Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence

Written Evidence from Janet Haworth

  I am writing to the Select Committee because I feel desperate about Npower's planning application to site the 8th largest off-shore wind factory in the world in our beautiful bay.

  The Select Committee on Welsh Affairs has been considering Welsh energy policy and I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you about the Npower proposals because I believe the proposals illustrate serious flaws in the government's energy policy as it is being applied in Wales.

  A year ago if asked I would have expressed a preference for wind power over nuclear or carbon based energy generation. I have changed my view because my understanding of these issues has been changed by knowledge.

  The knowledge that wind power is far less efficient or economic than is being claimed by the developers of wind factories. An understanding that if the UK is to be able call upon its own energy resources then nuclear will be part of that provision. The realization that wind power generation has negligible impact on the level of CO2 emissions.

  I am disappointed that government has not incentivised local councils to promote responsible energy policies. For example national awards for local authority buildings that meet energy conservation targets and maximize opportunities for re-cycling. A review of building regulations to insist on energy conservation features in all new builds. Better public transport and support for research and development into tidal power and the exploitation of biomass. These latter ideas have less impact on our environment than wind factories.

  The evangelical rush for wind power has resulted in Wales having 50% of the UK total number of wind turbines while having only 8.5% of the UK land mass:

  "Wales is becoming the dumping ground for the UK's wind turbines" (1)

  This is what happens when democracy is silenced. When TAN 8 was formulated no debate was permitted in the Welsh Assembly. Cumulative impact as a valid reason for objecting against the development of wind factories has been removed and this has encouraged developers such as Npower to place before the DTI their outrageous proposals for the last stretch of heritage coastline between here and St Bee's Head in Cumbria.

  We already have 30 wind turbines off Prestatyn some 14 miles off our heritage coastline and they currently intrude upon our bay on clear days. Consent already exists for Rhyl Flats which will bring 30 larger turbines much closer into the bay. These will further erode the sea scape views currently enjoyed by visitors . The well established residential areas of Rhos-on-Sea and Colwyn Bay will be adversely affected by this development. Not satisfied with this and doubtless attracted by generous government grants Npower has submitted a third proposal to site some 200 of the largest turbines ever, in the bay. The visual impact will be to fence our bay with a wall of steel.

  Npower claim that there will be no impact on tourism and that the industrialized landscape which will result from their endeavours will attract tourists. Tourists do not visit industrialized sites in significant numbers. Hundreds and thousands of our visitors work and live in urbanized and industrialized locations in the Midlands and North of England and they come to Llandudno to escape that environment for a short while. Hotel rooms with a sea view attract a premium and year after year our town guide proudly displays our stunning promenade and the sea views.

  Llandudno is unique among the Victorian seaside resorts. It has survived largely intact because Mostyn Estates has been able to protect the original vision of the Victorian architects and engineers who have bequeathed us this wonderful town with its wide streets and elegant buildings. The Victorian crescent on the promenade has survived virtually in tact and unblemished by the usual planning disasters which have defiled other seaside towns. Llandudno has survived and continues to thrive because of the way it looks. It really is that simple. That is why people come here. That is why 18% of all bed space sold in Wales is sold here. Tourism supports a prosperous local economy which ripples out into Wales. We are a gateway to North Wales and further into Wales. The local tourist industry provides jobs and work for a multitude of small businesses which exist to serve the local tourist industry. Npower's plans will threaten that economy and they will deny to hardworking people from our Midlands and northern towns a delightful holiday resort which is accessible to them within two hours. With the new virgin train service from London many members of the local Hospitality Association report that they are now welcoming visitors from a wider catchment area.

  There are plans to extend our theatre and conference centre, developments to our popular shopping centre and the building of a new swimming pool. Llandudno prizes its Victorian heritage but not at the expense of sensitive developments which are in keeping with our town and its breathtaking and unique sea and mountain setting.

  The placing of any more wind factories in our bay will threaten and put at risk the local tourist industry.

  The assessment made by Npower regarding the noise we are likely to hear from 260 wind turbines are unconvincing. They fail to acknowledge the impact on our town of the constant flickering of light when 780 blades are slicing sunlight.

  Most disturbing of all is their avoidance of any in depth analysis of the possible impact of massive and unprecedented engineering works on and around a natural marine sand bank, namely the Constable Bank. This feature provides a natural wave break when the sea is stormy. It is a vital resting place and feeding ground for marine life and sea birds. It is part of our natural flood defences.

  During the construction phase marine life and birds will be distressed and their feeding grounds endangered. The constant pile driving will be heard on-shore.

  People will say:

    "Llandudno is just not the same anymore."

    "What a pity, they allowed all those turbines to be put in the bay."

1 December 2005

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