A Powys-based countryside campaigner has hit out at the amount of public money being spent on subsiding the construction of windfarms in Wales.
Ann West, vice-chair of Country Guardian, a conservation group which campaigns against the construction of wind turbines in environmentally sensitive areas, spoke out on BBC Radio Wales last week, as it was revealed that the UK is spending half a billion pounds in an effort to reach targets on renewable energy – the equivalent of £90 per head of the population.
Ms West, who lives near Llandrindod Wells, told the Richard Evans daytime phone-in show: “If you put up a two megawatt turbine, which is standard at the moment, the annual subsidy for that makes electricity cost twice as much as it would normally.
“It’s £235,000 per turbine per year and that comes certainly out of public money but through our electricity bills.”
One windfarm company said they would not be involved at all if it wasn’t for the gigantic subsidy, which means the Welsh countryside is suffering for something which produces very little electricity at an enormous cost, according to Ms West.
“People who live here are desperate to try and stop the spread of these giant machines.
“Come to any village meeting in Wales where there is a proposal and you will have most of the hall violently opposing them.”
Ms West believes the public is being told “fairy stories” about the amount of electricity generated.
The peak demand in the UK is for 62,000MW.
In Wales there are 445 turbines which are generating on average less than 100MW – “a trickle of unpredictable, unreliable wind”.
“It is only for the money,” suggests Ms West.
However, Huw Evans of Gamesa Energy UK, a company developing and building windfarms and turbines in Wales, told the Radio Wales phone-in: “The British Wind Energy Association’s research across the UK demonstrates that 78 per cent of people are supportive of wind as a form of renewable energy.
“Unfortunately if you do go to most village halls where there is a proposal we do get a quite vociferous minority who turn up and take over those meetings.
“In reality, if you look at the general population, most people aren’t actually opposed to them.
“Wind at the moment is the only viable alternative we have, particularly looking at CO2 energy production, and it’s something that we have to embrace.
“Yes, there are other alternatives, and it’s only part of the solution not the answer.”
By Matthew Jones
6 September 2007
Country Guardian: countryguardian.net
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