Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence

Written Evidence from C Rees

  I am very concerned about the proliferation of wind turbine applications for Wales. Up to recently, we had aver 30% of the UK's turbines while we only represent 5% of the population. There should be a moratorium on wind applications so that proper debate can be undertaken.

  Wales exports half of its electricity.

  We could lead the world in wave and tidal energy technology .


  The Government could halt this planned desecration of our landscapes by removing the enormous subsidies available to developers: This money would be better spent on tidal and wave energy schemes. Since 1966, the big tidal power station at LaRance on the Normandy coast has been producing 240 MW of energy with its 24 turbines.

  Many of our rivers often carry more water than they can accommodate, so why not exploit this?

In 1998 the Government said that the power from the sun by solar photovoltaic energy was greater than the then total electricity demand for Britain. Much more research is needed into making the storage of solar energy more efficient and Sharp, the Japanese company seems to be close to a breakthrough.

  Clean coal technology should have more investment and this could be exported to developing countries to help them reduce their emissions, especially as China is using more than a third of the world's coal. This form of helping to reduce CO2 emissions could help far more than building thousands of wind turbines.

  The manufacture of the aluminium castings for wind turbines is very polluting/to produce just one ton of aluminium consumes 2,000 kw/hrs of power. Each turbine requires foundations of more than 1,000 tons of concrete which is also very polluting. These foundations that remain in the ground forever could destabilise ancient water courses and this would be disastrous considering the flash floods we are already experiencing these days and will continue to experience.

  Many applications are targeting huge areas of common land and precious peat bog areas and this should not be allowed.

  This wind industry has the potential of dividing once close communities by bribing some neighbours to give up their land to developers whilst having little regard for the way these turbines would affect those around them—for 25 years and more.

  The consequences of this horrendous industry is not explained to the people .A turbine area is regarded as blighted, properties devalued by 20% or more, some people are adversely affected by the infra sound emanating from turbines, and the visual impact is unacceptable. Very few people realise that their energy bills will soar once more and more of this turbine energy gets into the system and little are they told that they will be paying for these massive subsidies that are given to this industry. The DTI insist that a higher and higher percentage of energy is bought from these renewables, which at the moment spells wind power.

  All the renewable industries should be represented in equal number on the Board of the DTI because at the moment it seems that the wind turbine enthusiasts far outnumber all the others.

  We desperately need a moratorium on this wind energy.


To provide energy?

    —  The least reliable form of renewable generation. Tidal power needs to be developed and needs investment. There are other, more effective and less costly to the consumers type of generating energy such as micro combined heat and power and solar power.

    —  This type of intermittent power is incompatible with the needs of the electric supply system

    —  Makes us more reliable on imported gas especially once coal is rundown and the aged nuclear is closed.

    —  Only operated unpredictably last year for 24.1% of the time

    —  EON a wind farm research from Germany says the impact on the local grid is very serious. The German grid system is adversely affected by wind energy.

    —  Intermittent and inefficient

    —  We waste 30% of our energy

    —  A very large amount of energy could be saved by using better insulation in our homes and using low energy bulbs. Even insulation in new homes is not properly inspected or monitored.

    —  This energy costs three times more than conventional energy source in capital cost per MWh. (Paul Golby Powergen CE) Why is it necessary to hide this ROC (reneweable obligation certificates) which almost trebles payment to the wind power merchants? This will be taken from all electricity bills/from the consumers.

    —  Many coal—fired plants which produce a massive 30% of our energy will be shutting down over the next 20 years. Those who think that giant wind turbines are going to fill the gap are not thinking straight and don't understand the limitations of wind.

    —  The German E.ON Netz say that for back up, traditional power stations with capacities equal to 90% of the installed wind power capacity is needed to be permanently online.

    —  Spain experienced two "brownouts" when wind power failed across the country in periods of peak demand—on 1 March and 21 June, so Spain is now building a huge number of gas fired power plants and the government now wants to reduce the subsidies to wind power.

To reduce CO2 emissions?

    —  The West Danish generating company ELSAM is now on record as saying that the international showcase in West Denmark does not save CO2 emissions (evidence in an official power point display) The Danish Wind Energy Association for the Danish Government admits that increasing wind power does not decrease CO2 emissions.

    —  With 1,043 turbines already in the UK we only save one thousandths of CO2 emissions.

    —  Even if we were to reach the 10% target by 2010, which we clearly cannot, the CO2 saving would be equivalent to just 0.0004 of world human emissions (DEFRA—DTI figures). And, if we add to this the massive tropical deforestation and destruction of peatlands, (which store huge amounts of CO2)—in SE Asia and other areas, then this figure would be more like 0.0002 or less.

    —  We are a post industrial nation, therefore producing less emissions— cf the USA responsible for 36.1% of global emissions, and refusing to join, and Russia 17% of global emissions , considering ratification in order to gain trading deals and becoming a member of WTO China, India, Australia and Saudi Arabia refusing to join. And why is this government giving huge subsidies to China's coal industry?

    —  The New Electrical Trading Arrangements (NETA) that started in 2002 obliged the National Grid to buy the cheapest coal. David Milborrow, BWEA's energy consultant said that NETA had caused more CO2 emissions than wind had saved. In 2003 and 2004 there were increases in emissions as power generation had turned to cheaper but dirtier coal.

   And is aviation set to treble? 86% increase in air pollution since 1990 and a 56% increase in freight since 1990.

  The 1,000 plus Boeing 747s in flight simultaneously, world wide, emit a total of over 400,000 tonnes of CO2 daily. Three years ago the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution warned that "by 2050, air transport, unless curbed, will be one of the principal contributors to climate change by human activities."

  We have seen the unveiling of the A380 Airbus, the world's largest airliner and this aircraft is only 13% more fuel economical than a Boeing 747. Emissions from aircraft are twice as harmful to the atmosphere than emissions at ground level. Air travel produces 19 times the greenhouse gas emissions of trains and 190 times that of a ship. All this makes a nonsense of global warming targets. (The Independent Sat. May 28/2005)

  Stanstead is to have another runway which will inevitably increase pollution The Royal Commission on Environment Poll has said air travel will be the largest source of CO2 by mid century.

  A still more ambitious target was slipped into last year's Energy White Paper (DTI Our energy future—creating a low carbon economy), to cut CO2 emissions by "some 60% from current levels by 2050". Even meeting these ambitious

targets will have no real impact on global greenhouses gases. Man made emissions of CO2 are a small proportion of the total (under 5% on some estimates) and the UK's share is modest—2% and one tenth of this for Wales. (Welsh Consumer Council)

    —  October 2004 DEFRA issued a statement saying that U.K industry could increase their CO2 emissions by 7.5% in the next three years. Are they beginning to realise that this 10% target is not achievable and is going to cause our industries to be less competitive , something that the CBI has been warning the government for a very long while.

    —  There are far better ways of reducing CO2 into the atmosphere eg carbon capture where power stations pump back CO2 into the porous rocks underground. Clean coal technology could help to expand the coal industry without contributing to global warming. By exporting this technology, especially to developing countries like China which is using one third of the world's coal, we would make a real impact on global warming. Clean Coal Technology at its most advanced can offer Intergrated Gasifiication Combined Cycle electricity generation In Wales, we have at least a 50years worth of identified coal reserves.

    —  If housing is to be part of reducing CO2 we should be using micro combined heat and power. There are no real policies in place to promote this. Also , it has been reported that the many insulating schemes that have been put in place in the building of new houses are not being met, that the inspection system is at fault and that enforcement is missing.

  The conclusion is that there is little, if any benefit to Britain or the world in struggling to meet these carbon targets by plastering the country with wind turbines. There are far better ways of reducing CO2 emissions. Changes in British generated anthropogenic greenhouse gases are far too small to have a significant impact on global warming, which in any case may be a good, bad or neutral thing for us with our temperate climate and ability to adapt. So why have these wind turbines??? Why indeed !!!


There is strong political backing for this wind power industry.

    —  Deliberate ploy to take away any local opposition. eg Prescott's PPS22 -any installations above 50 MW to ignore all local planning laws and to go straight to the DTI. Then WAG's TAN 8 to do the same thing. Is it true that a majority of the members on the Board of the DTI have wind power interests?

    —  No attempt made to inform the public/nothing on the TV etc.

    —  Where was the Public debate on TAN 8—was there even a full party debate on TAN 8 in the Assembly? This document has the potential of changing the face of Wales forever and of having a profound effect on the lives of the people and yet, most know nothing about it. An unprecedented number of letters of objections for any planning document,(1,800 letters) were sent in concerning TAN 8 and CPRW asked for a public enquiry but this was refused.

    —  No attempts made for public consultation.

    —  Not allowed to complain to the local councils until an application goes in and then they give us only 3 weeks to respond, study the Environmental Statement and to tell the public what is happening.

    —  These wind installations are imposed on us despite strong local opposition—look at Cefn Croes and Scarweather (the people of Cefn Croes in the Cambrian Mts wrote a book about their struggle to fight off the 39 massive turbines that were built in this most beautiful area of mid Wales—an area that should have been designated as a National Park— Scarweather, 3,100 letter of objections were received compared to nine letters for, and an independent Inpector recommended against the proposal and ALL were overthrown.) The opinion of the Welsh people was asked for but what did they do with it?

    —  Some Councils encourage wind farm proposals. Very often, local councils are forced to abandon their age old and trusted environment protection planning laws in order to pass a developer's application. Often local councillors are not competent to making a rational decision and some still believe that the choice is between nuclear and wind power. (A nuclear station of 1,500MW yields base load generation of 1,350 MW—we would need 2,250 gigantic 2MW wind turbines to match this) Here in Ammanford, our Town Council voted for an application despite the fact they had not read the mining report which was 13 pages long, that was placed in the Appendix of the developer's Environmental Report and made no enquiries about the mountain that is honeycombed with old mines, has an earthquake fault running through it plus another fault.

    —  Taking away our democratic rights in order to please the developers causes increasing dissatisfaction as more and more protest groups are formed all over the country .

Costs to the public/the rate payers and British Business

    —  Who picks up the cost of the devalued properties—20-30% for hundreds of homes in the immediate area? These power companies say they don't take into account the devaluation of our properties when making their plans. There is the proven Cumbrian case and more have followed—cases in Carmarthenshire where an estate agent has advised prospective vendors to reduce their prices by £45,000—for a typical three bedroom house if a turbine site is built near them.

    —  New relay stations have to be built for TV stations—who pays for this?

    —  What is the cost to the Tourism Industry, which, for Wales accounts for £2.5 billion a year and employs so many.

    —  We will have to pay three times more for this wind electricity.

    —  Will these turbines come down when other more efficient renewables are launched—and who will pay to dismantle them when the companies have disappeared with their loot?

    —  This industry is receiving 27 times the subsidy that coal ever received

    —  How do we regain the pasture rights, the food source if these are to be built all over the country?

    —  The cost in trying to reach government targets is enormous—according to the Office of National Statistics, environmental taxes amounted to nearly £34 Billion in 2003, over 3% of GDP. This is justified by the government on the grounds of protecting the environment. 67% comes from the duty levied on petrol and diesel. Then there are the climate change levy, further new "environmental" costs in the pipeline including the European Union's greenhouse gas emission trading scheme(ETS) which will result in companies having to purchase additional "emission allowances" if their emissions exceed Government—imposed allocations. All this will damage British business's competitiveness, and if they drive business from the UK to places like China or India, CO2 emissions will increase as these countries are less efficient users of hydrocarbon energy.

    —  Taxpayers will be subsidising this industry to the tune of £6.5 billion by 2010 and by £12.5 billion by 2015. In February 2005, the National Audit Office wrote, "the level of support provided by renewable Obligation is greater than necessary". The Commons Public Accounts Committee themselves complain that this is not value for money and that a carbon tax would be a far less complex way of reducing CO2. As consumers are providing this massive subsidy to the renewable industry, unlike public expenditure, this subsidy does not receive the annual scrutiny by parliament and this is unacceptable. This country is the most attractive place in the world to build turbines because of the huge tax breaks and other incentives.

    —  About a third of the funds given to this industry exceeds the support it needs.

    —  Already, firms are leaving this country because of the high energy costs and taking their factories elsewhere, no, not to countries with cheap labour but to countries like Belgium where the costs are lower. Concerned about the high cost of energy in this country, Alan Eastwood, head of Competition and Utilities at the Chemical Industries Association, told the Financial Times recently; "We can't live with prices 50% higher than our competitiors on the Continent. This is threatening the future of industry." We have problems with high energy costs even before this wind energy comes into the equation.

    —  In order to produce just a 2MW turbine machine, between 100 and 200 tonnes of steel has to be smelted for the tower and another 40 to 50 tonnes of steel for the nacelle at the top of the tower , plus a mix of metals like copper and aluminium to bring the total weight of the nacelle to 60 tonnes. Smelting is a very high energy process.

Cost to the environment?

    —  They take away our essential, could be life threatening, food source. These sites cover large areas of our uplands and common land where there might be hefted sheep and cattle. Wind developers minimise the effect of turbines on animals but there are many cases of cattle aborting near turbine sites and who would want to farm in such blighted areas? Once an area becomes marked as "industrialised" there is no going back.

    —  What devastation is caused by embedding these turbines in 1,000s and 1,000's of tons of polluting cement—the greatest polluter of all—effects of which reacts to the soil for years to come. These bases remain in the ground forever. Electric cables are buried deep into the ground and these remain there forever.

    —  Disturbing peat bogs in construction causes huge release of CO2. On any turbine site, one sees huge mounds of peat tossed to one side and just left to dry out. The destruction of the world's peatlands is contributing significantly to global warming, according to research presented to the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society (2/9/05)

    —  Massive environmental impact on birds, flora and fauna, and these are supposed to be protected by European laws. Habitat destruction is the single most important danger to wildlife. The entire ecological community is affected. Cefn Croes construction site is an ecological holocaust of some dimensions, which is now being visited and filmed from all over the world, a disgrace that this was ever passed by the then Brian Wilson of the DTI (

    —  Lines of pylons have to be built to connect turbines to the grid, causing even more disruption.

    —  Wide access roads are built to connect the turbines and often, developers quarry the very upland or plateau to provide the aggregate needed, adding to the devastation.

    —  These turbines have a massive visual impact. Proposals often go on the edges of constituencies and the cumulative impact is never considered.

    —  They destroy areas of scientific interest.

    —  Most of our uplands have prehistoric remains which should be preserved and not desecrated.

    —  In Germany, they call the turbines "bird slicers". In the Navarre region of Spain, a biologist studied the effects of turbines over one year on wild life and found that 6,000 birds, including golden eagles and 600 bats were slaughtered. This is repeated all over the world even along bird migratory routes.

Cost to people's health

    —  Harmful effects of audible noise and low frequency—studies at Salford University.

    —  GP Dr. Amanda Harry who works in Cornwall reported the low frequency noise is known to cause extreme stress to some people and she reported her cases in the House of Lords. Last research, seven years ago and should be reviewed every year but it has not been reviewed. The new 300 foot to 400 foot turbines are much larger than the existing turbines and their effects on human health should be studied. (see added notes.)

    —  Cause physical and psychological damage.

    —  Enormous stress on our farmers who could lose their livelihood after years of tending to their land and animals and keeping the balance of nature and especially after having gone through the disastrous foot and mouth episode.

  Is plastering our countryside with these environmentally damaging turbines going to alter or have any effect on the climate???

  Is this wind industry far too high a price to pay for by the consumers ???

  Are these wind turbines going to produce enough energy to fill the gap left when our coal stations, at present providing us with 30% of our energy, are closed down in the next two decades???

If the thousand or so turbines at present in existence are providing us with only four thousandths of our energy, then clearly this proves this is the wrong technology.

Wind Turbines and their effect on human health

  Onshore wind turbines are a health hazard to people living near them because of the low frequency noise they emit, according to new medical studies. Dr Amanda Harry, a GP working in Cornwall, who presented her findings to the House of Lords said that some of her patients demonstrated a range of symptoms from headaches, migraines, nausea, dizziness, palpitations and tinitus to sleep disturbance, stress, anxiety and depression. These symptoms had a knock on effect on their daily lives, causing poor concentration, irritability and an inability to cope."

  Dr Harry said that low frequency noise induces headaches and anxiety attacks and could cause disturbed sleep at even very low levels. She said it travels further than audible noise, is ground-borne and is felt through vibrations and some people have to leave their homes to get away from the nuisance. Despite their obvious suffering, little is being done to relieve the situation and people feel their plight is ignored.

  Conservative peer Lord Dixon Smith urged ministers to investigate a study that showed that 93% of people living close to wind turbines had been adversely affected, with some having to move house to get away from the problem. Lord Dixon Smith said that Denmark had ceased building new turbines, in part, as a consequence of health concerns.

  Dr. Harry explained that this problem was happening all over the country.

  Another doctor, Dr Bridget Osborne from Moel Maelogan, A village in North Wales where three turbines were erected in 2002 has presented a paper to the Royal College of General Practitioners detailing a "marked "increase in depression amongst local people. She says there is a perception that wind power is "green" and has no detrimental effect on the environment but these turbines make low- frequency noise that can be as damaging as high -frequency noise. She said that Wind power developers measure the audible range of noise but never the infrasound measurement-—the low frequency noise that causes vibrations that you can feel through your feet and chest, This frequency resonates with the human body—their effect being dependant on body shape. For some, she said this is incredibly disturbing.

  A Dr Stephen Briggs, an archaeologist living in the village of Llangwryfron in West Wales says that once the turbines near his home started operating, he couldn't work in his garden any more as the noise was unbearable and described it as if someone was mixing cement in the sky. After four years of frustrated appeals, he and his family had to leave their home of 17 years. House prices near to wind turbines have also plummeted.

  Mark Taplin, who has lived close to wind turbines near Truro in Cornwall for almost a decade said it had been a miserable, horrible experience. He says they are only 440 metres away from him, that they grind one down, you can't get away from them , make you very depressed—the chomp and swoosh of the blades creates a noise that beggars belief.

  The results of a Mori Poll and research commissioned by the National Trust confirms the countryside provides essential emotional, spiritual and physical benefits to millions of people .According to the findings, "far more than 80% of adults visiting the countryside find that it is a vital counterbalance to the stresses of daily life, not an optional extra, but crucial to the quality of their lives".

  Low frequency noise permeating buildings and ruining the lifestyles of people is now being taken seriously by medical research.

  New research from the Dunlaw wind power station in Scotland has shown that the effect of noise and vibration from wind turbines, especially these new, larger turbines used today, is felt at a much greater distance than claimed by the turbine developers The Keele University researchers found that when turbines start to generate at low wind speeds considerable infrasound signals can be detected as far as 10 kilometres. Professor Peter Styles led the team from Keele University.

  This study is backed by a recent study by acoustic experts at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Denmark and Germany are now at the forefront of serious research into the detrimental effects of wind turbines In some cases they cause psychological problems, heart rhythm irregularities and depression.

  Professor John Ffowcs Williams, professor of engineering at Cambridge University and a world expert on acoustics and noise reduction has said that the regulations as they are, are outdated and in ways inadequate and that it is known that modern, very tall turbines do cause problems and many think the current guidelines fail adequately to protect the public.

  The present government research available was done on much smaller turbines than those used today.

November 2005

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 20 July 2006