Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence

Written Evidence from Catrin Edwards

  I understand that the Welsh Affairs Select Committee is undertaking an Inquiry into Energy in Wales. I write to inform you of my grave concerns in relation to the Welsh Assembly Government's race to cover much of upland Wales with wind turbines, and Powys in particular.

  I live 12 miles south of Newtown, within TAN 8 Strategic Search Area C. TAN 8 is, as you know, a Technical Advice Note from the Welsh Assembly Government to be used as a guidance document for local planning authorities on how planning applications should be dealt with. Because it is advisory it cannot be mandatory yet it implies that there is a foregone conclusion that wind generation is the way forward in solving our energy needs.

  This particular TAN was published in draft form in July 2004 and although certain organisations were circulated, Community Councils were not sent copies thus preventing consultation with local people. As a Community Councillor myself, I find this lack of democracy appalling. Now TAN 8 is published, Planning officers and County Councillors, regardless of their statutory duty to preserve the countryside, are expected to rubber stamp the proposals. Further, Carwyn Jones AM, WAG Minister for Environment, Planning and the Countryside said, when interviewed by the Powys County Times earlier this year, "There is no legal provision for a public inquiry." WAG is disregarding public opinion and pressurising Councillors to do the same.

  The understandable concern about global warming is shared by us all, but it will not be solved by industrialising rural Wales with giant wind turbines and the accompanying infrastructure. Some of the reasons why wind farms are not the answer can be summarised as:

    —  supply of energy is unpredictable, depending on whether the wind is blowing.

    —  need to keep existing power stations functioning due to the unpredictability of wind.

    —  extremely costly to produce compared with other forms of energy production.

    —  the number of turbines required to replace one power station is put at 500 thus causing widespread visual disturbance.

  The technical considerations will I am sure be covered by others who are more knowledgeable than myself but the result of this reliance on wind power will be the destruction of large areas of some of the most beautiful parts of Mid Wales. One of the Assembly Members for this area told me just two days ago that there are 30 planning applications for turbines ready for submission in Montgomeryshire—unfortunately I do not know the number for Radnorshire. The result of such a proliferation of wind farms, grid connections and access roads would be catastrophic to the environment. Our countryside would never be the same again. Tourism, which this area of Radnorshire depends on, would be affected. There would certainly be very little employment for local people—the large site at Llandinam employs just two maintenance workers.

  WAG seems to be making little effort to invest in other technologies available such as biomass, photo-voltaic technology, tidal stream, wave power and tidal barrage so that these may be developed commercially. It should also do more to encourage Welsh companies, the public sector and the Welsh people to be more energy efficient. Both WAG and the Select Committee must consider Nuclear Power stations as the way forward.

December 2005

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