UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE To be published as HC 876 - iv

House of COMMONS

MINUTES OF EVIDENCE

TAKEN BEFORE

WELSH AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

 

ENERGY IN WALES

 

 

Tuesday 14 March 2006

MR MAURICE PRICE, MS JULIE KENDRICK and MR MALCOLM HARRISON

DR JOHN VALENTINE

MR GORDON JAMES, MR NEIL CRUMPTON, MR PETER OGDEN,

MR GEOFF SINCLAIR and MR MARTIN DOWSON

Evidence heard in Public Questions 343 - 479

 

 

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Welsh Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 14 March 2006

Members present

Dr Hywel Francis, in the Chair

Mr Stephen Crabb

David T C Davies

Nia Griffith

Mrs Siān C James

Mr David Jones

Jessica Morden

Albert Owen

Mark Williams

________________

Memorandum submitted by Express Power

 

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Mr Maurice Price, Chief Executive, Ms Julie Kendrick, Commercial Director, and Mr Malcolm Harrison, Business Development Director, gave evidence.

Q343 Chairman: Good morning. May I welcome you all to the Welsh Affairs Committee and may I begin by asking you to introduce yourselves?

Mr Price: My name is Maurice Price and I am Chief Executive of Express Power Ltd. We are a wholly-owned subsidiary of a group called Express Park, which predominantly consists of shareholders from Holland, a company called Subinvest BV. We are a stand-alone company. Our Commercial Director is Julie Kendrick and the Business Development Director is Malcolm Harrison.

Q344 Chairman: Could you provide us with a little more background information about the company that you represent?

Mr Price: The company, Express Power Ltd., was set up some four years ago. As I say, we are part of a property development company. We are a wholly-owned subsidiary, but we are a stand-alone company within the group. The reason that Express Power was set up is that the main shareholder, Mr Eric van (Loew), has a passionate interest in renewable energy and he has business interests all across Europe. He was seeking to supply green energy to tenants on a 100 acre development site in the West Country, in Somerset. That was the first project we tackled. We are now looking at a number of projects across the UK and in particular one in the Capital Valley site in Rhymney, South Wales. In the main project we have focused on biomass. We are looking to burn reclaimed timber from the waste stream - it is clean, green and very carefully selected - and use that in a conventional combustion arrangement to produce electricity. If the opportunity presents itself and if local industry is interested, then we would look at supplying heat locally as well.

Q345 Chairman: Can you paint a picture for us of the range and variety of biomass energy across Europe?

Mr Price: I am no expert. I introduced my colleague, Malcolm Harrison. Just looking at the UK, in the biomass development, which is my predominant interest, we have looked at wood, miscanthus, willow and forestry waste. Personally, I am convinced that there is potential for a mix of fuel which will create a good, solid basis for a biomass-based industry. To add a further comment, my company's ambition is to develop five projects across the United Kingdom, at least two and possibly even three in Wales, so that we finish up with a 100 MW business solely based on biomass and green energy.

Q346 Chairman: Perhaps Mr Harrison could say something about the situation in Europe and how Britain fares in relation to the rest of Europe.

Mr Harrison: Compared with the rest of Europe, I am afraid we are pretty well down the league table. I am looking at information here from an EU website which shows the amount of primary energy developed from wood, so it is purely wood. At the top of the league for 2004 is France at just over 9% of its primary energy, followed closely by Sweden at just over 8%, Finland at 7%, Germany at 6%, Spain at 4% and Poland at just about 4%, and I am afraid the UK is down at 1.2%.

Q347 Chairman: How do you account for that difference?

Mr Harrison: It could well be to do with the wood resource in those countries, but possibly it is down to the different regimes that encourage biomass, particularly the different types of electricity tariffs that are applicable.

Q348 Chairman: Are you suggesting that the respective governments in different parts of Europe support biomass energy more strongly than the UK?

Mr Harrison: I think they possibly have a different type of mechanism that perhaps is not as competitive as here.

Q349 Jessica Morden: Within 2% for the UK, how does Wales compare with other parts of the UK in terms of energy currently generated from biomass?

Mr Harrison: To be honest, I do not really know. This is just a global figure.

Mr Price: Adding a comment there, we are aware of two 10 MW projects that have received financial support, I believe either from the Assembly or WDA. Personally, I am not aware of any other projects. If I may add one other comment regarding the planning issues associated with projects, we have developed a generic design of about 20 MW export. We have invested very considerable sums of money, nearly £2 million, in the development of this, in partnership with Siemens. Anecdotally, we reached the point where we had all statutory objections removed from our first project; we had the support of the planning officers; the local politicians turned it down; and on appeal the appeal was dismissed. The difficulty then for a company like ours, which consists of private investors who have a serious interest in green energy, is that the cost of that was £2 million. We then begin to address the risks that investors are taking by investing in a project, albeit with all the technical and logistical issues solved and addressed. The risk issues relate predominantly to planning and the fact that, even with some encouragement from central government, the local planning personnel can take whatever decisions they feel appropriate for that area. The definition of risk is not a criticism.

Q350 Jessica Morden: Thank you for raising that. We will go into that more later in the questions. Can I ask a basic question which you touched on earlier. What are the main fuel sources of biomass schemes in Wales?

Mr Price: We are certainly looking at reclaimed timber from the waste stream. I would emphasise that it is selective and it is clean. Then there is forestry waste. Beyond that, in terms of biomass, we have a chicken and egg situation where we could build the plant if the fuel is available, and the fuel would be available if there is a plant to use it. It is very restrictive at the moment.

Q351 Nia Griffith: Following that, you are talking about 175,000 tonnes per annum in your submission. I am very encouraged by the idea that some of that would be presumably collected as separate timber in, say, local authority recycling centres and you would be picking up that timber. We know there are lots of coniferous areas in Wales where there is timber decay and the trees need managing. One feels that there is a finite end to it and one does not want to have the sort of situation we have had in Africa with mass deforestation. Where do you see the limits and how do you see the renewing of that source going on?

Mr Price: I believe that there is a mix of fuels for our projects. At the moment, so far as I am aware, there is in excess of one million tonnes of material that can be reclaimed from the waste stream across the UK. I would not, for a moment, expect to fire 175 tonnes from the local city in Cardiff. We are looking at a mix. Then, moving on to the replanting of trees, as time goes on, we would be seeking to work with the Forestry Commission to see how much of this material is grown as a crop. We can look at willow and all the others. The difficulty I have encountered, again going back to Somerset for the moment, is that vast acreages will be required if one solely addresses green and crop fuel. There has to be a mix of other materials. The technology that we are using is a very simple technology which will cater for such a mix.

Q352 Albert Owen: Can you give some examples of biomass schemes in Wales that have benefited from DTI initiatives?

Mr Price: My answer to that is no, but I will come back to you with that answer.

Albert Owen: In their written evidence they told us of these large schemes, the Wood Energy Business Scheme at £7 million and the Willows for Wales Scheme and the Bio-energy Capital Grant Scheme at £66 million, so there is a lot of money available. I am wondering if there are any projects in Wales that have been able to identify these grants. Are they just difficult to come by?

Q353 Chairman: Are you familiar in my constituency of Aberavon with a company called Western Logs which I believe has received some support from the DTI?

Mr Price: I am not familiar with that.

Q354 Albert Owen: Earlier you mentioned planning and some anecdotal evidence that you have, but is there a proper planning strategy as there is for wind for biomass? For wind we have the TAN 8 in Wales and there are technical assistance notices. Is there such a thing for biomass or do you go straight into the local mire of planning that every other controversial scheme goes into?

Mr Price: What a lovely description! Recently we have established a very good relationship with the Welsh Development Agency. I can sing their praises. They have been very helpful in guiding us through some of the difficulties with planning. They have supported us in many ways. Beyond that, we have to use our own judgment. We use a Welsh consultant for planning. Our own Planning Director is a Welshman and he understands the Welsh politics rather better than I do. In essence, we take soundings and if there is an enormously adverse reaction, then we would ---

Q355 Albert Owen: The question I am really asking is: when it comes to the planning stage, is there a Welsh Assembly TAN for it, a systems notice?

Mr Price: I am not aware of that; I have not seen one.

Q356 Albert Owen: I move on to the Welsh Assembly Government's Route Map, and I know they are producing this mid-2006, so it is due any time, and there are relevant targets. Are you aware of what those targets are? I am disappointed to hear that you are not sure how much of the 1.2% is made up in Wales. Presumably this route map will help you to get to a certain standard or level.

Mr Price: Yes, that is the case. We would look at that and follow the route as and when it becomes available.

Q357 Albert Owen: Are you aware of what the likely targets are? Has there been any consultation?

Mr Price: These are the likely targets for Wales for renewable energy?

Q358 Albert Owen: This is for biomass itself.

Mr Price: I have not personally seen any guidance on biomass.

Q359 Mrs James: So you have no indications of what the targets will be, nothing at all?

Mr Price: I do not have that for biomass in Wales. We are approaching it from a business perspective. As I said earlier, our shareholders are passionate about clean energy. I personally know that part of Wales very well. It is a site which has many advantages over other sites in Wales. It is a logical place to go. There is a good labour pool. There is a fuel source and very good road infrastructure. I could go to my shareholders and convince them that this is a good place to invest.

Q360 Mr Crabb: Could you tell us a bit more about the biomass projects you are currently developing in the Rhymney Valley?

Mr Price: There are two entirely absolutely distinct projects. One is where we have researched the market for coal-fired fuel. We are looking at biomass fuel, and that is basically wood-based. This would be produced from forest residues with green timber and be absolutely green and that is a ring-fenced business. We are looking at the markets. The Energy Review has, to some extent, reduced the attractiveness of that because there are uncertainties now created in the percentages of coal-fired ROCs that will be permitted across the UK. It is a market, a business and an opportunity. That is completely ring-fenced and it is one separate business. Secondly, and more importantly from our point of view, we are looking at biomass power generation. That is using wood and wood derivatives. We have developed a generic design which is 20 MW or just over net output. We have identified fuel sources for this plant. The objective, from my point of view, is to use that generic design and replicate it elsewhere in Wales.

Q361 Mr Crabb: On that note, have you identified further sites where you could replicate this project?

Mr Price: Not in Wales. We are focused as a small company with limited resources and people. In order to get our first project off the ground and avoid the situation that I hit in Somerset, I want to focus first on getting that one up and flying and that will, of course, increase the credibility of Express Power. There are other sites in north Wales that WDA have indicated to us would possibly be suitable.

Q362 Mr Crabb: To ensure a return for your shareholders, do you need to replicate the project?

Mr Price: No. These are stand-alone businesses. Each one must stand on its own merits.

Q363 Mr Crabb: What more do you think the Welsh Assembly Government or the DTI could do to attract potential biomass developers to brownfield sites in Wales?

Mr Price: Again, one looks at risk. The major risk is the planning risk and normal management techniques just cannot be applied to that risk. At the end of the day, we have to go to the planners. Sometimes it is a decision based solely on local politics and local interests. We are trying to accept the concerns of the local community and work within those concerns. We have already been offered support by the WDA, but if it were possible to gain some support from the Assembly which could mitigate some of that risk, then I think the problem of development would become much easier.

Q364 Mr Crabb: That would essentially be to exempt you from local planning processes?

Mr Price: I think "exemption" is probably the wrong word. We would all baulk at exemption if somebody wanted to build in his backyard, the NIMBY issue, but if there was encouragement and co-operation with the Assembly and with local people to ensure that the project was not intrusive, did create further jobs and was beneficial to the area, working together as a team, the Assembly and ourselves, we could create the biomass business which would not offend anyone.

Q365 Mark Williams: Can I probe you further on the Rhymney Valley projects? I think the biomass is on a very small scale and there are two or three in my constituency that fit into that category. What generation capacity do you envisage on the scheme there?

Mr Price: It is 20 MW electrical, net.

Q366 Mark Williams: You mentioned job creation. How many jobs do you envisage being created as a result of the project?

Mr Price: There will be of the order of 20 full-time quality jobs or what I would call direct employees running the plant and ensuring that it works. The lead spin-off jobs from that would probably be in excess of a further 40 jobs; that is in transportation, fuel management right down to the people who paint the fences and make the sandwiches. There are many spin-off jobs. They are solid. I cannot emphasise strongly enough that we are in the business for the long-term. We do not want to build these plants and simply be taken over by someone else. We are in it and we want to operate it and make sure that it is for the benefit of the community.

Q367 Mark Williams: You mentioned some of the frustrations of the planning system. How has this scheme gone down in the locality in terms, firstly, of the local authority? How much support have you had from the local authority planning department in the case of the Rhymney Valley and what engagement have you had with the local community?

Mr Price: To deal with the fuel plant first, we were given permission to build on the B2 development, which is a continuous process, and that was encouraging. We still have to get detailed planning consent. We are confident we can get that. My Planning Director, Michael French, has discussed the power plant with the local authority, not formally because we needed to take soundings, and this is part of the process of taking soundings. Some concern was expressed but when we explained that we will always carry out a full environmental impact study and a full logistics study with the co-operation of the local authority, they seemed to relax a little bit. At this point, this is very preliminary. As of last week, I have issued an instruction to my colleagues now to pursue a formal route for a planning application for this project.

Q368 Mark Williams: What about your engagement with the general public in that area? You will appreciate that if a local authority is moving in one direction, it is not always in tune with the local community.

Mr Price: We will engage with the local community. We did this previously in the one that failed. We will do that with public meetings and public discussions and anyone who has concerns can contact me or my two colleagues directly if necessary. That door is always open.

Q369 Mr Jones: You have mentioned the planning difficulties. What further requirements are there in terms of infrastructure, would you say, and also investment for the development of biomass in Wales?

Mr Price: In terms of transport infrastructure, which is the one that usually concerns everyone, it is very close to the heads of the Valleys. A very substantial road infrastructure already exists. The exit and entrance to the site exists and is already being used by a company called Evans Logistics.

Q370 Mr Jones: That is specific to your site. My question was wider. My question was: what are the general requirements in terms of infrastructure to facilitate the development of biomass in Wales?

Mr Price: I am sorry. Again, we would be looking for a very good road infrastructure. Wales does have the benefit of good quality roads where high levels of traffic can move without intruding on the area. The other infrastructure is the electricity infrastructure. The costs involved related to that will be taken into account in our budget costs for the whole project. The two major ones are to get the fuel in and to get the power away. The rest of it falls under normal management techniques.

Q371 Mr Jones: You recognise that road traffic and the power required for generation contribute to CO2 emissions from biomass plants. With this in mind, can you tell us how you calculate emissions from biomass projects?

Mr Price: Yes. We use consultants called Atkins, which are the biggest consultants in Europe. In fact, some years ago for 10 years I was a director at Atkins, so we know them quite well. The actual calculations we carried out were done for me by Atkins. Do you want numbers?

Q372 Mr Jones: We are more concerned with how you calculate the emissions and emissions savings from a biomass project taking into account the CO2 emissions from transport and generation?

Mr Price: I can circulate this but it is slightly out of date because it is a moving feast. We have calculated the CO2 emissions from the number of vehicles that will be moving the material around; for example, anticipated traffic movements are 56,000 per annum. The CO2 emissions from the power plant or the material to the power plant are 3,500, and from the other plant, because you have material in and material out, it is nearer 6,000. The actual savings involved in this or the net CO2 reduction from the power plant is 65,000 tonnes per annum and from the pellet plant the saving in using biomass energy and coal-firing is about 25,000 tonnes per annum, so the total CO2 reduction is about 90,000 tonnes per annum by using this material.

Q373 Mr Jones: In approximate percentage terms, what are the savings in emissions compared with a traditional fossil fuel plant? If you do not know the figures offhand, perhaps you could write to us.

Mr Price: Yes. I have here a calculation at the end of this report in round figures of an estimated 160 million tonnes of CO2 per annum in the UK. The reduction that would be designated to our plant is 0.06%. I will get the actual figures from Atkins and forward those to you.

Q374 Nia Griffith: Our traditional image of wood is that it is smoky. What measures do you have in place in terms of filtering and so forth?

Mr Price: We have gone to extensive lengths to filter out particulates. Even though we are looking at using green fuel, we have actually built into our design the equipment for the plant that will make the plant comply with the Waste Incineration Directive. We will not need it for the material we want to use but if, in the future, things change and, for example, refuse-derived fuels or cleaned-up versions of it are classed as green energy or renewable energy, then we are putting in equipment which will actually handle that. We have no intention whatever at any time to burn refuse material. I thought it was prudent at this stage to install this equipment because to retro-fit it is technically extremely difficult and expensive. At the outset, it is a very much cheaper operation.

Q375 Mrs James: In section 4 of your written evidence you say that current OFGEM certification processes increase financial uncertainty and are a constraint on business development. Could you give us more detail on this, please?

Mr Price: Yes. There has been a move since I wrote that. When I prepared that note we were facing difficulty in getting accreditation for the fuel that we want to use; in other words, accreditation of renewable obligations certificates. At that time, the rule was that one did not get accreditation for this fuel until after the plant was constructed and commissioned. At that point, I would have spent in excess of ₤50 million on a project which would not necessarily have a guarantee of a revenue stream or a very much lower revenue stream. It is the support from the renewable obligations certificates that makes these businesses viable. I am aware now that that has changed. On planning consent, OFGEM are now prepared to indicate, though it is not a guarantee, that we would receive accreditation for the fuel. That will make life very much easier for investors to take a decision. I welcome that change in the rules.

Mrs James: I was going to ask you a bit about the ROCs but you have covered that in your answer. Thank you.

Chairman: Thank you very much for your evidence. If there is further evidence you wish to submit, and you have alluded to that, we would be very pleased to receive it.


Memorandum submitted by Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research

Examination of Witness

Witness: Dr John Valentine, Head of Non-Forage Crops Team, Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER), gave evidence.

Q376 Chairman: Good morning and welcome to the Welsh Affairs Committee. For the record, could you formally introduce yourself?

Dr Valentine: I am John Valentine, Head of the Non-Forage Crops Team within the Plant Genetics Department at IGER in Aberystwyth. I co-ordinated the Willows for Wales project, which was funded by EU structural funds, the Welsh Assembly Government, WDA and industry, and industry includes RWE npower who operate the Aberthaw power station and smaller energy service companies that are interested in small and medium scale generation. My team is also responsible for the Defra-funded UK breeding programme of miscanthus and also in the SUPERGEN project.

Q377 Mark Williams: Dr Valentine, you have answered part of my first question, which was to give us more information on the work of IGER generally. Is there anything you want to add to that?

Dr Valentine: Yes. We are one of eight research institutes funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council for England and Wales. Energy is part of a multi‑functional, agricultural question that we are addressing. I think the strength of IGER lies in the fact that we undertake work from basic right through to strategic, target-driven research and research into the marketplace with the private sector. We have a strong commitment to communicate our research to beneficiaries and policy makers.

Q378 Mark Williams: In the written evidence you submitted you talked of biomass being the number one renewable in Europe. Can you give us some indication of the scale and variety of biomass projects across Europe?

Dr Valentine: It has been described as the sleeping giant of renewables in the world. At the moment, the EU gets 4% of its energy from biomass, but the EU Action Plan states that could be doubled by 2010 without the risk of significantly altering domestic food production. The potential for the 2020s is three to three and a half times and the potential for 2030 is three and a half to four and a half times. Bulgaria and Romania have a proven availability as well within the EU because they have 0.7 hectares of land per capita compared with the other EU 25 at 0.4. Inputs into the EU offer still more. The EU Action Plan goes for a balanced approach for bio-fuels: bio-ethanol and bio-diesel. For instance, we can import some of the seven million tonnes from Brazil but we would have to make sure this was sustainable and would not cause deforestation.

Q379 Mark Williams: Notwithstanding the excellent research work that the Institute is undertaking, we are very much the junior partners in this across Europe in terms of realising the potential.

Dr Valentine: Yes, and that is partly because some of them have forestry areas but countries like Sweden also want to grow low energy crops; they do not want to have to import any energy.

Q380 Mark Williams: In terms of the energy currently generated from biomass, how does Wales specifically compare with other parts of the UK?

Dr Valentine: We about on a par or just below. Drax, you have to remember, is taking biomass as one large power station; that is taking a massive amount of biomass and it is coal‑firing. It was material that was planned for the ARBRE scheme so that is a little bit ahead. In the UK there are all sorts of materials from forests, crop and food chain residues, energy crops and municipal solid waste as inputs. I think municipal solid waste is more used in the UK at about 2.5 million tonnes. That is one-third the energy of coal whereas its energy crops are one-half of wood. That needs to be in special plants. There are real or perceived issues with health and the environment and whether they are recyclable. As far as Wales is concerned, I think energy crops are going to underpin the whole biomass area. Those are more uniform. Ben Gill's Biomass Task Force, to which we contribute, came up with a vision of one million hectares producing eight million tonnes of energy crop. When we play this scenario, then we could place a bit of a subjective value on it. In Wales we have forests, forestry products and small round woods. I am not sure about the forest residues, the foliage and needles, and whether that would be better recycled into the soil, otherwise you take the nutrients out and you have a quality problem. I think there is a gap at the moment that has to be filled by energy crops.

Q381 Jessica Morden: In your evidence you say that current yields of biomass are well below the theoretical potential in Wales. Could you expand a bit more on what you think the full potential is?

Dr Valentine: Biomass energy is on dry matters derived from trapping the sun's energy through photosynthesis. At the moment, the average yield is about 8-10 tonnes. You can get ten tonnes from wheat and that is only one little part of the plant. The potential is around 25 tonnes per annum. Of course these are much more efficient crops than wheat or oilseed rape because they are perennial and they recycle their nutrients. You do not have the costs of replanting every year with the giant grasses and the willow.

Q382 Jessica Morden: So you do think there is a huge future potential?

Dr Valentine: Yes. It was a Defra aim to double the yield of willow within ten years. That would have a tremendous effect on the economics of the supply chain. Of course in the meantime I think the rising costs of oil and gas are having that push there.

Q383 Albert Owen: You mentioned the Biomass Task Force. Who are members of that and are you aware of what incentives are given to farmers to diversify to reach the potential that you talked about? I am not aware of it. I have had some briefings from the land and countryside owners and they are aware of this and have been trying to come up with something but there is not much of a take-up by the farmers. What are the disincentives that prevent that?

Dr Valentine: There are about 42 recommendations of the Biomass Task Force.

Q384 Albert Owen: Who is on that body?

Dr Valentine: It was led by Sir Ben Gill. David Clayton from Defra was on it and there was some industry input as well. Their reasons why biomass was not making a greater contribution were that there was ignorance of the potential, it was perceived as complex or high risk, a lack of policy, clarity and a fragmented approach within government. They want governments to take ownership of this. There was too much emphasis on electricity and not heat and a lack of robust supply chains.

Q385 Mr Jones: Returning to your comments about biomass falling well below its theoretical potential, why would you say that is, whilst at the same time wind power, for example, has been aggressively exploited? Why would you say that biomass falls well below wind power in terms of its exploitation?

Dr Valentine: It is because wind was the low-hanging fruit. That was the technology of the Nineties and now biomass is getting to that situation. It is a more complex supply chain but nothing like as complex as the oil and petrochemical supply chain, which of course has taken 150 years to evolve. They even sell charcoal and logs on garage forecourts. You can see the complexity of that chain as they even have it in garages.

Q386 Mr Jones: Would it be fair to say that the exploitation of biomass as a fuel is suffering because of the aggressive exploitation of green power?

Dr Valentine: No. I think there is a realisation that there is a limit to wind and now it is biomass' turn, as it were.

Q387 Mr Crabb: Are you satisfied that the Assembly and the DTI have developed an appropriate strategy for biomass?

Dr Valentine: We set up a woodland biomass development within 2001, or the Assembly did, and got it going in 2002. A lot of what was recommended has happened, but in the meantime some of it has not and a new reformed steering group has been set up chaired by the Forestry Commission which is going to look at priority areas to take forward. What needs to be done is for the industry to be given confidence. One other thing is that they have had planting grants in England of ₤1,000 a head for willow and miscanthus and we have only yet planted grass under the Woodland Grants Scheme, 600 hectares for willow and nothing for miscanthus. That is now in the Rural Development Strategy which is out for consultation but energy crops get ₤1,000 planting grants for a limit, in the first instance, of 9,000 hectares. One hopes that does not disappear because I think we do need to diversify. This is not really a subsidy in the old sense. Sir Ben Gill's report pointed out that it is really there to move the market in one direction to induce change and that is a satisfactory thing to do.

Q388 Mr Crabb: Friends of the Earth told us that biomass could be more vigorously promoted and encouraged by the Assembly Government. Would you agree with that sentence?

Dr Valentine: They have not got a target yet. I think we need to work towards targets. I have my own idea there. To put it the other way round, biomass lacks a voice. It needs one voice that the Assembly can turn to and talk to rather like it talks to the Forestry Commission.

Q389 Mr Crabb: If you were Head of Energy within the Welsh Assembly Government, what would you be doing to promote biomass to give confidence, as you have just said?

Dr Valentine: I would set targets, but of course it is more than government action. I would do things to induce confidence. In my own project we are demonstrating the technologies. We have to give farmers confidence with the grant. If we are to make progress, and coal-fired is one big win in the coming years, and if we are not to miss this opportunity we need to make sure that there is sufficient planting next year. Farmers will have to be signed up for that in October so that we do not go more than a year behind. The end users then will have to provide contracts and say that they will buy this material. You cannot expect people to do it on spec. I think we need greater advice within Wales. It is very hard at the moment for individual farmers to set up biomass on their own. It is everybody really, not just government.

Q390 Mr Crabb: Friends of the Earth also highlighted two instances where biomass projects were defeated in the planning application stage, having aroused considerably public opposition. What are the planning procedures for projects of this kind? What do you understand in the planning process?

Dr Valentine: I do not understand a lot of the detail but one would hope that the new TAN 8 document would indicate the permitted developments there and that would ease the situation.

Q391 Mr Crabb: So there is a planning strategy being put in place for biomass similar to what was done for wind?

Dr Valentine: Yes, largely; it has been set out in terms of wood fuel. The rest of the world uses the term "biomass". I am not sure why TAN 8 in its main part uses the phrase "wood fuel" but one would hope that would have a large effect.

Q392 Mark Williams: We understand that the Welsh Assembly Government's Energy Route Map will identify relevant targets by 2006. Have you any indication of what those targets will be?

Dr Valentine: No, that is up to this new steering group to do. We need to get on to it fairly quickly. You have to look at it in terms of the resource which is available and there are about 67,000 hectares of arable land in Wales, 184,000 pastures under five years old, and there is permanent grass of one million hectares. You can take 5, 10 or 20% of that. I think that Wales could set itself a target of 100,000 hectares of biomass using one-tenth of the grassland and arable areas in Wales from energy crops and that would produce one million tonnes of biomass per annum by 2020. I work that out as coming to 10.9% of the UK's electrical needs. This is a larger figure than that given by Kevin Mowbray. I gather that Kevin's figure included transport fuel in it. This is the consumption of electrical generation.

Q393 Nia Griffith: That is an important point. Up to now we have been talking about plants being used for generation of electricity. Do you have a view on whether that is actually the most effective use of biomass products or whether we should not be looking more at the translation directly into vehicle fuel as perhaps a more useful use of it?

Dr Valentine: I think it is the kick-start that will get it going. Aberthaw's planned coal firing is the biggest requirement at 35 MW. You are quite right: coal firing and bio-diesel and bio‑ethanol are just first generation technologies, and there is little room for improvement on those, but we have combined heat and power which uses the heat. It is a kick-start and, as in Denmark where you have these bio-diesel type things, it is more profitable. If you can make the turbines as well, many ancillary industries will grow up too, and that is very important. As I say, combined heat and power is more efficient. A lot of research in the world is going into transforming these woody fuels into woody biomass, which is much more efficient than getting it from wheat or oilseed rape. IGER is very keen on that, and that is second generation technology. Beyond that, there is the bio-refinery concept where you take an added value through the derivation of platform chemicals and you get bio-ethanol and material for combustion. We have bred high sugar grasses there and it is something we are very keen on.

Q394 Mark Williams: Dulas Limited has informed us that the role of biomass in the Energy Route Map was downgraded because of the unfavourable economics of biomass. Could you give us some background on the economics of biomass? I think you have covered that in some of our answers.

Dr Valentine: Yes. It is more profitable now. We have worked out what it will cost over an 18-year spell and it is profitable. It allows farmers to diversify and do something else as well. A lot of the costs are up-front. I think it is important to understand that. They have some grants and there are economies of scale and local supply. We have had to bring in material from Yorkshire for the plant and cuttings grown in Sweden and in Yorkshire. We need local materials to arrive at these sorts of things.

Q395 Chairman: Could I ask you some questions about the way ahead, so to speak? You mentioned that fair and transparent production contracts are needed. Does this statement reflect concerns you have with the current contracting procedures?

Dr Valentine: Yes, and a lot of materials at the moment are produced and sold as commodities. I think that would be very difficult for biomass. Farmers, the intermediary and the end users have the security then if they offer contracts where they each recognise the other's part in the supply chain; costs are known, they are not gambling, and they can specify quality needs as well. I think these relationships need to be built up.

Q396 Chairman: You also mention that a one-stop advice centre is needed for research and development advice in biomass. Could you explain why that is needed?

Dr Valentine: I think that there is a lot of information on biomass spread over a wide range of expertise and no one person knows it all. That information has to be got over. Rather like the Organic Centre Wales, it could be a virtual or it could be real centre and it could also provide the voice to the Assembly. The Organic Centre Wales has a core staff and it is run by a partnership between ADAS, Elm Farm, the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (that is us), the University of Wales and the Soil Association. They co-ordinate matters and they also disseminate information but there is education policy and strategy development within that. I believe there are five co-staff members to that and it has done a tremendous job for the organic sector in Wales.

Q397 Chairman: Finally, we have seen some press cuttings recently suggesting some job losses in IGER. Could you give us some information about the present situation there?

Dr Valentine: Thank you for giving me that opportunity. The Institute was notified late in 2005 of significant cuts in Defra's budget processing for the farming of food. The way this works invariably follows on those contracts up for renewal rather than across the board. Therefore, it seems to have hit the dairy, beef and grazing side of this work. That has left IGER with a ₤2 million deficit in 2006-07, which would mean 40-odd plus jobs would be lost across research, technical support and administration. That could have a dramatic impact on the pipeline from molecular to meat. I think, in terms of the importance of the work, our vision is for a ruminant system based on high forage diets, reduced fertilizers and environmental benefits giving healthy milk and meat. That improves nutrient efficiency, leading to low pollution and high product quality. One challenge is the protein-rich legumes and that is a renewable source of nitrogen fertilizer and it lessens the amount of nitrogen extruded into the air. The work was aimed at producing high antioxidant beef and healthy beef from forage fed animals. There is an interconnection again with that work and global energy. Knowledge of what the bugs can do in the rumen can be transferred to fermentation to produce methane and bio-ethanol and we have recently found as well, if I can mention, on my work on oats that we do that we have recently found using a simulated cow's rumen that if we feed them high oil oats we can decrease the amount of methane released by the ruminate, tremendous quantities, and that is a much more serious greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. There is a 35% reduction in methane from feeding high oil oats compared to wheat. We have only measured it in bottles so far, so we will hope that that could be taken up.

Q398 Mark Williams: You have mentioned your background on the position with the Defra contracts between dairy and grazing. This Committee has just returned back from America where we saw the huge results, on-going research work, from the Department of Energy in America, it is really just to elucidate that a bit more. What you are telling us is there are huge potential research projects that could be run from IGER which would actually lead to expansion rather than contraction that we are currently facing.

Dr Valentine: Yes, there are so many challenges staying with food and farming that we should not be cutting it. Is sustainability just a short phase, or are we over that barrier? I know that Defra are redirecting a lot of funds to climate change, and quite understandably so, but this is also an important area which impacts on the environment and human health and sustainability in general.

Q399 Chairman: Thank you, Dr Valentine. If you feel that you wish to add anything further to us, or the evidence that you have given to us, please send it in as a separate entry memoranda.

Dr Valentine: Thank you very much.

Chairman: Could we ask the Friends of the Earth, Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales and Ramblers' Association Wales to come forward, please.


Memoranda submitted by Friends of the Earth Cymru,

Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales and Ramblers' Association Wales

 

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Mr Gordon James, Assembly Campaigner, Mr Neil Crumpton, Energy and Transport Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Cymru, Mr Peter Ogden, Director, Mr Geoff Sinclair, Adviser to CPRW on Renewable Energy, Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales and Mr Martin Dowson, Countryside Protection Campaigner, Ramblers' Association Wales, gave evidence.

Q400 Chairman: Good morning and welcome to the Welsh Affairs Committee. Could you, for the record, introduce yourselves, please?

Mr Dowson: Good morning. I am Martin Dowson, representing the Ramblers' Association Wales. Do you want some background on the organisation briefly?

Q401 Chairman: No, just introduce yourselves first.

Mr Ogden: I am Peter Ogden, the Director of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. As you can see, we are expecting another colleague of mine; unfortunately they have been delayed on the train, but they are expected in the next few minutes.

Mr James: Gordon James, Friends of the Earth Cymru.

Mr Crumpton: I am Neil Crumpton, Friends of the Earth Cymru.

Q402 Mr Jones: Good morning. My first question is for the witnesses from Friends of the Earth. You have indicated in your submission to the Committee that Wales has frankly an extremely poor record in terms of carbon emissions compared with the rest of the UK. Can you suggest why Wales compares so unfavourably?

Mr James: It is slightly less favourable than England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Our emissions are, I think it is, 0.3% higher than 1990 levels, where the others are a few percentage points below, so basically they are all doing quite badly and they are all failing to meet the targets that have been set by the government for CO2 reductions. The one factor that separates Wales from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, I think, is the high level of manufacturing that there is in Wales. That is one reason. I do not say that explains it all and really, I think, here somebody could spend some time doing a study into this to find out exactly why we are doing less well than our neighbours.

Q403 Mr Jones: So is the answer you do not really know why?

Mr James: No. The fact that there is a higher proportion of manufacturing in Wales is an indication that this could be a reason.

Q404 Mr Jones: There has been no research into this?

Mr James: Not that I am aware of, because what I found when I was producing these figures on CO2 emissions in Wales was it is quite difficult to get hold of them and I think we were the first to produce them and this is one concern I have. It would be good to have more data available in Wales on our energy performance on those CO2 emissions and other emissions and to have this more readily available to the public. For instance, recently I released figures on the local authority emissions of CO2 in Wales and we were the first people to do that.

Q405 Chairman: Could I apologise for interrupting you. Could you raise your voice a little? It is not your fault entirely, there is some background noise behind you.

Mr James: Recently I uncovered some data on local authority emission levels for CO2 and other greenhouse gases for Wales and we had released this information, we were the first to do it, and I am told that a colleague of mine in Friends of the Earth UK was meeting Elliot Morley that week and he did not know about it, but we would be grateful if the Welsh Assembly Government could provide more data on greenhouse gas emissions and energy use and make them more readily available and more accessible to the public.

Q406 Mr Jones: Thank you. The next question is to the Ramblers' Association. You state in section four of your submission that: "recent reports in the UK suggest that whilst energy generation targets are being achieved, CO2 reduction targets are not". Can you give us some more detail about those reports and the figures that they cite?

Mr Dowson: This is just in relation to CO2 reduction and the UK figures related to DTI information which is published publicly. The issue relates to renewable obligation particularly in that respect and the focus on one particular form of renewable energy and the drive that that generates towards meeting the generating target for particularly onshore wind rather than looking at the benefits of CO2 reduction per se, so whilst there is a motive to generate more power, the monitoring in a similar context, as to what my colleagues from the Friends of the Earth have just mentioned, the focus on CO2 reduction as an objective is not as high profile, that is the basis. Similarly in terms of the policy documents and in terms of Welsh Energy Strategy and the Route Map there is very little specifically on CO2 reduction targets for different forms of power generation and again that loses the focus on what we are trying to achieve. So as a general answer to your question, it is an overall UK perspective on are we meeting our new power generation activities but, on the other hand, as was highlighted today, CO2 generally is still increasing.

Q407 Mr Jones: In section 2.3 of your report you state: "Monitoring of actual against predicted CO2 reduction is also necessary to confirm and inform scientific understanding and to guide policy and priorities and to ensure that targets for CO2 reduction are not de-prioritised under the drive for energy generation targets". Could you expand on that comment, please?

Mr Dowson: Yes. It is a similar point really. My background is in physics, I was educated in physics, I have done work in engineering. The logic for me is that if within the context of an energy policy and climate change we need to meet targets to reduce CO2 that should be one of the prime monitors or measures by which our performance is assessed and again, with respect to a lot of the policies, they are very generally worded, generally written, and are not focussed particularly on that outcome, so in a similar way in a recent debate about the Sustainable Energy in the Climate Bill to have quantified targets against specific means should be an appropriate way to guide those directions and we feel that is particularly absent at the moment and I think in terms of how the public perceives the energy package and how it is meeting those climate change objectives, that clarity of how much CO2 is being reduced by which power generation means is a much clearer justification of why investment should be made into one particular form. Again the obvious one is the emphasis on wind power where the debate about its efficiency and efficacy means that perhaps those CO2 targets are not being met in the best way and that other alternative renewals might be more appropriately adopted.

Q408 Albert Owen: This is a question to you all, I think, because you all focus it on energy saving and on the reduction in energy consumption as a key component in reducing CO2. Can you outline this in greater detail, what you really mean by that, how is it achievable?

Mr Dowson: I think this is in the efficiency of energy production. If we carry on generating energy, in a sense it will potentially promote increased energy use, so energy saving is a much more supportive way of seeking our targets for climate change improvement. Potentially the ways in which it could be used to generate that have been highlighted through the Sustainable Development Commission. They highlight energy saving as a means of one of the most cost-effective ways of combating CO2 and means such as education and information to the public as ways they might adopt those, some form of incentives to promote the use of those, such as energy efficiency in the home, providing good benchmarks, for example, by local government, by central government local authorities as leaders and exemplars in energy saving and perhaps the final one in promoting micro-generation and the principle that people generating energy in a community are perhaps more motivated to save energy when they are responsible for the means of output in the first place.

Q409 Albert Owen: Thank you. Mr Ogden?

Mr Ogden: Yes, I mean I think we would look at it from three points of view. There is the issue of incentives, there is the issue of education and then there is the issue of regulation and clearly the public at the moment do not really equate the switching on the light with the energy conservation agenda, so there is a big task in terms of making that connection. In terms of incentives, then there could be fiscal incentives which reduce things like the rate of corporation tax on business, or the rate of council tax on energy efficient buildings. There are obviously planning gains that can be achieved through sensible good design, energy efficiency designs, things like VAT reduction on energy efficient and low energy equipment, so the whole concept of driving it through fiscal or policy change. Then simple things maybe at the domestic level which is where clearly we are aiming the target and possible introduction of the smart car technology where people actually understand what are the huge energy burning elements of their life. Really we would be looking at positive statements in terms of education and fiscal policy and possibly, if need be, the regulatory mechanisms.

Mr James: As you see from the evidence we have submitted there is actually a greater significance to saving more energy and we have been critical of the Welsh Assembly Government's paper, Energy Saving Wales and it is even weaker than the ----

Q410 Chairman: Could you raise up your voice a little?

Mr James: It is even weaker than the UK Government paper in relation to efficiency ----

Q411 Albert Owen: Can you give some examples?

Mr James: The Defra paper sets targets for reduction of energy use in public buildings and government owned buildings. The Welsh Assembly Government states that we will have an energy study each year to look at how much energy we are using. There is a great difference in that, we would be very critical of that. Clearly energy saving has a huge potential, it has got economic, environmental and social benefits as a classic example of sustainable development, reducing environmental pollution, reducing fuel bills in people's pockets, helping to address fuel poverty, hypothermia and creating jobs. The National Audit Office, for instance, estimated that the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme created 5,000 jobs a year. This is an ideal solution, I think, for many of the problems we face in Wales, that is why we were disappointed in the Welsh Assembly Government's failure to do more on this and we were very critical of the fact that we have to look at the areas where the Assembly Government does have power and they do fund the whole energy efficiency scheme and the year before last it was about the only flat line in the Assembly budget, no more money was going to it, and that seems to us to be rather foolish considering the number of benefits that arise from saving energy. But we also have to be careful, we have known for years that saving energy is a good thing, but we are still using more and more energy and sometimes you hear the arguments, "We don't need wind power, we need to save more energy, we would not need wind", but we need a package of measures - we will say more about this later, I suspect - but we have to be careful. For instance, if you have a home and you switch to a renewable source of electricity, that is a 100% switch from coal to wind, if you invest in energy saving measures in the home, what often happens is that people get used to having a warmer home, the thermostat goes higher, and any money they save from lower fuel bills is spent on more appliances in the house, so it does have its downside as well. As well as working for Friends of the Earth, I have also been very involved with the West Wales Eco Centre where we have an energy efficiency advice centre and one thing I would like to see in Wales is the work of organisations like that given more support; they have to spend a lot of time looking for funding to survive. I would like to see, quite frankly, an energy efficiency advice centre in every county in Wales. We need it locally for people to access so that they can go there, they can find out exactly how much energy they are using in the home, obviously do their arithmetic, how much they can save, what grants are available, what CO2 reductions they can make, what micro generation appliances are available.

Q412 Albert Owen: Thank you, there is enough there. I do not know if it is the responsibility of just the local authority, I think the supplying companies as well should be responsible. You mentioned, I think two of you have now mentioned, micro generation and what you said was very interesting about the community involvement. Do you have an opinion, Friends of the Earth, on this? I mean is that the way you see it closer to the community, as simple as that, if the community understand more, are better educated, more informed then that will lead to efficiency savings?

Mr Crumpton: I would say it is across the board in terms of individuals/consumers in terms of micro efficient boilers and small wind turbines, solar panels, those things. It is really up to consumers to buy. If there are incentives around it would certainly help. The energy efficiency improvement does, in a way, cause that rebound effect, or has historically, but because fuel prices are increasing now we may be in a different situation from now on. It is unlikely that the fuel price, I would have thought, gas particularly, is likely to come down to previous low levels, so there may be a kind of encouragement that we have not seen before. The technologies that are becoming available now for micro generation have a potentially greater ability to transform the electricity network within a couple of decades, or possibly a bit more, but in terms of community, obviously any community action would be good, but in the case of small wind turbines it is very difficult to get a community together to invest in one, we need an environmental statement which is often prohibitive, so it does not necessarily mean that there will be small wind turbines; there might be domestic wind turbines, but not necessarily a range of small ones.

Q413 Albert Owen: Perhaps that is an area where the local authority could take the lead with its own buildings to start with.

Mr Ogden: I think it is the psychology of it. Micro generation brings the issue of energy closer to the individual and the more that people feel that relationship, then the more that they are likely to be conscious of how they are using energy and how energy can be created in a sustainable way. I mean that we would certainly support the increased use of the micro generation initiatives and we look forward obviously to the Assembly's proposed strategy on that, but I think there are clearly some issues associated with it which we need to be conscious of. There is a suggestion, for instance, that all micro generation should become committed development. Clearly from a landscape point of view, which is our interest, we have to be careful that we are not throwing the baby out with the bath water, to use the phrase. So, yes, there is an interest, but bringing it closer to the community is important and we would urge that the Assembly Government looks at the hydro area particularly because this does seem to be an area in Wales where there is big potential and that maybe some of the major schemes that have been looked at in the past in terms of the portfolio for the big reservoirs could be down-scaled so that water from those sources could be used more locally in a community context, because the economics to scale are very different for a major company as opposed to a community. So I think personalising the issue would have great merit both in terms of the immediate benefits that CO2 reductions would bring and bringing it close to the individual.

Q414 Albert Owen: Do you want to add anything?

Mr Dowson: Probably just to reiterate really, if this is people's psychology where the energy has come from, how to adopt the financial incentives to make that possible and feasible and probably in relation to energy conservation new residential buildings, how to make that part of a requirement in planning regulations, that is energy savings and potentially energy generation form part of new build.

Mr James: Is it all right to say something on micro generation? The Energy Savings Trust has recently produced a report and they estimate that we could cut suitable emissions from electricity by about a third over the next 30 years or so, but at the moment we hear that Peter Hain put up PVs on his roof and that David Cameron, I think, is going to have a little wind turbine, but they are out of the reach of most people, they are simply too expensive. I had a meeting recently with a civil servant of the Assembly who is dealing with micro generation and I am very pleased to say that the Welsh Assembly Government is going to produce a micro generation strategy action plan later this year, it is very welcome, and they are going to try and focus it more on the local level to enable people to move forward in this, but we really do have a problem with the cost and I think whatever we are going to discuss today, we are going to have to keep coming back to that, to the cost. I know there are some objections to wind energy, but it is one of the most cost-effective renewable options and whatever we decide to do somebody is going to object. Hydro electricity, I am not so sure that there is that big a resource in Wales, but also you find that the anglers will be strongly opposed to hydro electric schemes being implemented, so whatever you do you are going to hit ----

Albert Owen: Yes, I fully understand that.

Q415 David Davies: This is to Friends of the Earth. You cited Carbon Trust figures which show or suggest that nuclear power produces 50% more greenhouse gas emissions than wind power. Was that calculated at per kilowatt hour or how was it calculated?

Mr James: I am sorry, I do not think that source is the Carbon Trust for that figure, is it?

Q416 David Davies: That is what I have got here, but I have seen the figures somewhere else in the submission.

Mr James: The Carbon Trust data I used was simply about energy use in Wales, but the figure of carbon emissions from nuclear power was 50% more than wind came from another source ----

Q417 David Davies: Regardless of where it came from, do you accept that figure or not?

Mr James: There are a number of figures, there are a number of studies looking at the life cycle analysis, the carbon budget of nuclear power and started off with Dr Mortimer back in the 1970s from Sheffield University at the time of the Hinkley C Public Inquiry produced data and I think at that time he was suggesting that the CO2 emissions from nuclear power were three times more than wind and then you have the ----

Q418 David Davies: How do they calculate this? Is it done by looking at the life span of nuclear power station over, say, 50 years and then calculating the total amount of carbon emitted during the process of mining for uranium? I mean there is no carbon emission in the generation of nuclear power, is there?

Mr James: Very briefly, the Sustainable Development Commission looked at the whole business of deriving the fuel, building the power station, but they do not look at decommissioning and treatment of waste. Other studies like the Ocker Institute in Germany, the ex Turner EC Study in 1998, you have got the famous Smith Storm Study from the Netherlands now and you have got the Mortimer Study, but those studies look at the whole CO2 emissions from extracting the old, processing, transportation, construction, decommissioning and looking after the waste.

Mr Crumpton: The Sustainable Development Commission basically said that the emissions from nuclear power and wind power - this is presumably onshore wind power - are about the same, so there is no major difference.

Q419 David Davies: In that case what we are saying in simple terms is that there is no emission in the generation of the electricity, but there is an indirect emission in terms of getting the equipment there, building your wind farm, smelting the iron or whatever, driving the stuff there, there is an indirect emission. Presumably, though, if you looked at it in kilowatt hours and you take into account the enormous extra increase in energy that a nuclear power station generates, then it is a fairly small amount of ----

Mr Crumpton: It is per kilowatt hour, so it is all done per kilowatt hour. Just on the point of the SDC, it is slightly unclear because they are estimating that the uranium resource, and there is a big debate about this, the oil quality will go down in future decades and how fast that goes down, which would require more energy to crush it and separate the uranium, and that depends on how many nuclear reactors there are and their study only goes up to 2025.

Q420 David Davies: Just let me be a bit of provocative. Of course there is a bit of indirect carbon emission in terms of putting the plant there, just as there is with wind power. You are not really prepared to accept that wind power generates a certain amount of carbon emissions, because clearly you say in the submission in the myth, "Wind energy will not help climate change. Wind generation produces no carbon emissions". I think you have already ----

Mr James: I think that is from the DTI statement.

Q421 David Davies: This is actually included in your submission.

Mr James: Yes, I have put in the DTI statement on the myths of wind energy, so I cannot alter what they have written, I simply transposed it as it is.

Q422 David Davies: This is a bit of a myth, as an environmental group our top priority surely is climate change and this is what this is all about at the end of the day. It is not about costs or about how many jobs are generated, all that is relevant, but the ultimate aim here is climate change. You are really producing something which you know not to be true, "Wind generation produces no carbon emissions". You have accepted the alternate figures which show that indirectly wind does produce carbon emissions just as nuclear power does. Surely you ought to be a bit more fair minded if we are to ----

Mr James: Really, I think if you have read our submission ----

Q423 David Davies: I have.

Mr James: You will appreciate that climate change really is top of the agenda.

Q424 David Davies: Absolutely.

Mr James: And on the news last night again CO2 emissions are rising faster, higher than ever. Every week on the BBC Science website there is new research, it is extremely worrying, but to come back on this, really when I put in information provided by another organisation I cannot alter that, this is the DTI opinion.

Q425 David Davies: It is an error then?

Mr James: No, it is on behalf of the DTI, they should have said "directly".

Q426 David Davies: It is a basic error to say that wind generation produces quite a lot ----

Mr Crumpton: That is an operation, as you have just said, nuclear power as wind power in operational mode produces virtually none, other than visits for maintenance purposes, it is in the life cycle analysis when ----

Q427 David Davies: Both of them do.

Mr Crumpton: Then both of them do to a certain degree.

Q428 David Davies: Thank you, I am happy with that. The other question I have got is how much of the Welsh Assembly Government strategic areas identified in TAN 8 are forest land and how many wind turbines would have to be built in order to replace the contribution which the felled trees currently make to ---- I bet you have not got that one, have you?

Mr James: I really do not know if it is up to us to provide that kind of information about how much of the land is forested land. We have many issues to deal with and we do not have time to look in detail at every proposed area, but I am working closely with an environmental consultant, I met him last week, who was working on the SSAs and we shall be working closely with him. If he raises any concerns about adverse impacts on wildlife or birds or the ecology those issues will be brought to our attention and we take them on board.

Mr Crumpton: I would just say that the wood harvested would probably either end up in paper, so obviously it has got to come from somewhere, and if the Institute of Grassland Research is right then perhaps some of those areas could be replanted with some energy crop, I do not know, but, why not, we are in an urgent situation.

Q429 Chairman: Mr Ogden?

Mr Ogden: I think there is an issue about the forestry land because it was very obvious during the consultations which led up to the publication of the technical advisory note that there was an issue about land ownership and that it was going to be far easier to implement this, what we believe is a flawed approach towards the development of onshore wind, with fewer land owners to have to deal with than more land owners and clearly it seems very obvious that the agenda moved significantly towards the public estate, ie, the forestry land that was owned by the Welsh Assembly Government, so certainly whilst we have not got the figures of exactly what proportion of land is within SSAs and forestry owned, it is very obvious that the agenda was driven to a great extent in defining those SSAs by the portfolio of forestry estates.

Q430 Mark Williams: Do you, therefore, share the concerns expressed by some about the capacity of wind farms to annexe adjacent land with possible expansion of onshore wind farm sites, do you share those concerns? There are suggestions there is a capacity for wind farm sites, onshore wind farms to compulsorily purchase adjacent land for the expansion of those large wind ----

Mr Ogden: I mean clearly our position is as in the submission that we have a grave concern about the agenda for onshore wind. We would find it perverse if there were any compulsory purchase powers which any organisation had to acquire land for the purposes of what we feel is a flawed technology.

Mr Dowson: I believe there is a report by a consultant which re-studied the TAN 8 areas and they quote 57% of the SSAs are forested land in their study and so if you need information I can probably forward that to you.

Q431 Chairman: Could you raise your voice a little?

Mr Dowson: Yes. If you need the title of that report I can always forward that to you, but they quote 57% of the SSAs are forested land and they are similar concerns to my colleague in CPRW regarding compulsory purchase.

Q432 Chairman: Have you really been suggesting, you have not said it, but I mean I am teasing this out, is there any conflict of interest here that should have been addressed?

Mr Dowson: With respect to forestry or ----

Q433 Chairman: Yes, the policy is being driven in a particular direction, there are passages being eased as a consequence of the relationship.

Mr Dowson: I think our general perspective would be the overall onshore wind development we believe is being over-promoted as an overall principle. As regards the forested areas that has a particular aspect with relation to Welsh Assembly woodlands in that they were dedicated for open access and as a walking organisation we believe there is a conflict of interest from a recreational amenity point of view that, having received that right of access a year ago, we are about to have that removed in future.

Mr Ogden: It seems to us that the agenda for onshore wind was established prior to all the strategic thinking being completed and that, I think as my colleague from the Ramblers says, the easiest and the slickest way of achieving that was by using the public estate. I mean we had a situation, where the 4 terawatt hour target was actually established before the policy framework was actually derived, so the TAN 8 was the only way in which the land use planning system could look at delivering it and there is no point in having a planning system if it cannot be delivered through the estate portfolio, so we see that there was a major problem in the way in which the TAN 8 agenda was derived.

Chairman: We are anticipating similar questions later on actually.

Q434 Nia Griffith: If I could just return to nuclear energy. Friends of the Earth state that the risk of nuclear power far outweigh the benefits. I wonder if you could perhaps elaborate for us the risks and benefits of nuclear power as you see it?

Mr James: Nuclear power produces extremely toxic substances which will be hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years. They do this in order to provide just a part of our electricity. Now this is a huge risk that they we are taking. Last year we had a little demonstration in Caerleon when the nuclear industry was meeting there for a conference. We put two volunteers at the gate entrance dressed as Roman centurions just to demonstrate the point that if the Romans, when they were in Caerleon, had nuclear power, they would still be guarding it. So we are running a major risk producing very toxic material which will remain toxic for such a length of time, who on earth is going to be around to safeguard it, to ensure that it does not get into the environment, to ensure that it does not get into unsafe hands, to ensure that it is not picked up by terrorists. That, in itself, is a major concern. In addition to that, if you see what is happening in the world today, there is an awful lot of fuss now because Iran wants nuclear power, which they say is peaceful, others disagree. If we are going to say that we need nuclear power to help us meet our carbon dioxide targets, well it is good enough for any other country, is it not? There is also the real risk of terrorist attack. There have been reports that documents uncovered following 9/11 indicated that al-Qaeda and other organisations were thinking of targeting nuclear power stations. There have been two incidences that I know of in Chechnya and Australia where people were arrested close to nuclear facilities, so those are the security issues. There is the issue of proliferation, how can we prevent other countries saying, "We want it, we want it for civil purposes" and of course then they can become military purposes. It is a huge risk we are running just to provide a small portion of our electricity which can be provided by other means which are probably certainly safer and probably more cost effective.

Q435 David Davies: First of all, Gordon, I will forgive you for this, but the question actually was, "What are the benefits", not the disadvantages. You have mentioned the argument about other countries wanting to get hold of nuclear power technology. I mean the reality is they are allowed to do that, Iran is perfectly legitimately allowed to have nuclear technology for power generation purposes. The issue there is that they will not allow the International Atomic Energy Authority to inspect to ensure that they are not building weapons. So actually that is a non-argument, because every country in the world has got the right to pursue nuclear power for energy purposes, including Iran ----

Mr James: I think it is a matter of ----

David Davies: Not really, it is whether we have the ----

Chairman: Mr Davies, question please, bring your comments to a conclusion.

Q436 David Davies: The question is this: you stated in your submission that if we doubled the number of nuclear power stations we would produce an 8% reduction in global warming gases. We would have to build probably five times as many wind farms as we have got at the moment in order to make that same reduction, so is this argument in your submission not a case for saying, "Why bother with wind farms either, we would have to build so many of them for such a tiny reduction in the amount of global warming gases that there is not much point in having them"?

Mr James: Wind farms do not leave our future generations with a horrific legacy that nuclear power will leave to them.

Q437 David Davies: There will not be future generations if we do not sort out the climate change.

Mr James: If I may answer, please? You will see, I think, that Neil will come in shortly about the actual contribution that wind energy can make, but certainly most people would find wind energy and certainly the package of renewable energy systems much more acceptable than nuclear power. We run a huge risk by embarking on this type of energy for limited benefit, benefit which could be gained by other purposes and I do not know, Neil, if you want to say anything about the actual figures on the amount of wind? Not only wind, of course, there is tidal lagoons and energy crops and everything else.

Mr Crumpton: Just briefly. The amounts of energy supplied to the UK by nuclear power are 3.6% of our energy demand. That is not exactly the primary input, but that is effectively when you have taken all the losses out in generations through steam turbines or whatever, 3.6%, so we have to take that into context. Some people think, in the media as well, exchange energy with electricity with power and say nuclear is 20% and so there is a lot of ----

Q438 Albert Owen: Just to take up what my colleague, Mr Davies, was saying there. I accept that there is a poor legacy of the handling of waste thus far and that is not going to go away, but do you not accept that the new technology available and the new generations that are being built around the world, they are far more efficient and I heard a figure yesterday, we can bandy figures about all day I know that, from the CBI which says that the proposal to replace the current nuclear facilities in Britain with new build would only produce an additional 10% which can be stored far more efficiently, which is why countries like Finland are going ahead with this. Do you accept that?

Mr Crumpton: When the CBI talks about 10% - I presume you are talking about the waste?

Q439 Albert Owen: Additional waste, yes.

Mr Crumpton: It is additional waste in terms of you have to look at whether it is in volume or toxicity and I think it is mainly talking about the volume. There are other studies which say that essentially ----

Q440 Albert Owen: I feel I must push you on this. I am accepting that there is a legacy with the waste, and we can measure like with like and that is what I am asking you to do, I am asking you the new waste that will be produced from new facilities are far more efficient and produce less high toxic waste, because it is only the high toxic waste that ----

Mr James: It produces more high toxic waste, not less.

Q441 Albert Owen: Can I finish? So when I accept that we have a poor legacy and we need to manage it better, do you not accept that future generations will handle the waste better, it is a simple question?

Mr James: Oh gosh, no. There can be no guarantee that this extremely hazardous material can be handled safely for hundreds and thousands of years.

Q442 Albert Owen: There are guarantees that it will be handled better than it has been, that is the question I am asking.

Mr James: The fact record of the nuclear industry is so poor I find it difficult to have much confidence in it.

Q443 Albert Owen: Why do you think Finland are going ahead with it then and they have far more efficient storage?

Mr James: If I can come back ----

Q444 Albert Owen: Can you answer the question?

Mr James: I am answering your questions, there were two questions. The waste from the new generation of power stations, if you read what Catherine Mitchell has written. Catherine Mitchell was an advisor to the UK Government on energy issues, she had to produce an Energy White Paper, she is now at Warwick Business School, wrote a very good article in The Guardian last year and in that she states, "Yes, there is less volume of waste, but it is more toxic", so you have really got the same problem, if not a worse problem. In Finland, I visited Finland when I ran the Pembrokeshire Energy Agency, I was twinned with an energy agency in Finland, and I just cannot for the life of me understand why they do not use more timber as a source of energy, but they have decided to go down the nuclear route, and it is quite interesting that the Sustainable Development Commission refers to the new nuclear build that they are embarking on in Finland as being couched in hidden subsidies and the European Renewable Energy Federation has referred the whole deal to the European Commission because they believe it is breaching a number of European regulations.

Q445 Albert Owen: That might be so, but do you not accept that the way that they are storing their long-term high-risk nuclear waste is more efficient than what we have done currently and if we were to follow that technology we would be in a more efficient situation? That is a simple question, we can talk about subsidies and wind and all the others as well.

Mr James: I am not sure what the system is.

Q446 Albert Owen: I suggest you look at it before you make those broad statements, with respect.

Mr James: Sorry, with what broad statements?

Q447 Albert Owen: The broad statements about the legacy lasting for hundreds of years. I think if we do it more efficiently ----

Mr James: With due respect, Mr Owen, I do not think that is a broad statement, I think that is a statement of fact. We are producing extremely toxic material which will be hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years and I do not know if anybody can devise a foolproof safe system for storing that material and keeping it out of the hands of undesirables for the natural environment

Albert Owen: We can be more efficient and that is the point I am making.

Chairman: We have explored that as thoroughly as we could at this point. Could I now return to Nia Griffith.

Q448 Nia Griffith: I think you have actually touched on this really that Friends of the Earth in their submission on page 9 argue that "both the CBI Wales and Wales TUC, make the mistaken claim that nuclear power provided 30% of Wales' energy as opposed to electricity". You add, "This is a basic error that significantly overstates the ability of nuclear power to play a meaningful role in achieving energy security and reducing carbon dioxide emissions". Perhaps if you can just re-state very clearly for us that difference between energy and electricity?

Mr Crumpton: Electricity is probably about 30% of emissions; it is a bit less in terms of actual energy use. I have not got the exact figures, but that is roughly where it is. If Wilfa is going at about 900 megawatts fullish output and then it is generating about 8 terawatt hours a year, Wales's demand on a UK capital basis, just dividing populations by total UK electricity demand, is 19.45, so that is about two-fifths. However, Wilfa does not always operate and we have calculated it is about 55-60% load factor overall since commissioning for a 15 months' outage there, so it can be a major supplier and sometimes not.

Q449 Albert Owen: It is flexible?

Mr Crumpton: It is variable in a different way to wind power.

Mr James: I have picked up those comments from the CBI because shortly before that people were supporting a re-consideration of nuclear power and stating it must be based on facts and I was very surprised that they should have been so loose with their facts on this particular point.

Q450 Mark Williams: You argue in your written evidence, "We believe the Welsh Assembly should be given the powers to both establish more stringent building regulations for Wales and to decide on power station consents of over 50 megawatts". I can think of a perfect example of a wind farm in my constituency where this was very relevant a few years ago. Why do you take the view that there should be that devolution of responsibility to the National Assembly?

Mr James: At the moment what we see is the Welsh Assembly really showing a great interest in energy issues and trying to formulate relevant policies, but they do not have the power, the power for most of those policies still reside at Westminster, it is almost like a case of shadow boxing, and I think that they have stated they would like Wales to be a global leader in clean energy and I fully support that, I think it is a marvellous aim, but how can we do that if the powers for most of the things you want to do still reside at Westminster and it does seem a bit strange that powers for other areas, important areas like economic development and transport and health and education have been devolved, but this area has not been devolved, and certainly if you want Wales to be a global leader in clean energy would it not be wonderful to have much more realistic building regulations, much tougher regulations that the housing stock in Wales would be much more energy efficient, this would be a very straightforward thing that we could lead on in Wales on the 50 megawatt power station consents. I think everybody would prefer that Wales could make decisions on this themselves, we need local decision making. On the incidence of Cefn Croes it did not sound very good when the decision was made by a DTI minister in London, it would have been much better if that decision had been made in Cardiff.

Mr Crumpton: Essentially, in terms of Cefn Croes, the local authority supported it, the Assembly did not object to it, so it was a rubber stamping exercise more than anything else at DTI level, Secretary of State, but, even so, we would still prefer those choices to be made in Wales to really address that issue that it has taken a decision in London.

Q451 Mark Williams: How do you respond to the view, and it is not a view I share, that if Welsh targets on reduction are meaningless, they have to be taken in a UK context?

Mr James: On carbon dioxide emissions?

Q452 Mark Williams: Yes.

Mr James: This illustrates the paradox very well, I think, because the Welsh Assembly Government is obliged to try and leap the UK government target of a 20% reduction on CO2 from 1990 levels by 2010 and, at the same time, they set their own target, separate target, for a 20% reduction in 2000 and 2020. What is the point, why do we not just have the one target and everybody work towards it?

Mr Ogden: I mean, I think, if I may add, that there is an important issue as well that the original 50 megawatt threshold was never designed for the type of power generation situation that we are in now and really when you look at the 50 megawatt threshold it is a comparatively small, certainly in terms of wind, area of land that is involved. Those small areas should be within the remit of the Assembly, these are local issues. The scale, the size of wind turbines and outputs is increasing and yet the local population just do not have that opportunity ----

Q453 Mark Williams: Certainly in the context of Cefn Croes it was a big scheme, notwithstanding what was said about the local authority, actually of course you are quite right, the issue of public confidence in a system with any of what we have been talking about this morning to have any relevance at all there has to be a certain amount of public confidence. Certainly in the Cefn Croes debate what there was not was much broader public confidence in the decision that was made, as you say, because at the end of the day it was a signature taken on a letter here rather than Cardiff.

Mr Ogden: And the public feel alienated from the process as well when in fact it is being decided a long way from home.

Q454 Mrs James: On page 9 of your report you say that "nuclear has always been costlier than promised and has always relied on public subsidies". This argument has also been used about wind energy. Do you have any figures that compare the real cost of wind energy with the real cost of nuclear?

Mr James: The Sustainable Development Commission's report last week on nuclear power looked carefully at this and they stated it is very difficult to get an accurate figure. There was so many issues to be taken into consideration, the cost of decommissioning, the cost of storage, et cetera, et cetera, but what we do know is that over the years nuclear power has had massive subsidies. We should all remember that of course this was going to be the new wonderful technology that would be too cheap to meter. It turned out to be a nightmare of subsidies and over-spend and if you look at reports, I have got a number of reports here, such as this one from the New Economics Foundation, Energy choices in an age of global warming. They give some very good examples of the cost over earnings and time over earnings that have repeatedly blighted the nuclear industry which makes it very difficult for us to have faith in what they are saying now, but overall I think the comparisons of wind and nuclear power, wind comes out more favourably, certainly with this report and the Sustainable Development Commission report and other reports. Neil, would you like to say something on that?

Mr Crumpton: Only that the reactor types that may get chosen for the UK, that is the AP1000 and the European reactor that has been built in Finland and none have been built yet so nobody knows. The Finnish plant is a not-for-profit consortium of heavy electricity users, so it is corporate finance. We would not be financing nuclear power stations in that way anyway, so that is very much a one-off scheme, so there is no data from which to really estimate the capital cost of a nuclear power station which is a significant part of its overall costs. It is the opposite with certainly onshore wind where the costs are known to a great degree and essentially falling as the technology improves as it were. The difference in a way is that the wind energy is fairly new technology, it has been around ten years, and it still needs some subsidies, especially offshore, I would suggest, to enable it to develop and give it a fair chance of competing against what are hitherto traditional heavily subsidised industries. I think the SDC Commission is probably the best paper I have seen on the subject.

Mr James: Mr Chairman, I think you mentioned earlier we could submit further evidence, so I would like to recommend two studies I have recently come across looking at the costs of nuclear power and renewables and there is one by Steve Thomas of Canterbury University who looks at the economics of nuclear power and he says that many of the recent studies he finds give very favourable interpretations and in his opinion even 4p a unit is a very generous estimate for nuclear power and there is another paper which has just been produced by Professor K Barnham of the Physics Department of Imperial College London in the latest issue of Nature magazine where he argues that actually photovoltaics could replace the nuclear contribution cost effectively, you do not need nuclear, it can all be done by photovoltaics, which I think is a very exciting idea that we can down this clean energy path cost effectively.

Q455 Chairman: That would be very helpful if you could send those references forward to us.

Mr Dowson: The cost issue, the waste disposal, the waste management, should form part of those costs. Similarly with environmental cost of either option is an important part of the aspect rather than generation costs per se.

Mr Ogden: I think if I may just add as well that although it is easy to talk in hard economic cost, there is also the cost to the landscape. The environment of Wales is worth £6 billion a year to the economy. If we have a legacy of any form of power generation which is devaluing the importance of that landscape, then the compensatory cost is actually very high in terms of replacing what is pristine and unspoilt landscape with one which is scarred by any form of development, transmission power lines and the public is denied getting the benefit from using that which so many people come to Wales for.

Mr James: Can I make a comment on that, Chairman? The Sustainable Development Commission looked at the land usage for nuclear as compared to wind and concluded it was comparable, the land usage for the whole nuclear process, and when we talk about landscape, I also think that the landscape in third world countries, in Bangladesh and Africa and the Pacific islands, because those people are not just going to lose their landscape, they are going to lose their land, they are losing everything because of the impact of climate change and if we are saying, rich industrial countries, we are the ones who have produced the gases that are causing climate change, if we now turn around and say, "We are not prepared to have an occasional structure on a landscape to help these people", then those people are then going to suffer far greater than us. I think we are being irresponsible.

Q456 David Davies: I wanted to welcome, as Gordon has just said, if we need to have a structure that might be unpopular in order to prevent climate change, then obviously we should be prepared to do so. Can we all therefore agree that the most important problem that we face is climate change, the second one is the immediate impact that any technology for energy we have imposes on our environment and very much the third priority is the cost, it is nowhere here the main issue at stake and, as you say, if we need to build something, it may be unpopular, in order to prevent climate change from taking place, then we should be willing to do that.

Mr James: But what concerns me, you see, is almost every solution that is proposed for addressing climate change is opposed by some people, whether it is wind. We have seen wood burning plants fail, we have seen energy crops fail, we have seen opinion polls showing far greater opposition and this is my concern, we are saying, "No, no, no" far too often. The climate change is now such a crisis we have to learn to say "yes" more often.

Chairman: We seem to be going over the same ground. Could we now move on for the moment and I would like to move on to marine technologies.

Q457 Mrs James: I have got a question that is directed to Friends of the Earth and then I have two questions for CPRW. Friends of the Earth have given us a list of renewable projects that could replace nuclear technologies in Wales and this includes tidal lagoons in Swansea Bay and in the Severn Estuary. How close do you think these projects are to being able to generate sufficient energy to replace existing more traditional sources, including nuclear?

Mr Crumpton: I would say that the tidal lagoons, it is difficult to say how much resource could be harnessed. These would be very site specific projects. The Swansea Bay lagoon is essentially a starter scheme to show that the technology works to investors and to get investor confidence going and after that there could be benefits in terms of lagoons, in terms of coastal processes, coastal defences. Denbighshire Council have already stated that there could be a benefit to the Towyn area seafronts by a large tidal lagoon there, so they are a multi-faceted development, but I would like to see one or two schemes built before I would suggest how much could be generated overall around Wales. The estimate put forward by the company Tidal Electric is 24 terawatt hours a year from the Severn Estuary alone, that is about three nuclear power stations' worth. It also just happens to be slightly more than Wales consumes in electricity terms, but obviously half would be on the English side of the water, as it were. In terms of marine current turbines, which is the underwater wind flower, for want of a better description, the DTI did some resource assessments a couple of years ago and there are maps of the resource around the UK. The red areas which show the highest tidal resource and the areas which are likely to be the most cost competitive, are a certain area in the Severn Estuary, off the Devon coast and particularly around Wales, the north coast of Anglesey and if you look at the estimated total tidal stream resource around the UK is estimated at something like 35-40 terawatt hours a year, that is 10% of the UK's electricity generation and so that area off the north coast of Anglesey would seem to suggest that there is several terawatt hours a year there and the company developing the marine current turbines have suggested that there may be up to several hundred megawatts, certainly enough to supply Anglesey Aluminium with 250 megawatts average annually. Whether it could produce about the same as Wilfa nuclear power station of about 660, we do not know. We understand that the Assembly Government is doing a resource assessment, they did it a couple of years ago to get everything right. What I would say with objective one, if we were going to go down the marine current turbine routes to generate for Anglesey Aluminium, then we should get the objective one to get the manufacturing base on Anglesey as well and that would begin to tackle the employment issues when Wilfa closes.

Q458 Mrs James: There are two parts to my next question which are to CPRW. You mention in paragraph 2.10 of your submission that the opportunities for developing marine and offshore technologies in Wales are being deliberately suppressed. Have you any evidence to support this claim?

Mr Ogden: I think there are a number of factors. Obviously the evidence of the Friends of the Earth has alluded to the fact that there has not been the incentive, the desire, on the part of the Assembly to promote these technologies. We would also go further by saying that clearly the way in which the agenda for wind manifest itself appear to us to be a positive way of discriminating against all the other technologies which could have the legitimacy of coming forward sooner rather than later, so it was a question of the lack of the incentives to develop the research and certainly there were examples of where individual schemes were being proposed and were not being funded by the Assembly Government. There seemed to be this desire to reject the short-term benefits and the short-term opportunity for marine technology and obviously the mechanics, as I say, of the way in with the TAN 8 process evolved.

Q459 Mrs James: Thank you. You also state that tidal lagoons are reliably forecast to contribute 0.33 terawatt hours per annum of power by 2010. Is this a Wales or a UK figure?

Mr Ogden: That was the figure that was quoted in a Tidal Energy press release, but certainly articles which we have published in our magazine by the Environment Trust which looks at the whole issue and the opportunity of marine technology refers to the fact that this approach and I am quoting, "This approach could provide up to 20% of the electricity demand within 15 years" and that is talking about offshore barrages. So that is the basis obviously for our position in the fact that we believe marine technologies do have this opportunity and take the pressure off the need to actually sacrifice areas of terrestrial and for other technologies which many people now believe are inefficient.

Q460 Mrs James: Would you agree that it is an extremely promising avenue that we should be investigating?

Mr Ogden: Most definitely and, yes, we would obviously welcome any opportunities where those schemes are brought forward sooner rather than later.

Mr Sinclair: Could I add to that? Yes, I would like to say that CPRW is really very much of a one with Friends of the Earth and several other partners as far as tidal lagoons is concerned. That is, of course, just one form of marine renewable which the UK White Paper looked forward to marine renewables very positively. As far as the marine version of wind turbines is concerned, CPRW has taken the view that while there will always be a visual impact on coast lines, the much greater size of installations which is possible in the round two variant of offshore wind turbines, probably gives us an equation which is very challenging, because the amount of generation that it can produce, not only through the size and the extra distance away from the coast now on round two, but also the improved capacity factor which is being forecast for offshore wind as opposed to onshore wind makes the rewards so great that perhaps some sacrifice is called for there if it helps spare the excessive development as we see it of terrestrial wind power. There has been some discussion lately about the extra cost of installing offshore wind and while, of course, that is understandable and inevitable to some extent, I think CPRW would agree very much with Greenpeace who have been quoted recently by saying that what is really needed is a differential, a much more generous form of support for offshore wind compared to onshore wind and I can produce, Dr Francis, an extract from the reputed publication ENDS from which that quotation is taken, if that would be helpful to you. We have now reached the point, by the way, that in England - I do these statistics when I am awake and cannot sleep at night - England has reached the point where the installed offshore capacity from three major and one minor offshore wind installation has now just overtaken the potential for electricity production from 54 onshore installations which has taken, of course, 11 or 12 years to assemble, so that is the stage that has just about been reached in England. It has been advanced recently that offshore wind is actually ----

Chairman: Can I hold you up for a moment, because you seem to have drifted into wind power somehow or other. Can I ask Mrs James if there are any other supplementary questions she wishes to ask?

Q461 Mrs James: Not at the moment, thank you.

Mr Sinclair: I was just trying to do the offshore variant.

Q462 Chairman: We may lead into that in a moment, but we are anxious to ask some questions on wind power, that leads us nicely into that.

Mr Sinclair: I see, yes.

Q463 Nia Griffith: If we can just pursue the wind issue. Can I just ask a rather unusual question to start with, I do not know whether anybody has the technical expertise, but we are talking about these marine current turbines and we are also talking about offshore wind. Has anybody actually combined the two so that you can have both ends going at once, as it were?

Mr Crumpton: I think the answer is "no". I mean the marine current turbines are in an early stage of development; several people do ask that kind of question though. The problem is that the marine current turbines would be likely built at maybe one to a few miles off the coast, whereas as wind turbines, for various reasons, the limit is about eight miles, so there is a mismatch between the sea depths where you put marine current turbines and offshore wind turbines of the scale that we are looking at now.

Q464 Nia Griffith: If we can return to the wind in general. What are the advantages and disadvantages of up to 27% of Wales's energy supply coming from wind and perhaps the Ramblers would like to start?

Mr Dowson: I think in general terms in our discussion about wind versus nuclear, but I think in some ways it is not comparable if a wind is an intermittent source compared to a third generation source. Our position within Ramblers is particularly we have an issue with offshore development in our policy, it says we would prefer the emphasis to be shifted offshore, so that balance of 80/20 within Welsh policy, more onshore than offshore, we think is ill-advised. It has already been mentioned the capacity of offshore is much higher, the impacts of offshore from a visual point of view and other environmental impacts are reduced by taking an offshore position and the scale of impact of onshore, we believe, are unacceptable, not only from a walking community, but from the general public's point of view.

Q465 Nia Griffith: Can I just push you a little bit on that? I do a lot of walking, but Snowdon has a railway on it and I think that is fine, I think it is great that people who maybe do not walk up Snowdon go up in a train and are you saying that there should be a complete blanket, no wind farms anywhere, or would you say let us look at some areas of outstanding natural beauty, let us look at other areas which are perhaps post-industrial landscape or whatever and maybe not have a blanket approach?

Mr Dowson: We are not against renewable energy or wind as a form of generation, it should form part of a spectrum. Our issue is with particularly industrial scale developments because they are fundamentally changing the nature of the landscape. I do not think there has been anything where there has been such a sweeping change of the landscape and to have something which is, the latest quote is 130 metre high onshore, so a 400 foot high turbine in proportion with a landscape of the scale, where your hills and valleys are only 300/400 foot anyway, to our eyes is not in any way acceptable.

Q466 Nia Griffith: Would you accept that there are some areas where you might put wind farms?

Mr Dowson: Yes, I think as we have mentioned before, offshore is an obvious one, but in, sort of, communities, small scale wind farms would be appropriate to have that energy generated close to the point where that energy would be consumed, but on a scale which is appropriate to the landscape and the current trend to larger turbines and to high numbers through the SSA process are really having an inappropriate impact and one which will not go away. The building of tracks, the courage to build those tracks, the foundations, are lasting legacies, despite the claims that they can removed at a later date.

Q467 Nia Griffith: Can I ask the CPR a question? You have talked about permitted development and I am linking this in because obviously if you do not want big scale, you might be more in favour of small scale, but you were worried that committed development could perhaps open the back door to everybody doing everything. What would your view be that if you do not like it over the countryside that people could have something on the back of their house, as long as it is the back of their house, and that any individual farm could have, what you might call, a large traditional sort of windmill looking type wind turbine, a 6 kilowatt type as permitted development and would you see those as potential ways forward?

Mr Ogden: Just to make it clear, we are not against wind energy per se, it is the question of the relationship of the structure in its context and most of you will hopefully know that recently the UK government has signed the European Landscape Convention which makes exactly this point. It is the way in which we fit things into the landscape which is relevant to that landscape and to the communities that it is serving. Permitted development of a small scale turbine on the top of a house is relevant to that set of circumstances, so I do not think we would be too concerned about that. If permitted development was extended to 50 megawatt onshore wind schemes then we would be very concerned because this functional relationship between the structure and its surroundings has been fractured. All of the change that we saw, a lot of the change that we have seen in the past, has been because of the economics of land use and in this instance this is an industry which has got no relationship to the land use and the landscape in which it has been positioned so that is our big concern, so that we would hope that certainly the permitted developments opportunities will inject energy - if that is the right word - into the domestic agendas, but I think ----

Q468 Nia Griffith: And the farm agenda as well.

Mr Ogden: And the farm agenda, yes, and energy crops have already been mentioned as a way in which that can be supplemented.

Q469 Nia Griffith: That is what I was thinking about specifically, isolated farms generating their own energy.

Mr Ogden: It is this relationship, I think, of the size, the scale, to the form of the location it is in, but I think it also has to be said, and I do not think anyone has mentioned it yet, that the agenda for brown field sites has not been considered properly, that we have a major legacy of derelict land, often in industrialised areas, which has the infrastructure, which has the need and it has the short distances of transmission which would enable wind to be a very, very potent solution to some of the issues and the end report, as I think we have said in our submission, indicates that there is a significant capacity for the brown field locations of Wales to offer that opportunity.

Mr Sinclair: We have a recent consent for, admittedly quite a small turbine, in Swansea docks, for example. Maybe the scope for brown field sites is not enormous in Wales, but if the medium sized rather than the ultra large sized turbines, I am thinking of probably in the order of 1 megawatt capacity or less and were deployed on industrial sites, I am quite confident that there are industrial complexes where such turbines could be not only assimilated, but extremely useful as well.

Mr James: What I do notice is that when people object to wind turbines onshore they say they will be all right off shore; you put them offshore and you still get a lot of objection. If you site them on industrial location as the Total oil refinery in Milford and on the other side of the Haven at Pembroke the Texaco refinery, strong opposition again. It is quite absurd that the proposal for wind turbines close to the Texaco refinery was turned down. When I rang the Pembrokeshire Energy Agency between 2000 and 2003 I visited the Total refinery and suggested to them that they put wind turbines on their site, it is a spoilt landscape already and we want to see oil companies becoming energy companies. The planning application was announced and then I spent probably eight or ten weeks responding to angry letters in the local newspaper from five predictable sources actually, but wherever you put them you still get the level of objection. Community schemes have been proposed. There is a very good community scheme in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, they have had an horrendous time with opposition even though it is a community proposal, so I am afraid that no matter what you do you still face an opposition and if it is not wind, you get opposition with other energy systems. Certainly we are concerned about the landscape as well, I have opposed the wind farm in Pembrokeshire because it is a large wind farm too close to the national park. We have had guidance within Friends of Earth, we do not wind farms within the National Park, there is room for small ones, small community ones possibly, so the landscape is in consideration with us as well, but it does surprise me that people seem to accept pylons flooding across the landscape. If you have come on the train from Pembrokeshire to London, as I did this morning, you see an awful lot of pylons from Pembroke right across South Wales, people get used to them and then if it is just a proposal for a small wind farm I am afraid you get a level of opposition ----

Q470 Chairman: Could you pause at that point? I hear what you are saying and you seem to be agreeing to an extent with the evidence we have received from CPRW about the appropriateness, it is not total opposition one way or the other, but would you see a situation arising where hypothetically you would actually argue from Friends of the Earth perspective, you would argue for wind turbines to be located inside national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty and, if not, why not?

Mr Crumpton: Can I answer that? I was on the liaison committee that was discussing the strategic search areas and we have never made the point that we would like large scale wind farms in National Parks or indeed in AONBs, there is no need. There are plenty of areas of Wales in those strategic search areas for a start where you could generate a great deal of electricity and the point about going into large wind turbines means you need less of them and there is a trade off there. Yes, there are brown field sites, but there are so few turbines you could get on them.

Q471 Chairman: If I could follow the logic of your argument, if I could see it. There are areas of the South Wales Valleys where there is going to be a concentration of wind turbines, particularly in my own County Borough of Neath and Port Talbot, 38%. It would be argued, and I would be amongst those who would argue, and I would commend the recent BBC Wales television series on the Valleys and the last one on the Rhondda actually made this very point about the fact that local authorities and various agencies have made great efforts to improve the landscape of the Valleys back to their natural state. Would you not acknowledge that many of those areas are areas of outstanding natural beauty, are areas which actually should be national parks? Are you actually saying that we should actually see a degradation of those environments?

Mr James: It is how you interpret it. I live fairly close to the Llanboidy wind farm and I certainly do not think it degradates the landscape at all, I think it possibly enhances the landscape there. I travel on the train to Cardiff a few times a week and I look across the estuary to the wind turbines on Pendine and I fly through Pendine I see them and I think they are wonderful, I am encouraged to see them and opinion polls consistently show that most people are supportive, even those who live close to wind turbines. I think it is a false assumption to say that they necessarily, I think you said, harm the environment and we are going to have to accept changes, climate change is going to force upon us many changes and I am pleased to say that most of the environmental organisations in Wales, such as WWF and RSPB and Greenpeace and ourselves are much more positive about wind energy than CPRW and the Ramblers. There has to be a balance. I do not think anybody would want to see too many in one place if it is regarded as an area of outstanding natural beauty, but I do not know if you are familiar with the proposal for Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, I have seen photo montages of that and I think it looks fine and that, I believe, is not far from Neath.

Q472 Mark Williams: We have had quite a lot of evidence to this Committee and the point has been made about the over-saturation of our landscape by wind farms. At what point would you accept Wales in particular has been over-saturated with wind farm developments? I do not want to get into the realms of micro generation because I think most people would accept that is a massive roll forward, they are needed. At what point does over-saturation really register strongly with you?

Mr Crumpton: I would have thought when public opinion begins to noticeably significantly shift towards "we do not want any more".

Q473 Mark Williams: Do you detect any change in public opinion?

Mr Crumpton: No, I am amazed that it is held so firm given ten years of misinformation through the letters pages of newspapers on the subject, I cannot believe we are still so high when there is so much vitriolic comments from certain quarters and so many myths that are highly damaging if they were to be believed that the public have not been taken in by it and their continuing high support.

Q474 Mark Williams: I find that interesting, and I beg to differ slightly on the strength of feeling both ways. I have to say I detect, certainly in my area, that public opinion is changing, if anything, there is a more balanced view than there has been in the past, but we will debate that one again no doubt.

Mr Ogden: I think we beg to differ significantly obviously from the Friends of the Earth and we believe that public opinion is changing significantly against blight that wind turbines are creating in what people now value as their local landscapes and I must come back to the point that the Chairman was making about his home area that we should not think that the only areas in Wales that are important are those that are designated. The AONBs and the National Parks are the gems of our landscape, but they are not the only landscapes that are important and communities are valuing those landscapes which are close to them and things that they can use and benefit from, so I think we have to be careful that we do not partition out our landscapes as the important and the unimportant and that is what the designation process unfortunately does, so we would certainly suggest that both the agenda in terms of public opinion is changing towards wind and the local people value the landscapes that they see that they use and they want to use in the way that they can decide rather than have agendas which are driven by other organisations which do not necessarily take those into account.

Q475 Mark Williams: Would you accept that where public opinion is changing certainly over all these issues concerning global warming, this far greater awareness of the general public at large, and would you agree also that there is a growing interest in the full mix and the perception we have been increasingly driven down, I could say two directions at the moment by certain policies, largely on land wind farm developments on the one hand and the nuclear agenda on the other and the challenge is to find the mix?

Mr Ogden: Indeed, the mix is so crucial and I think that the more the public understand the miniscule contribution that onshore wind technology will offer in terms of reduction of CO2 then the more that they will understand the blight that is being forced upon them in their local areas when these turbines are developed.

Mr Dowson: To feed back on that point, why is there a lot of support for onshore wind? There is an increase of environmental awareness, the general public sees green is good, wind energy is green, so it has got to be a good thing. I think there is automatically an assumption that that is a good contribution. I think until people experience a large scale development, the impact of that is not so great. You see a lot of letters to newspapers saying, "I have got a wind turbine next to my house". One turbine is very, very different to a set of hundreds of 400 foot turbines in a landscape. The second point would be on the value of landscapes, it is not just about national designations, as Peter has mentioned, the landscape convention is about the landscapes of the communities. We have seen a huge increase in community regeneration schemes to re-value areas which have been deprived in the past and there is also a conflict in recreational interests. We see in forest parks, for example, lie within SSAs within the Neath SSA. That is a direct conflict between the past policies and future policies and wind turbine development affects fundamentally the quality of that experience and detracts from the quality of those landscapes and I come back to what I mentioned before about providing open access. The open access was to enjoy the open countryside. By definition SSAs are placed on upland plateaus, huge amounts of which are open access areas. Sticking huge wind turbine developments on those is compromising the very principle ----

Mr James: The concern that we prioritised in our submission is climate change, that is the issue. I regard Ramblers and CPRW as landscapists more than environmentalists, landscape is their top priority. For us climate change is our top priority and I am extremely concerned first at the misinformation that has been put out for years about wind energy, inefficient, intermittent, requires standby, requires subsidies. In fact subsidies of fossil fuels in nuclear power are far, far greater than any subsidies to renewable energy internationally and they have been traditionally, even in the UK, and we are constantly in a situation where, if somebody proposes a clean energy system, somebody will pop up and say, "Oh we have got nothing against renewables, we are all for renewables, but not this and not here and not now", and we are not making progress. The impact on a landscape is accepted by most people. Sustainable Development Commission examined 50 opinion polls and found there was, I think, three-to-one support. The Llanboidy wind farm which is about five miles to the north of me where I live, they had a meeting there. One speaker turned up, was allowed to speak, he was very opposed to wind. Fortunately the councillors ignored him and voted in favour of a wind turbine and it is popular. I know the man who lives right next to it, he is very happy with it. I know people who live up past the valley who sit out in the summer having a picnic looking across the valley and they find the wind turbine blades turning can be quite calming. I think it is a myth to say that they are unpopular or they are necessarily a blight on the landscape. But we come back to that as well, something I put in the submission, the opinion survey by Manchester University in Devon, which has been traditionally hostile to wind farms, where they found seven or eight times more opposition to farmers growing energy crops because then they also saw a landscape impact, a monoculture. I was involved with a proposal a number of years ago on how to grow rape in Pembrokeshire to produce rapeseed oil for local farmers from a factory to help unemployment, to help local farmers. The senior officer with National Parks said, "Too many yellow fields, that has a landscape impact", and so on and so forth, and constantly we are simply negative. I think we are pretty balanced in our approach at Friends of the Earth, we say "yes" to most, we say "no" to some and we try to come up with sensible policies about the best places to put them and also on industrial locations and offshore, but we cannot have this negative attitude towards wind energy. It generates more than a miniscule of electricity actually, particularly if we develop what is in the pipeline now as we have shown in our submission again, so it has a valuable contribution to make and although before it is built there is a level of opposition, after it is built that opposition often diminishes.

Q476 Chairman: Thank you. Could I, before turning to the last section of this evidence section, perhaps try to bring some sense. There are three words that occur to me in listening to the evidence and I have been struck by the fact that even though you have submitted written evidence, you seem to come together, the three organisations, you seem to agree that there needs to be a sense of balance, appropriate locations and a sense of scale, I suspect. If you disagree with me about that perhaps you could send in a supplementary memorandum about that and we would welcome that. Could I now move on finally to clean coal technology and begin with Friends of the Earth. There was one section of your evidence which slightly puzzled me. You acknowledge that in your words "limited role for less polluting rather than clean coal power stations is acceptable". Can you explain the difference between the two and why one is preferable to the other?

Mr Crumpton: Sorry, I am not quite sure of that statement.

Q477 Chairman: I could not understand the statement either.

Mr James: Sorry, what is that, sorry?

Q478 Chairman: The quotation is "there is a limited role for less polluting rather than clean coal power stations is acceptable".

Mr James: Yes. The clean coal I would say is zero emission, any fuel that is clean is zero emission and cleaner coal is you reduce carbon dioxide by fitting more efficient technologies and we have to be careful that clean coal could create the image that this is the answer to climate change, but it is not really, because even the cleaner coal power stations, the ones which have been fitted with more modern technologies, will still emit carbon dioxide, but perhaps 20/30% less, so that is why we refer to it as "cleaner" rather than "clean".

Mr Crumpton: It is a question of low emission coal rather than less acid gas and air polluting coal emissions. What we would say in terms of carbon capture and storage which would be low emission coal is that we are, in principle, supportive and, I believe, there is an increasing number of MPs are very supportive of the technology and in terms of what David Davies was saying about the cost, we could easily go down a coal and carbon capture and storage route rather than nuclear route, which would resolve all those issues about proliferation, long-term radioactive waste and support potentially another deep mine in South Wales or possibly drift mines in South Wales, that is the way I think we would go rather than going nuclear, given the fact that with the best speed we could achieve on renewables all sorts, the best speed in terms of reducing electricity demand, we would still need some centralised plant and with the gas price going up and some uncertainty on the global security issues of particularly gas, then coal and within that carbon caption storage and biomass co-firing would be our preference in that sense.

Q479 Chairman: Could I turn finally then to the question of the current coal mining TAN being prepared by the Welsh Assembly Government which will establish planning guidelines for the location of open cast coal mines in particular. What are your views on this if you have examined it?

Mr James: The first disappointment is that the TAN document is not available on the Assembly website, even though it has been produced now over four or five weeks ago, I believe. I have seen a press release relating to it and you do have exclusion zone around the open cast sites which is welcome. It is not as great, I believe, as the distance applied in Scotland, but we are generally opposed to open cast anyway, they have a landscape impact, they have a health impact, we believe, and an unacceptable economic impact and the mining that goes ahead in Wales should be deep mining, we believe, and not open cast.

Mr Ogden: Obviously we have similar concerns about the massive landscape impact that open cast coal mining could cause, but we really, from the point of view of the TAN, I think we feel it is more a question of the way in which it is actually applied at the local level than possibly the robustness of its content. The concept of actually having areas of constraint, be they high or medium, seems a sensible approach within those areas where there are primary and secondary resources, but we come back to the point that we made earlier, that one should not necessarily equate areas of high constraint from a landscape point of view simply with those areas that are designated. There are going to be areas beyond the designation boundaries which exist at the moment which have landscape values for local people and those should somehow be factored into the analysis which takes place as to where any safeguarding zones, which are effectively what the TAN is proposing, materialise at the local level. Clearly again open cast has been an issue which has caused a lot of community concern from the point of view of dust, noise, traffic, and I think we welcome the fact that the TAN indicates that very thorough and rigorous analysis of the health, the social, the transport, the environmental impacts, of any new open cast schemes have to be thoroughly analysed in the process of policy making, in the process of planning application determination and one would hope that the strategic environmental assessment process will be transparent in that respect and give local communities the opportunity of making those decisions as to whether open cast is a legitimate form of technology for their areas.

Mr Dowson: Probably nothing major to add on top of that. We will be responding to TAN, but we have not studied that document in detail to date.

Chairman: Could I thank you all for your evidence, both written and oral. It has been a long session, it has certainly been very worthwhile from our perspective and if, as I said earlier, you wish to add to anything that you have said, we would be very, very grateful to receive it. Thank you very much.