Written Evidence from the Glyncorrwg Action
Following a meeting with Hywel Francis, MP Chair
of the Committee he agreed that I could make a submission to the
committee on behalf of the Glyncorrwg Action Group, they have
agreed to my making this submission on their behalf. This group
was established to fight against wind farms in this area, the
first campaign was in 1994, I was involved in that fight. All
my remarks are about wind energy in Wales.
Before anyone accuses us of NIMBYISM, we have
a wind farm in our backyard. This is the Fynnon Oer wind farm
comprising 16 × 300 feet turbines which has been dumped on
an upland area near to one of the most disadvantaged areas in
the UK. The Cymmer ward is eighth in the Multiple Deprivation
index of 865 wards for Wales; it also has the highest levels of
ill health in England and Wales. Wind farm developers seem to
plan their projects where they think there will be the least resistance.
We are not opposed to renewable energy and not
opposed to wind farms if they are acceptable to the local community.
What we are opposed to is where big business forces a wind farm
on a community.
I would like to bring to the committee's attention
4. Glyncorrwg/ECO2 Application
1. THE WIDER
The USA has 5% of the world's population
but consumes 25% of the world's energy.
I believe the UK will be one of the
few countries in Europe to comply with the Kyoto agreement by
2010.Why are we rushing to fulfil our obligations when others
do not see it as a priority?
Within the UK Wales has 5% of the
population but has 19% of the wind farms and generates 23% of
the total amount of wind energy for the UK.
Within Wales the area in which I
live is expected to generate over 30% of the total energy from
In global terms all the efforts to
combat global warming will be negated by the high consumption
of energy in the USA.
2. TAN 8
The consultation process on the TAN 8 proposals
was a sham. Glyncorrwg is in one of the areas thought by the Welsh
Assembly to be suitable for wind farms to be sited. There was
no consultation with individuals or the community about the designation
of this site. I am not sure how much consultation was held with
One gained the impression that it was being
bulldozed through. I sent a letter to the Welsh Assembly on 22.9.04
saying, "This is not my letter of objection but I am writing
to complain about the consultation process and to ask a number
of questions to obtain information, which will help me in writing
my letter of objection". I was sent a reply thanking me for
my letter of objection! The area in which I live was referred
to as Glyncorrwg, Neath when Neath is 10 miles away. This shows
this plan was clearly drawn up by people who regarded Glyncorrwg
as a dot on the map and had no idea of the location of the village.
This was a textbook case study in how a consultation
should not be handled and I am sure it will be used in Planning
Schools in the future.
1. The consultation process was announced
on 13 July just as the school holidays were starting and many
families were obviously more concerned about their annual holidays.
This was a cynical attempt to slip this announcement through when
people's attention was distracted. This further undermined people's
confidence in the planning process.
2. I live in an area, which is directly
affected by these proposals, but I only found out about it in
a small article in a local newspaper. Most people in this community
do not know about TAN 8 or its far-reaching implications for this
area. Why were there no public meetings on this issue in the areas
3. The time period was too limited, and
spanned a time when many people were on holiday and many organisations
do not meet. More time was required and a letter should have been
sent to each household.
The time period was extended but there was not
sufficient time for many people to respond.
TAN 8 gives advantage in planning terms to developers
over local communities which is against the laws of natural justice.
Local people should be able to determine their own destiny and
not be overruled by outside bodies. It is undemocratic and unfair.
The proposals will have a huge impact on this area and residents
should have been better informed on what these proposals entail.
3. HOW IT
The developments of large-scale wind farms will
ruin many parts of the Welsh landscape and will seriously affect
plans to attract more tourists. It would be better to invest resources
in energy efficiency and in energy conservation. The uncertainty
as to whether these wind farms will be allowed will blight areas
such as Glyncorrwg and will be a burden to the people living here.
Wales is being asked to provide a disproportionate
percentage of the UK national target for wind farms. This has
led to accusations of the Welsh Assembly being a "soft touch"
and being closely associated with multi-national firms eg Gamesa
which will benefit from this development.
The TAN 8 proposals are ill conceived, naïve
and of little benefit to Wales or its people. TAN 8 will damage
the credibility of the Assembly and bring into question whether
devolved government is best for this country. The Assembly should
be fighting against these proposals not proposing them. I hope
the Assembly will see sense and drop these proposals.
How do the TAN 8 proposals fit with the Welsh
Assembly social inclusion policy? This is supposed to be about
helping disadvantaged places like Glyncorrwg. This has placed
an added burden on this community.
The new Welsh Assembly building has recently
won a green award for building design. How surprising that they
did not include wind turbines in their plans for the new building!
Cardiff Bay is a windy place and a perfect spot for wind turbines.
It could have been a showcase development for something they have
a strong belief in for other places.
All the above points have been communicated
to the Welsh Assembly.
Most people do not want the landscape
destroyed and there is great concern about the impact on tourism
which we are trying to develop. We do not believe wind farms attract
tourists, we think they deter them. Voluntary groups and individuals
have worked hard to try to regenerate Glyncorrwg by visitors who
love the peace and wild beauty of our hills. Wind farms will not
help these developments.
This area has suffered enough. For
over a hundred years Glyncorrwg and the surrounding area paid
enormous sacrifices in coal mining. The local landscape was seriously
affected and many people suffered ill health from working in the
mines. Now just as the scars are healing we are being asked once
more to sacrifice the local landscape for the energy needs of
We are not convinced about the viability
of wind turbines and we see this as an opportunity for multi-national
companies to make even more money by imposing these industrial
installations on small vulnerable communities.
The proposed percentage of wind energy
that this area will produce under TAN 8 will have devastating
effects on the landscape. Surely the disproportionate contribution
that our area will be making is totally unfair. Glyncorrwg is
identified as being a ward of high deprivation which needs a lot
of support in what it is trying to achieve. We are listed at 24
out of 865 wards in the Multiple Deprivation index for Wales.
This will not help this community but place a greater burden on
it and a strain on individuals many of whom are elderly or suffering
What has happened as a result of TAN 8 is that
developers are now hovering over the area like vultures. There
is now a free for all. According to Neath Port Talbot CBC, 11
firms have expressed an interest in placing wind farms in the
council area. I have heard that six of the proposals relate to
Glyncorrwg and environs. The landscape of Wales is being bought
and sold by developers many of whom are based in Europe, for example,
Cefn Croes wind farm is owned by Falck based in Milan.
The role of the Forestry Commission needs to
be clarified. If the Welsh Assembly controls the Forestry Commission
and is encouraging wind farm developers to use or have access
to land through Forestry Commission land it has a financial interest
in this matter. There is therefore a conflict of interest. This
issue has been raised in Scotland, see The Scotsman article
attached at Appendix 1.
Eco2, a Cardiff based firm, has proposed to
place six 400 feet wind turbines half a mile from the village.
The turbines will be bigger than Big Ben and as high as the London
Eye. A petition against the proposal has been circulated and a
majority of people in the village have signed. Many politicians
and civil servants talk about wind energy but have they thought
about the effects it has on a small vulnerable community?
The main concerns are:
It will spoil an area of outstanding
Wind farms are ugly, inefficient
and will spoil the wild beautiful areas around the village.
It will undermine the attempts by
residents, the local authority and other bodies to regenerate
the local community after decades of decline.
It will undermine work done to encourage
tourism through the Glyncorrwg Pond project and mountain biking.
This project has been established by local people to attract tourists,
mainly for mountain biking. Recently one of the bike trails was
hailed as one of the most popular in the UK. A considerable amount
of public money and voluntary effort has gone into making this
project a success.
There is also concern about the effects
on house prices, TV reception and wildlife.
Many people feel that others will
be deterred from visiting or moving to Glyncorrwg.
Concern has also been expressed about
the effects on health on this matter there have been two studies
by GPs see The Daily Telegraph article attached at Appendix
Many individuals have been affected by this
development and case studies can be provided if required. The
developer has offered community benefits which many see as bribes.
In this disadvantaged community this has swayed some people into
accepting the unacceptable. Farmers who have lost income see wind
farms as a meal ticket. Our fight against the wind farm developers
is one of David against Goliath, big business against small vulnerable
Glyncorrwg needs support and protection
from the Welsh Assembly Government not labelling as a "strategic
area" under a plan, which will seriously spoil the future
development of this area.
A moratorium should be called on
any new developments to assess the viability of existing wind
farms. Wales has contributed more than its fair share of energy
from wind sources.
There needs to be an independent
review of the TAN 8 proposals.
These developments should be more
equally distributed within Wales and throughout the UK
There should be more guidance on
how close wind farms can be to houses
Measures should be introduced to
prevent the free for all by developers, that is taking place in
areas such as Glyncorrwg
Strict guidelines need to be introduced
on community benefits.
There should be stricter guidelines
on consultation between the communities affected and wind farm
Help should be provided to anti wind
farm groups to combat the ruination of their area. This is a David
v Goliath situation.
The role of the Forestry Commission
needs to be clarified with regard to the Welsh Assembly.
I was surprised to see the DTI civil servants
using British Wind Energy Association statistics when they gave
oral evidence to your committee on 31 January 2006. This is a
trade association which promotes wind farms how can it be seen
to be objective. It is also aggressive when encountering opposition.
Does the Department of Health use statistics from trade associations
when discussing smoking and alcohol consumption? The DTI web site
also uses BWEA statistics; it needs to be fairer and to give both
sides of the argument. At the moment it is blatantly biased towards
wind farms. In a democracy this is unacceptable.
There are powerful arguments against wind farms:
Are they the best use of resources?
Should more effort be put into energy efficiency
and energy conservation?
Would the money be better spent helping people
to replace inefficient boilers?
What is being done to reduce the number of cars
on the roads?
Why isn't more freight being carried on the railways?
What is being done to curb pollution from air
travel? No attempt has been made to control the number of flights
or the expansion of regional airports.
Should supermarkets encourage people to buy beans
from Kenya or asparagus from Peru? These products have to be transported
and this increases gas emissions. Why not place an emphasis on
buying locally sourced products.
What is being done by the public sector to improve
How many streetlights do you see that are on
How many offices and shops do you enter where
the heat is intolerable?
Should not the above points have been considered
before ruining parts of a beautiful country's landscape with these
hideous installations? Wind farms are gestures; they are a knee
jerk reaction. They have a part to play but please do not allow
the further desecration of the Welsh landscape.
Do not allow communities like Glyncorrwg to
be sacrificed on a green altar.
14 February 2006