First minister Rhodri Morgan was urged yesterday to scrap the Assembly Government’s windfarm plans which would devastate some of Wales’ most stunning countryside.
Fifty prominent Welsh figures in public life signed an open letter appealing to Mr Morgan to re-think proposals for a big expansion of wind-power. They include the uplands of the Denbigh Moors and Cambrian Mountains, and an area off the North Wales coast.
Signatories included broadcasters Iolo Williams and Sian Lloyd, the Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan, Ffion Hague, Lord Carlile, Lord Howe and Marquis of Anglesey. They were backing the call by the Gwlad Alliance, an umbrella group for environmental and protest groups across Wales who are opposed to wind farms.
The letter warned the Assembly Government policy would devastate some of Wales’ finest landscapes.
The group questioned whether wind energy could make a significant contribution to reducing C02 emissions in the long term and the cost in terms of money and collateral damage to the countryside.
Seven areas across Wales were earmarked for windfarm development under the policy, including the Denbigh moors, Cambrian Mountains and the hills of Montgomery, Radnorshire and South Wales.
Wind turbines are heavily subsidised with £1bn hidden subsidy across the UK expected to rise to a cumulative £32bn by 2020. The Assembly Government’s Energy Route Map to reduce CO2 emissions proposes a threefold increase in on-land wind turbine capacity by 2025.
Gwlad Alliance called for urgent talks over the strategy, a re-evaluation of policy and a moratorium on wind turbine applications.
The group secretary Michael Williams from Pentrellyncymer, near Corwen, said: “It isn’t just a local problem it is an all-Wales problem. We believe the Assembly Government has been significantly influenced by the interests of the renewable energy industry.”
John Lawson-Reay, chairman of Save our Scenery in Llandudno, calling for a public inquiry into the 250-turbine Gwynt y Mor offshore proposals, said: “Llandudno depends on tourism. People don’t realise just what an impact these plans will have.”
An Assembly Government spokesman said wind farm proposals were subject to a strict planning process. National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were excluded and less than 1% of the land mass of Wales was allocated for windfarm development.
He said: “The threat of climate change is urgent and the Assembly Government is determined that Wales will play its full part in combating this threat.
“Wind energy is the most commercially viable renewable technology available at present. It produces no carbon emissions and saves the CO2 produced in the construction of wind turbines within a three month period.
by Tom Bodden
24 June 2008