing large quantities of slate
quarry waste from the lake rather than by constructing dams at
both ends of the lake. The stream, Nant Peris, entering the lake
was diverted around it to enter the lower Llyn Padarn. When the
valves are opened and water falls from Marchyn Mawr there is an
enormous surge in pressure. To counteract this, another shaft
was built to a surge pond high upon the mountain.
Dinorwig can produce electricity (1,320 megawatts
of power) in 12 seconds, should a sudden surge in demand occur,
unable to be met by power stations already connected to the grid.
Most conventional power stations take 12 hours to start up from
cold and 45 minutes to switch to the grid if they are on "hot
standby" or "spinning reserve". If necessary, Dinorwig
can generate a continuous 1,680 megawatts for five hours.
When operating, the volume of water passing
through the tunnels at Dinorwig would supply the requirements
of London for a whole day. When the extra power is not needed
the turbines have a reverse capability and water is then pumped
back to Marchyn Mawr where, when the need arises it can be re-used.
We, the public have difficulty in recycling our plastic containers.
Which brings me to not only the most contentious
and divisive means of renewable energy generation but also the
most inefficient, that of on-shore wind power.
For some peculiar reason best known to themselves
many politicians and wind factory developers refuse to differentiate
between Installed Capacity and Yield. The Welsh Assembly Governments
TAN 8 asks for 800 MW Installed Capacity which, at a minimal load
factor of 30% as claimed in the small print by the British Wind
Energy Association (BWEA), would yield 240 MW maximum. The best
production figures I can access are those issued by a department
of government which show an average of less than 25% yield. Unfortunately
because of the intermittency of wind it will come in random dribs
and drabs. A considerable amount of the energy generated will
be at night when it is not really needed so this 75% inefficiency
rating will be seen to grow in magnitude.
Another fallacy generated by the wind developer
and his support is "If we don't have wind we will have nuclear"
this drivel has been uttered repeatedly in newspapers, radio and
television interviews and at countless public meetings. Solely
for economic reasons, the Installed Capacity of a new build nuclear
power station would probably be about 2,000 MW. Because of technical
constraints, nuclear is usually `base load' generation and is
rarely shut down except for predictable maintenance. It yields
about 90% of Installed Capacity. Thus the new build nuclear power
station would generate around 1,800 MW. Therefore in order to
displace a modern nuclear station there would be a need for 1,800
x 240 or 7½ times the TAN8 megawattage of 6,000 MW Installed
Capacity of wind-power ie 3,000 2.0 MW turbines. Reality and a
passing interest in basic mathematics will show a far greater
number of 400/500 ft wind towers would be required to achieve
the outage required. When there is no wind there would be no electricity,
so the conventional power stations would have to operate on "spinning
reserve" still producing CO2 and other emissions in order
to kick in when the wind drops. However, the wind not being predictable
there will be a lapse before the conventional power station runs
up to full operating capacity. At the very least there will be
a generation shortfall resulting in, if not blackouts "brown-outs".
Recollect the E.On statement with regard to the requirement of
at least 80% of "shadow power" to balance wind vagary,
even when it is only around 20% of total generation and you can
see just how ludicrous a proposition this is. Either these people
have green pea-brainsor they are part of a wicked conspiracy
to destroy our power industry and economy.
Wind power stations will never be "green",
the reality is that the unreliability and unpredictability of
wind makes it totally incompatible with the very real needs of
a modern society that insists receiving instant energy at the
flick of a switch. Are we in Wales really being asked to accept
that 10% of our power requirements are completely subject to whether
northern Scandinavia is under a high or low-pressure weather system?
In order to safeguard the security of supply whether on or off
shore, conventional fossil-fuelled stations have to be running
on line, expending resources and emitting the deadly CO2 gases
which then helps enhance climatic contusion. Our Danish and Irish
colleagues should be held continually in mind by misadvised ministers
and misguided officials of the catastrophic effects of reliance
on wind-generated energy. They, [the Danes] were forced to and
continue to buy nuclear generated energy from Sweden, who themselves
gave up on wind energy many years ago.
I acknowledge that topography and climate make
Wales and indeed the Celtic Fringe suitable for the development
of a multifarious selection of renewable energy projects. Coincidentally,
these qualities are precisely those that make our country so attractive
to a wide and diverse type of tourist, the horseperson, walker,
mountain-biker the family cyclists and the just plain nature lovers
all of whom we would wish to welcome to the unspoiled uplands.
However, I feel that our historical, religious and archaeological
heritage would be forever desecrated by this manifestation of
wind power stations. Is it truly inevitable that the unique beauty
of Margam Country Park amongst many other genuine treasures would
be irrevocably compromised and visitor numbers drastically reduced
by the industrialisation of the hillsides with power stations
and their attendant ancillaries, many hundreds of miles of transmission
lines? The erection of scores of additional pylons, the requirement
for large-scale excavation, transportation of plant equipment
and materials to sites. The intrusion by development into the
many footpaths and tracks crossing the wild and undeveloped areas
of the locality.
It has recently become customary for people
of the Anglican persuasion to join with other religious orders
to participate in pilgrimages. The highlands of south and mid
Wales are the routes of two holy pilgrimage routes stretching
from the east to the Cathedral city of St David's in the far south
west, what provision will be made for the preservation of this
and other examples of our ancient heritage or is it all to count
for nothing? Is it beyond the comprehension of those who choose
to call themselves our elected representatives that far from attracting
tourists, wind factories in fact deter the visitor, hence the
closure of so called wind-power visitor centres in East Anglia,
Cornwall and other locations within the UK and Europe? To give
a personal analogy, as a child of pre-teenage years I spent hours
on Port Talbot and other railway stations waiting, sometimes in
the cold and wet, for steam driven trains to come thundering by.
Suddenly I reached puberty and the rest, as they say, is history.
Environmental groups until recently used a Wales
Tourist Board (WTB) survey in which they claimed that 86% (they
like that figure) of those polled would return to Wales to view
the "pretty" wind turbines. Unfortunately for them,
being of an inquisitive nature I checked the facts with WTB. There
was no mention anywhere in that particular survey of wind appliances,
not even a tuba. The same organisations and wind developers on
other occasions have used the same tactic with Scottish figures
to support their backing of wind power generally, again to have
their figures discredited. The claim being yet again 86% of people
did not feel their visit disrupted by wind farms. These 18 people
were 43 miles from the nearest wind turbine. Unfortunately many
of these organisations do not accept the offer of good quality
and substantiated technical evidence in their pursuits, so as
a consequence they attempt to influence but not inform on the
veracity of their particular cause. If your product is as good
as you intimate surely you do not have to devalue the facts in
At Annexe "A" I present photographic
evidence of the destruction around the infamous Cefn Croes blunder.
It has also come to light that within the planning permission
agreement, there is no responsibility on the developer to fully
restore this site to its past glory. The planning arrangements
agreed by the Ceridigion County Council require only that the
turbines are removed off site on completion. So the 39 Olympic
swimming pool sized concrete bases remain, the roads remain and
masses of underground cabling and construction debris will remain.
So much for the "only true green means of renewable energy".
I would remind those concerned with the decision making process
of this inquiry, that the conclusion that this defilement was
to go ahead was made by a Minister of Energy in whose constituency
exists a nuclear power station, employing and supporting many
voters within his and neighbouring constituencies. We are given
to believe that wind power is nature's answer to nuclear generation.
Am I to assume that the minister concerned was the only turkey
on the farm to vote for Christmas??
I would like to finish this submission with
some extracts from the March 2004 edition of "Planning Policy
Wales" which sets out the objectives of the Welsh Assembly
Tourism is a major element in the
Welsh economy . . . tourism can be a catalyst for environmental
protection, regeneration and improvement in both rural and urban
The Assembly Government's objectives for tourism
To encourage sustainable tourism
in Wales, maximising its economic and employment benefits, . .
. encouraging its development in non-traditional destinations,
while safeguarding the environment and the interests of local
to manage change in the tourism sector
in ways which respect the integrity of the natural, built and
cultural environment to provide for economic growth, employment
and environmental conservation.
(Annexes not printed)
9 November 2005