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Local residents are up in arms over threats to develop new windfarms in Powys.
A group of householders from Aberdw, Erwood and surrounding areas joined a demonstration in Cefn Coch, Montgomeryshire at the beginning of the month to express their opposition to the proposed sites, which would potentially affect local sites at Pentre Tump, New Radnor and another site adjacent to Radnorshire’s north border.
Aberdw artist and Powys Ramblers President David Bellamy joined his namesake, famed Envorinmentalist Professor David Bellamy at the 150-strong demonstration, along with fellow residents including Erwood Craft Centre’s Alan Cunningham and Angela Kelly from Llandeilo Graban.
Environmentalist Angela is also Chairman of environmental organisation Country Guardian, which was established in 1991 in response to the first wind power station developments which came after the first round of the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation, when the Government urged electricity Distribution Network Operators in England and Wales to purchase electricity from nuclear power and renewable energy sectors.
But campaigners claim the intermittent output of electricity and CO2 savings associated with wind turbines do not justify the spread of them across the Welsh landscape.
Angela has campaigned together with Country Guardian Vice Chair Ann West, from Cregrina near Hundred House for 15 years, and the two women attended the demo together.
She explained: “The latest statistics from Government regulator OFGEM (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) show there are 450 turbines currently operating on-shore in Wales, but their average, intermittent, irregular output would need to be trebled merely to match the demand of the Anglesey aluminium factory, which needs 250 mw of a secure, controllable supply of electricity.
“They’re just a symbol for politicians who want to be seen to be green.”
The protest has come in the wake of new Environment Minister for Wales Jane Davidson urging the public to stand up for renewable energy and ‘buy into the technology that’s available’.
Tackled in the Senedd last month regarding the controversial windfarm plans in Wales Ms Davidson commented: “As we get better in terms of other renewable technology we will want to look at whether or not we can incorporate other renewable technology into the mix.”
But campaigners say the output of windfarms are unrealistic, Angela says: Windpower is intermittent and unpredictable.
“It must be shadowed or backed at all times with a secure controllable supply of electricity.”
Alan Cunningham has been campaigning for nearly 10 years and attended the demonstration with his wife Erika and son Tom.
He said: “We were looking at three major existing windfarms at Cefn Coch, but within the next four or five years with permissions and plans already in place we expect to see around 12.
“Everyone I talk to doesn’t really know the facts and can’t take on board how little energy windfarms produce.”
Alan has created a notice board at Erwood Craft Centre displaying e-mails, pictures and facts and figures about wind turbines to inform visitors.
He added: “I want to keep the level of awareness in people’s faces, as a tourism operator I can see the threat it could pose to the tourism industry.
“Keeping our ears to the ground, if all the rumours of applications were true we could be facing as many as 22 locally, but that is second guessing really.”
Many of those joining the protest, including Professor Bellamy, wore t-shirts declaring “Windfarms don’t help the environment. They kill it. Stop the windscam.”
Other local supporters at the event included a number of members from the Radnorshire branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) and CPRW Radnorshire Chairman Meriel Oliver with former chairman Christopher Martin.
By Jess Childs
Brecon & Radnor Express
26 July 2007
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