Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence


Supplementary Written Evidence from David H Insall

INQUIRY INTO ENERGY IN WALES—SUPPLEMENTARY SUBMISSION BY D H INSALL

  1.  Further to my submission of evidence of 10 November 2005, I now submit further evidence relevant to Item 3.d., "wind farms", in view of a specific event which is strong collateral evidence to support the contention in my first submission that there has been corruption of the processes that are designed to ensure objective environmental impact assessments are carried out.

  2.  This in my view supports the contention that elements of the wind power industry are continuing to exploit the planning system in their pursuit of financial gain.

JOINT FINE-TUNING OF THE PLANNING PROCESS BY CONWY AND DENBIGHSHIRE COUNTIES

  3.  During recent months the two counties have commissioned consultants (Arup) to carry out fine-tuning of the boundaries of the Clocaenog Forest SSA "A", as recommended by TAN 8.

  4.  This resulted in a Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance published on the Denbighshire website but not released for public consultation at that time. The reason for this was that in their first appraisal the consultants had failed to address biodiversity issues in finer detail in accordance with TAN 8.

  5.  Messrs Arup were then asked to revise their evaluation to take non-statutory biodiversity conservation areas into account, with advice from the Countryside Council for Wales and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. This resulted in a revision of the earlier draft, which had included Mwdwl Eithin as a separate sub-zone of the SSA, but in the new draft was now excluded completely from the SSA.

  6.  The consultation closed on 17 March 2006 with the two counties now evaluating the responses.

DISTRIBUTION OF LEAFLET BY MESSRS NUON RENEWABLES LTD

  7.  On or around 24-25 March 2006 leaflets were distributed by Messrs NUON to postal addresses in the Cerrig-y-Drudion and Llanfihangel, including a "survey" form requesting details of respondents and giving a Cardiff Freepost address for return of the forms. Three pdf image files are attached to the e-mail covering this letter, scans of all or part of the leaflet. It announced presentations to take place at short notice in Cerrig-y-Drudion and invited recipients to put their completed "survey" forms in a box at the venue.

  8.  The attention of the Inquiry Members is drawn to certain aspects of the leaflet including the following:

    (a)  Blatant attempt to Bypass the Public Consultation Process. The wording of the leaflet includes the following:

    (b)  "Policy changes recently suggested by Conwy and Denbighshire County Councils might lead to local decisions on the proposal being discounted and to the planning application being rejected with applying the usual planning tests. NUON is opposing these changes and seeks local opinion regardless of what may happen at County level."

    Comment. Here we have a company, which has hitherto claimed to place environmental care at the top of its agenda in many letters held on record, now trying to destroy the work of the environmental agencies and those caring local people who wish to preserve the biodiversity of Mwdwl Eithin and its spiritual value as an outstanding historic landscape. What they wish to do is, in my opinion as an environmental consultant, nothing less than an environmental crime. Their agenda is to sell the soul of our cherished countryside for their obscene profits.

    (c)  False Statement of Emission Savings. A claim that the project will save 58,762 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide annually.

    Comment. This is so far from the truth that their apparently fraudulent claim is being reported to the Advertising Standards Authority. They have no business to claim displacement of coal-fired generation of electricity. It should be for mixed source generation.

    (d)  False Statements on their Website, linked to the Leaflet. Reference to their company website for further information. This website contains a number of misleading statements, including a serious mis-quotation of the views of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors on the impact of wind farms on property prices.

    (e)  Comment. This likewise has been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority, because of the seriousness of the misrepresentation of the RICS professional views, following their much-publicised survey amongst their members.

CONCLUSIONS

  9.  It has become clear that Messrs NUON's written assurances that they would not proceed with a development that impacted adversely on the natural environment of Mwdwl Eithin were worthless. Their environmental agents, said in writing by NUON to be "independent" consultants, have already been shown to have serious commercial vested interests as partners in the wind power industry. Thus NUON's environmental credibility has been totally undermined. Their prime motivation can be seen as profit at our expense.

  10.  It is worth noting as a footnote that just three months ago their parent company nv NUON signed an agreement with a major conglomerate in Spain to sell them the entire NUON wind farm stock in Spain. How long will it be before we see NUON selling a chunk of our beloved Welsh countryside to another foreign investor? Maybe just as soon as they get planning permission, if we fail to oppose it?

30 March 2006





 
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