Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence


Written Evidence from Mr Lyn James Jenkins, Director of Ceredigion Leisure Ltd

  My name is Mr Lyn James Jenkins, Director of Ceredigion Leisure Ltd, a tourism company based in Gwbert, Cardigan, Ceredigion. We own a tourist attraction called "Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park" at Gwbert, Cardigan [see cardiganisland.com]. Therefore, I am very concerned about the effect that gigantic wind turbines will have on the tourism industry in Wales. As you know, the Wales Tourist Board state that tourism is worth a phenomenal £2.5 billion pounds a year to the Welsh economy! It is far and away the most important rural industry, especially since agriculture is being devastated by unfair supermarket pressure. Thousands of farmers, like ourselves, have diversified into tourism. Many farmers have caravan sites; farm bed and breakfast businesses; farm cottages; attractions etc etc. They rely on the tourist enterprises to supplement farm income.

  We all know that visitors come to Wales for the glorious green scenery. The verdant patch-work of neat green fields topped by rounded hills and bare moorlands, where walkers can unwind by escaping their crowded cities, are our greatest assets! They are the crown jewels of Wales!!! It is sheer lunacy to destroy this magnificent scenery by erecting hundreds of 400 feet high wind turbines on totally unspoilt hills. The hundreds of turbines we have already, especially in Mid Wales, are bad enough, but the latest models are treble the height and treble the width of those machines. Without a doubt, perched up on our hills, they will be visible on a clear day from a fifty mile radius. Do you realise what this will do to Wales? It is only a small country of 8,015 square miles. It is only 38 miles from Aberystwyth on the west coast to England in the east!! These whirling metal monsters on our hills will be clearly visible from our National Parks, as well as from places of scenic beauty throughout Wales. The Cambrian Mountains are not in a national park, but they are bigger, wilder and more awe-inspiring than some of England's National Parks. They make Exmoor look like a back garden! They are more attractive than Dartmoor National Park, as well. Look how popular the latter is with tourists!! It is down to marketing. The Cambrian Mountains of mid Wales could attract hundreds of millions of pounds of extra revenue to Wales if they were designated as a National Park and marketed properly. Instead, the A44, which links Aberystwyth to Welshpool is becoming festooned on either side by ugly wind turbines which look totally out of place in such dramatic NATURAL surroundings. George Borrow who wrote the classic book "Wild Wales", on his travels to these parts, must be spinning in his grave faster than any wind turbine!! The whole wild essence of Mid Wales is being destroyed!

  The influential Times columnist, Sir Simon Jenkins, who is a very keen hill-walker, likened the view from Pumlumon to that of a "Kuwaiti oil-field" in a report in The Times a few years back. That was when about 250 wind turbines 150 feet high were visible from there. Since then, the 39 gigantic 327 ft high wind turbines of Cefn Croes have been erected four miles to the south of Pumlumon. I dread to think what Sir Simon Jenkins thinks now. His reports are read by many of the wealthiest potential tourists and investors in the UK. Think of the financial damage he is causing when he speaks the TRUTH about the ruined scenery of Mid-Wales!! He is driving away millions of pounds!!

  Yet what has been enacted so far is nothing compared to the absolute devastation that will be unleashed by the enactment of WAG's TAN 8 proposals. There will be 100 MW of wind energy on the western flank of Pumlumon from Machynlleth to the A44, around Nant-y-Moch Reservoir. That is 50 monstrous 400 ft high turbines, almost half the height of the Eiffel Tower with blades much longer than Nelson's Column. Then there will be a far vaster wind farm along the unspoilt spine of Wales, running south from glorious Llyn Efyrnwy [Lake Vyrnwy] to Carno.

  What have they got planned in that superb scenery? About 250 MW? That is a further 125 monster turbines, plain as daylight from Snowdonia National Park, especially from majestic Cader Idris. It is a heinous crime against Wales to even contemplate such desecration!! It will wreck North Wales tourism even in the National Park areas. The turbines will almost be as tall as Blackpool Tower! Unthinkable!!

  As if that is not a big enough knife stuck into the heart of Cymru Fach . . . . . . or should I say into the middle of its unprotected back!? . . . there is a further 100 MW, 50 more 400ft wind monsters, planned for lovely Powys, south of Newtown! What will that do for the tourist economy of Llandrindod Wells and the lovely Elan Valley?

  The Automobile Association voted the drive from Presteigne to Aberystwyth along the A44 as one of the finest in the world a few years ago? Who in their right minds would turn that glorious natural experience into a drive through a corridor of steel? Only the greatest enemies of Wales, I would surmise!! It could be said that a literal iron curtain is being stretched across the slim midriff of Wales, from Aberystwyth to Shropshire! What a welcome in the hill-sides for the hundreds of thousands of tourists that drive down from the Midlands and North West of England! It will be enough to make many of them turn around and head back for home, taking their much-needed revenue with them. They certainly will not return a second time once they witness the devastation and despoiled hills!! Again, the Brechfa Forest of Carmarthenshire is to have 50 gigantic wind turbines. This is the home of the RAC Motor Rally televised and broadcast world-wide. Welsh tourism to the "Garden of Wales" will be brutally battered by TV pictures of whirling steel monsters, where once there were trees!!

  Yet, what will TAN 8 achieve? It is meant to deliver 800MW of installed electrical capacity. Yet OFGEM records prove that the existing Mid Wales wind farms at Carno and Llandinam only average 22% of their installed capacity per annum. When they were proposed, 30 to 35% was promised!! Cefn Croes, with an installed capacity of 58.5MW, was also claimed to deliver 30-35%. Well, it's early days yet, but in six months of 2005, Cefn Croes averaged a mere 23.5% of installed capacity. In fact, in August 2005, it managed a pathetic 13.5%!! Electricity is needed around the clock, not now and again, so what good is that?

  If Cefn Croes averages 23% annum, it will be generating a mere 13.45MW sporadically, backed up by burning fossil fuels most of the time. The CLAIM that Cefn Croes supplies 45,000 homes with regular electricity is a complete fabrication! Even if one accepts the official DTI national average for domestic electricity usage of 4700kwhrs per annum . . . . . . which does NOT include home heating, [5 x100 watt bulbs x 24 hours x 365 days = 4,380 kwhrs or units!! What about TVs and computers on standby; TV usage; fridges; electric kettles and fires; immersion heaters; toasters; washing machines; spin dryers; electric cookers; microwaves; vacuum cleaners; second and third TVs in children's rooms; computer games; telephones; dish-washers etc etc? Don't THEY all use electricity?] The 4,700kwhr per annum "average" home is clearly not the NORMAL electricity dependent house. Just check your own electricity bills in rural WALES, not in gas-heated urban London!

  However, even if one accepts 4,700 units, then, one finds: 13,450 KW x 24 hrs x 365 days divided by 4,700 units per home, the answer is is 25,068 homes NOT 45,000!! Furthermore, even THEY will not be supplied by Cefn Croes, because the wind does not blow all the time. The trifling wind energy output will be fed into the National Grid. The National Grid powered by fossil fuels and nuclear will supply those 25,068 homes 24/7 in truth!!

  Again, if TAN 8 generates 23% of its proposed 800MW installed capacity, it will generate an intermittent 184MW ONLY!! But Wales will be wrecked, scenically, by seven turbine zones from Clwyd to the Glamorgan Valleys. And what for? At about the same time, it was announced that there would be a new 800MW gas-fired power station at Uskmouth and another large 2,000MW gas-fired power station at Milford Haven!!

  Wales already generates well over 4,000MW, without including our large pumped storage facilities at Dinorwig and Ffestiniog, and without counting the piffling, sporadic output of our 400 wind turbines. Yet we only utilise around 2000MW in Wales. Over half of current production goes to England. The new power station at Milford Haven alone would meet Wales's demands!! Yet, whilst politicians make a huge fuss about CO2 production, massive new CO2-producing gas-fired stations are announced without a murmur . . . at the same time!! The hypocrisy is incredible!!

  There was a great fan-fare for Cefn Croes . . for what? A measly 13.45 Megawatts!! Pathetic!! What press coverage has the proposed 2,000MW gas-fired power station for Milford Haven received? Very little!!

  Furthermore, a perusal of official Met Office wind speed statistics on www.metoffice.com/education/archive/uk proves how often the wind drops below nine knots in Wales. Wind turbines generate nothing below nine knots !! They grind to a halt.

  In April 2004,at Aberporth Met Office, Ceredigion, a very exposed site, the wind dropped to nine knots or below on 22 days out of 30. in May 2004, it was 25 days out of 31. It was the same all summer. The wind dropped frequently, especially in morning and evening. There was another long calm spell in October/November 2004 under an anti-cyclonic High pressure area.

  Similarly Christmas Day 2005 was very calm!! It would have been raw turkey all round if we'd relied on the wind for our electricity!! Then on 28 December, the UK suffered its coldest day for decades, with minus 10 degrees Centigrade being recorded in several locations. There were several inches of snow lying on the ground throughout eastern England. Yet at 6 pm, the hour of peak daily demand, [see www.bmreports.com], wind statistics on www.metoffice.com, prove that only one Met Office, out of more than 70 on mainland UK, recorded a wind speed in excess of nine knots . . . and that was a light 11 knots at Weybourne !!

  Furthermore, Since 3 January 2006, I have again started monitoring wind speeds on www.metoffice.com/education/archive/uk at all six Welsh Met Offices, the length and breadth of Wales. They are Valley, Anglesey; Lake Vyrnwy in the north Powys hills; Trawscoed, Aberystwyth; Aberporth, Ceredigion coast; Sennybridge, Brecon and St Athan on the Glamorgan coast.

  I chose readings an arbitary 8 am and 8 pm , every day, from 3 January 2006 to 4 February 2006. This is in the depth of winter, with freezing temperatures being recorded often. Therefore, the demand for electricity was at record levels over much of this period.

  It was found that a wind speed of nine knots or below were recorded for 67% of all the readings, on average. In fact, Lake Vyrnwy Met Office, close to the largest TAN 8 zone in Wales, records a wind speed of nine knots or less on a whopping 84% of occasions!! That is only through taking readings at 8 am and 8 pm. If one took additional readings an hour or two either side of these times, on the windier days , the percentage of low readings is certain to increase.

  Therefore, how could any back-up fossil fuel or nuclear power stations ever be run on reduced output, let alone ever be switched off . . . even if there were a TRILLION wind turbines in the UK!!!?? Wind turbines are worth nothing without sufficient wind!!

  Clearly, no conventional power stations can EVER be closed, and replaced by wind turbines.Under a large anti-cyclone, as at present, there is no wind anywhere in the UK to speak of. The optimum wind speed for most wind turbines is around 30 knots. How often does such a wind speed last? No more than for a few hours every now and again. How can one run a country on energy available "now and again"?? May I suggest that your committee obtains wind speed records for Wales from the Met Office, similar to those displayed on www.metoffice.com/education/archive/uk and puts them into graph form to prove my point about inadequate wind speeds? You would need stats for all six Welsh recording centres.

  If anyone cares to peruse the aforementioned NETA web-site, www.bmreports.com, and check bmreporting, then click "Initial Demand Out-turn", under National Data, one will see that on 29 November 2005, at 5.30 pm, a new record was set for UK electricity usage. The UK used 59,477MW for the first time ever, according to the bmreports.com records. The previous record, before that cold week, was 54,431MW on 10 December 2002. We are breaking that record hour after hour at present, especilly around 5.30 pm on a week-day, when millions arrive home from work and switch on their 3kw electric kettles!! Therefore, peak electricity usage in the UK has risen 5,000MW or 10% in three years. Meanwhile, three years prior to that, the Government stated that 10% would be generated by renewables by 2010, so it embarked on a policy of ever more wind turbines.

  Now, after erecting about 1,400 wind turbines in some of our most attractive UK hill locations, we manage to obtain around a 220 MW total, sporadically, on average!! This is often at night, when we don't need it!! And of course, almost always backed-up by fossil fuels, anyway!! It is farcical! We are chasing our tails with no hope of getting even close! We are desecrating our finest hill scenery and wrecking our most valuable rural industry for next to NOTHING in return!!

  I encourage you to be totally HONEST and to face up to the fact that wind energy does not have a hope of meeting even a fraction of the UK's electricity demands. TAN 8 should be scrapped before it does irreparable damage to the beauty of Wales!

  Mid Wales is being sacrificed to supply the West Midlands of England with a trivial amount of intermittent electricity. Where are the wind turbines of Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire etc etc?? There are NONE!! Yet these counties have far higher populations than Mid Wales and therefore need far more electricity! Is it because too many dissenting English voices would oust Labour from some of their marginal seats?

  The Labour Government is now talking of building new nuclear power plants. In which case, what Earthly point is there for gigantic wind turbines generating trivial sporadic amounts of electricity? By the way, Wales does not need any new nuclear power, because we already generate well over twice our needs , with two more huge new gas-fired power stations on the way.

  Unlike England, Wales is over-flowing with electricity!! Finally, it has been reported in the South Wales media that the Swansea area is being hard done by through having 40% of TAN 8 inflicted upon it. The statistic is untrue! Mid Wales, around North Ceredigion and Powys is bearing the brunt of TAN 8, even though it has a low population.

  Huge numbers of 400 ft high wind turbines are being inflicted upon it to serve the TURBINE-FREE West Midlands, not Mid Wales! A new pylon line will further despoil the area to carry the sporadic, trifling power to England. That cannot be fair and just!! Welsh politicians should be working for the WELSH economy, not England's. I will remind you that over 250 wind turbines were visible from glorious Pumlumon Fawr before embarking on TAN 8, so Swansea need not say it is being targetted more than Mid Wales. If wind turbines are not right for the Swansea area of South Wales . . . . . . they are certainly not right for Ceredigion, Powys, Clwyd and Carmarthenshire!! Let's hope that Labour favouritism, or even NIMBYISM, is not allowed to enter the argument!! Play FAIR with North, Mid and West Wales!

  Have the courage to scrap ALL the wind energy proposals of TAN 8!! They have NO HOPE of delivering Wales's future electricity needs! Future generations will KNOW it is the right decision for Cymru Fach !! They will be eternally grateful to you if elect to reject this completely inadequate document, which will totally desecrate the beauty of Wales without achieving anything positive for our beautiful country.

6 February 2006





 
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