Councillors have voted to disregard the interim planning guidance on windfarm applications from the Welsh Assembly.
At a meeting of Denbighshire County Council on Tuesday, June 24, members were asked by head of planning Graham Boase if they wanted to continue lobbying on TAN 8 – the policy used to determine windfarm applications – and if they thought they should stop using the Interim Planning Guidance (IPG) document drawn up in 2004 after consultation with the Assembly.
Councillors voted 35 to five in favour of deleting the IPG and voted 38 to 0 to back leader of the county council Hugh Evans’s motion to write to the Assembly asking for a broader approach to alternative energy.
The IPG, along with TAN 8, provides the county council with guidance on how it should deal with proposals for windfarms up to 25MW.
Chief executive of the county council Ian Miller wrote to environment minister Jane Davidson in April following the planning committee’s decision to grant permission for one wind farm at Llyn Brenig but refuse one at Gorsedd Bran near Nantglyn (an appeal for the latter is expected shortly).
In his letter Mr Miller criticised the way that TAN 8 was finalised back in 2004. He pointed out the implications it had on local democracy and communities and implored Ms Davidson to withdraw TAN 8 and replaced it with fresh planning guidance based on the principle of local decision making.
In her reply Ms Davidson said: “It is accepted that windfarm decisions can be divisive but it is up to local authorities to provide clear and consistent parameters for the evaluation of all applications.
“Climate change is acknowledged as one of the greatest threats facing humanity and the Welsh Assembly Government is committed to ensuring Wales will make its contribution to addressing this global problem.”
•This comes in the same week that fifty celebrities added their names to a petition urging the First Minister to rethink plans to allow windfarms to dominate the countryside.
Prominent Welsh figures including Iolo Williams, Sian Lloyd, Ffion Hague, Lord Carlile and The Archbishop of Wales signed an open letter to Rhodri Morgan backing the Gwlad Alliance – an all-Wales group for environmental and protest groups – asking him to reconsider his Government’s policy on wind power in Wales.
Gwlad Alliance claims that the policy to expand windfarms will devastate some of Wales’ finest landscapes. It also questions whether windfarms actually make any significant contribution to reducing C02 emissions in the long term and asks what it will cost in terms of money and collateral damage to the countryside.
“We believe this policy is misguided and out of date and does not take into account the wishes of local people,” said Honorary Secretary of Gwlad Alliance Michael Williams.
Read the full letter sent by Gwlad Alliance below.
An Open Letter
Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan AM
First Minister for Wales
Welsh Assembly Government
Cardiff, CF99 1NA
24th June, 2008
Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl I mi
Dear First Minister
We the undersigned wish to alert you to an issue that is threatening some of Wales’ most dramatic and beautiful countryside.
Your government’s climate change policy is centred on wind-generated electricity with seven vast areas across Wales earmarked for windfarm development. The uplands of Wales are rapidly becoming windfarm zones: the Denbigh moors, the Cambrian Mountains and the hills of Montgomery, Radnorshire and South Wales. This will mean that some of the most wild and wonderful parts of Wales will be de-graded to semi-industrial land.
Hundreds of new turbines, up to 180m (600ft) high, will be built in huge clusters on high ground and will be visible for miles around.
We believe that there are issues surrounding windfarms that need urgent re-evaluation. We question the efficacy and efficiency of wind power and believe that this headlong rush into wind power will have dire implications for the upland and coastal areas of Wales: the landscape, its people; its natural habitats, and its tourism industry – whilst having very little effect on reducing CO2 levels.
By 2010, under Wales’ massive wind-energy policy, the amount of CO2 saved per year will be no greater than if just four jumbo jets were to cease operating over the same period. This puts the whole scenario into perspective.
Ministers argue that wind energy is “the most commercially viable renewable technology”. In fact, wind turbines are heavily subsidised through a complicated system of Renewable Obligation Certificates. Even Ofgem is now calling for an end to this subsidy system, stating it is “the most costly and inefficient form of lowering CO2 emissions yet devised”. A near £1billion hidden subsidy today across the UK is eventually expected to rise to a cumulative £32billion by 2020.
This staggering figure of subsidy, along with a twenty year government guarantee, has attracted large-scale investment but it is going almost exclusively into financially risk-free wind turbine developments. This is preventing investment in better, but currently less developed, forms of renewable energy technology – technologies that would be more effective at reducing CO2 levels with less collateral damage to the environment.
Every time there is a new turbine development proposed, local people attend public meetings to oppose the despoliation of their part of the country. Councillors are inhibited by advice from Welsh Assembly Government implying that because it is government policy, they are to ignore the wishes of the electorate and to approve applications with which they disagree. The correspondence columns in local newspapers are filled with letters crying out for this rapid industrialisation to stop.
The Energy Route Map is laudable in its intentions to both reduce CO2 emissions and increase energy savings. However there are issues of great concern such as the continued reliance on wind power and insufficient funding to encourage substantial energy savings. We are concerned that the Route Map proposes a threefold increase in on-land wind turbine capacity by 2025. We therefore call for the following:
i. consultation with Gwlad Alliance on the effects of implementing the Route Map on the landscape of Wales.
ii. a re-evaluation of the current climate change policy with particular emphasis on other renewables and energy conservation measures.
iii. a moratorium on current wind turbine applications which are being submitted by wind developers at an alarming rate.
As First Minister you hold the future of our beloved country in your hands. We urge you to use your political willpower and create a change in Government thinking. If there is no change in policy, up-land peat areas will be damaged and thousands of acres of forest will be felled to accommodate the turbines. The habitats of many endangered animals and birds will be destroyed. This comes at too high a cost to the environment and the industrialisation will undermine the basis of Wales’ tourism industry.
Attached is a list of co-signatories to this letter led by Iolo Williams who has been joined many other influential people with connections in Wales such as Sian Lloyd, Ffion Hague, Lord Carlile and The Archbishop of Wales. We urge you to meet with representatives from Gwlad Alliance to discuss the three issues above and to see how together we can protect the landscapes of Wales for future generations to enjoy.
Hon. Secretary, Gwlad Alliance
Co-signatories to the above letter:
The Marquess of Anglesey
Jane Ashley, Dir. Laura Ashley Foundation
R D & R Atack
Lawrence Banks, Hergest Estate
Prof. David Bateman
David Bellamy, Artist
Mr & Mrs Douglas Blain
Richard Broyd, Ch. Historic House Hotels & Hafod Trust
The Lord Carlile of Berriew QC
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Burkham OBE, Royal Welch Fusiliers
W H & VN Colbatch Clark
Judy Corbett, Writer
John Etherington PhD, DIC, BSc, ARCS, Former Reader in Ecology, Univ. of Wales
Michael Griffith CBE DL, Former Ch. Countryside Council for Wales
The Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach
Terry Hands, Artistic Dir. Clwyd Theatr Cymru
Victor Hitchings PhD, Research scientist
Major Alan Horrex
The Rt Hon Lord Howe of Aberavon CH, QC
Dr L M Humphreys
J Lingford Hughes, Solicitor, planning issues, (retired)
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Geoffrey Inkin OBE DL and Lady Inkin
Wing Commander D H Insall WO. WKhM, Environmental Consultant
Major Roddy Jones, Royal Welch Fusiliers
The Lord Livsey of Talgarth
Thomas Lloyd OBE, Ch. Historic House Association
Roger Lovegrove, Former Dir RSPB Wales
Christopher & Felicity Martin, Film Director
Mary Meldrum, Hon Pres. Macmillan Cancer Support N Wales
I J Moir FCA
The Lord Moran
Most Rev. Dr. Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales
John Morgan, Former Dir. Forestry for Wales
Lance Mytton PhD
The Rt. Rev. John Oliver, Bishop of Hereford, Retired
Nicolas V S Paravicini
The Lord Raglan
Ivor Russell, Former Secretary Council for Protection of Rural Wales (Carmarthen)
Michael Skuse, Vice-Ch. Heather & Hillforts Landscape Prtshp
Tom Stacey, Author, Publisher & Journalist
James & A R Tanner
The Viscount Tenby
Neville Thomas QC
Prof Arthur Thomasson DSc
Michael Tree, Ch. Welsh Historic Gardens Trust
R F B Watson, Walford Manor
Owen Watkin OBE
Ann West, Ch. Cambrian Mountains Society
By Phoebe Smith
25 June 2008
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