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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Putting the wind up the Tories

Today is quite important for those with strong views on wind farms. The Welsh Assembly Government will be publishing it Technical Advice Note 8 identifying large tracts of land for development. It is understood that they are opting for large scale sites. The aim is to increase the amount of energy from renewable sources by 10% over the next five years.

This creates a dilemma for all of us of course. Do we support sound environmental arguments that say that we need to turn to alternative energy sources if we want to mitigate the impact of climate change? Do we argue, as many have, that on-shore wind is not the sole answer but that other sources of energy such as biomass, hydro-power and solar should be used instead? Or do we argue that the Welsh landscape is sacrosanct and that it should be protected from the devastation that wind turbines will bring?

One person who seemed fairly sure of his ground on Radio Wales this morning was Tory Environmental Spokesperson, Glyn Davies. He told listeners that the landscape should be protected and that other alternatives must be explored instead. What he did not say however, though Plaid AM, Helen Mary Jones, alluded to it, is that he has a family interest in wind farm development.

As this news item explains Glyn is facing a "huge personal problem" after a company approached him about placing a wind farm on his land in mid Wales. Glyn, who says he will not be getting any payment if the scheme goes ahead, compared his dilemma to that being faced by people across Wales:

"On the one hand it's a beautiful landscape - it's always been a spot I love," he said.

"But there are a lot of other people involved - as well as three neighbouring farmers who have a huge number of family living in the area - and they're very keen it should go ahead.

"I've opted out and said that it's an issue for the planning authority."

Well that is OK then!
We want to know Peter where you stand. I suspect that it is simply put them where it will not lose Peter Black votes. Mind you Plaid are wimping out as well!
You already know where I stand Martyn. I support appropriately placed windfarms as well as other alternative energy technologies.
But what is 'appropriately placed'? One calculation suggests that we will need nearly 37,000 wind turbines to produce 10% of our energy. Where is the map showing where they are all going to be? How many acres of green sites are going to be needed?
In an ideal world off shore wind and wave farms are the way to go, some thing that Britain has is a great deal off is wind and a lot of sea. The problem is that the vast majority of government money has gone into R and D on onshore wind farms so they are the only current solution that are mature enough. Given the other non carbon alternatives are not ready yet or can not produce enough energy they are the only solution for the next five years. If there is any way you as a AM can encourage more R and D into off shore renewable that would be great for the longer term, because then you don't end up with the not in my backyard problem.
We are pressing for more R&D. It is impossible to say what is appropriately placed until an application is lodged. As these wind farms are determined at planning stage then it is appropriate that each one is treated on its own merits.
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That is a matter for her. You have to judge these things on the merits of each case.
I suggest the new Assembly Building would be a suitable place for a wind farm - and the additional cost could easily be accommodated in the extraordinarily elastic budget
Funny you should say that. There have been plans to put wind turbines on the Cardiff Bay barrage but I am not sure what happened to them.

You would not need the Assembly budget to pay for them either. The level of capital return on a windfarm is quite high especially with the subsidy they receive. It is worth noting though that this subsidy is less than that given to nuclear power generators.
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