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Bid to blow away wind power ‘myths’

Environment Minister Jane Davidson has joined green campaigners to launch an offensive on what they call “myths” about wind power.

Friends of the Earth Cymru today publish a document attempting to rebut 20 of the most common arguments against the controversial energy source, including claims that it is inefficient, noisy and damaging to property prices.

Backing the campaign, Ms Davidson described wind power as “the most advanced and cost-effective of the renewable technologies”.

There are plans in the pipeline for a number of windfarms across Wales. Earlier this month a Dutch firm announced plans for up to 100 turbines above the Neath Valley, while another firm is appealing to the Assembly Government after plans for 12 wind turbines on the Hirwaun mountainside were refused by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

A public consultation has also begun into plans to erect three turbines in Porthcawl, near Bridgend.

All have proved massively unpopular with large numbers of the local population.

But Friends of the Earth Cymru claim such people are a “vocal minority” and say a number of myths about wind power need busting.

Ms Davidson said: “I believe that this briefing paper has an important role to play, as it aims to correct some of the misinformation that has so often been a feature of the debate around wind energy.”

One of the arguments used by opponents against windfarms is that they are inefficient. But Friends of the Earth Cymru says that there are currently 1,988 wind turbines in the UK generating the electricity needed for 1,379,127 homes.

They also describe it as a myth that wind turbines are taking over the countryside, saying that Assembly Government policy mostly restricts future wind farms in Wales to just 0.68% of the land area of Wales.

Plans to site 12 wind turbines on the Hirwaun mountainside were refused by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council amid fears it could kill members of the large local peregrine population.

But the document refutes the claims that wind turbines kill birds, pointing to the fact that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds supports the target to source 15% of energy from renewable energy sources by 2015 and states “the available evidence suggests that appropriately positioned wind farms do not pose a significant risk to birds”.

by Matt Withers, Western Mail


12 May 2008