Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence

Written Evidence from Conwy Locals Opposing Unnecessary Turbines (CLOUT)

  We would like to take this opportunity to comment on the current and future portfolio of energy provision in Wales as it relates to wind farms.

  Over the past four years the rapid expansion of speculative wind farm development within our area has been a cause of great concern and upset to many local residents. Indeed, our group was set up specifically to deal with wind farm applications within the county of Conwy. It consists entirely of local residents: busy, working people, who, with their own time and money, have fought vigorously to protect the environment in which they live. As such, we have had much experience at a local level on the issues surrounding wind farm development.

  In general terms, we would like to raise the following as points for discussion in relation to the Welsh Assembly Government's policy on wind power, with particular reference to Technical Advice Note 8:

    —  TAN 8 is too heavily biased in favour of wind farm development to the detriment of other less environmentally-damaging technologies.

    —  The inefficiency of wind turbines and the need for back-up power generation has not been adequately examined. The unpredictability of wind power results in little or no reduction in CO2 emissions and thus it is not clean energy in any true sense of the word. Indeed, CO2 emissions continue to rise each year and, to our knowledge, no power stations have been stopped or turned down because of energy substituted from wind turbines.

    —  Too little emphasis is placed on energy conservation and energy saving measures.

    —  In TAN 8 no account is taken of the impact of wind farm developments on tourism.

    —   No mention is made of the indirect subsidy received by the wind farm developers from Renewable Obligation Certificates and the cost which will ultimately be borne by consumers.

    —  TAN 8 proposes using heavily-forested areas which will ultimately mean the removal of trees which provide valuable CO2 sinks. Similarly, peat reserves play a valuable role in carbon sequestration but these areas will also be badly damaged by turbine bases.

    —  No mention is made of the potential for flash flooding on lower valley areas as a direct consequence of soil/peat displacement from wind turbine bases and associated tracks.

    —  No mention is made of the social disharmony caused by wind farm developments and the devastating, dividing effect this can have on small, rural communities.

    —  Environmental Impact Assessments are invariably written by wind-energy consultants and are thus biased in favour of wind power schemes. The visual impact of proposed developments and the effects on wildlife and local ecology are routinely played down. Energy outputs are exaggerated and incorrect efficiency factors are frequently used. Similarly, the Welsh Assembly Government did not seek impartial advice in the writing of TAN 8 but relied almost entirely on wind-energy consultants for its information.

    —  No mention is made, or the issue explored, of the possible harmful effects of low frequency noise and the impact on human health.

    —  No mention is made of the detrimental effect of wind farm developments on property prices.

    —  TAN 8 places undue pressure on regional Planning Officers ie. counties must produce their quota of so-called renewable energy, whatever the circumstances. Seemingly, no mitigating planning policies will be taken into account and Planning Officers are using TAN 8 as a justification for granting approval of often controversial planning applications.

    —  Assuming the off-shore development at Gwynt-y-Mor is granted consent, we have not been given a clear answer as to whether the output total will be awarded to England or Wales.

    —  We would like to know why the DTI and the WDA have consistently blocked tidal energy as a viable and more cost-effective alternative to wind power. Though we were told by Tidal Electric that the Swansea Lagoon could be generating before 2010, this was refuted by Welsh Assembly Ministers. We now learn that the project has been allowed to proceed beyond the consents stage and could be generating before 2010. Such misinformation on the part of the DTI and WDA has seriously skewed opinion and the market in favour of wind farms.

28 November 2005

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