July 18, 2008

Open letter aims to influence minister

An open letter, co-signed by more than 50 people of influence in Wales has been sent to the First Minister Rhodri Morgan AM, asking him to reconsider his Government’s policy on wind power in Wales. We approached a small number of influential people reflecting a broad sphere of public interest across Wales.

Iolo Williams, the broadcaster and presenter, has agreed to be the first co-signatory and is joined by others such as Sian Lloyd, Ffion Hague, Lord Carlile and The Archbishop of Wales.

The Assembly is pushing ahead with plans for a massive expansion of wind power: a policy that will devastate some of Wales’ finest landscapes, without knowing whether it will make any significant contribution to reducing C0? emissions in the long term and 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We believe this policy is misguided and out of date and does not take into account the wishes of local people.

Dear First Minister

We the undersigned wish to alert you to an issue that is threatening some of Wales’s 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: Denbigh moors, 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 – while having very little effect on reducing CO? levels.

By 2010, under Wales’s massive wind-energy policy, the amount of CO? 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 CO? 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 20-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 CO? 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 the Assembly 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 CO? 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:

1. Consultation with Gwlad Alliance on the effects of implementing the Route Map on the landscape of Wales.

2. A re-evaluation of the current climate change policy with particular emphasis on other renewables and energy conservation measures.

3. 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’s 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.

Michael Williams

honorary secretary, Gwlad Alliance

Iolo Williams

The Marquess of Anglesey

Jane Ashley, director of the Laura Ashley Foundation

R D & R Atack

Lawrence Banks

Hergest Estate

Prof David Bateman

David Bellamy, artist

Mr and Mrs Douglas Blain

Richard Broyd, chairman of Historic House Hotels and Hafod Trust

Lord Carlile of Berriew QC

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Burkham OBE, Royal Welch Fusiliers

Peter Cartledge

W H & V N Colbatch Clark

Judy Corbett, writer

John Etherington, former reader in ecology, University of Wales

Michael Griffith, former chairman of the Countryside Council for Wales

The Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach

Ffion Hague

Terry Hands, artistic director of Clwyd Theatr Cymru

Victor Hitchings, research scientist

Major Alan Horrex

Lord Howe of Aberavon

Dr L M Humphreys

J Lingford Hughes, solicitor, planning issues, (retired)

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Geoffrey Inkin and Lady Inkin

Wing Commander D H Insall, environmental consultant

Major Roddy Jones, Royal Welch Fusiliers

Lord Livsey of Talgarth

Sian Lloyd

Thomas Lloyd, chairman of the Historic House Association

Roger Lovegrove, former director of the RSPB Wales

Roy Luff

David Mansell

Christopher & Felicity Martin, film director

Selby Martin

Mary Meldrum, honorary president of Macmillan Cancer Support N Wales

I J Moir FCA

Lord Moran

Most Reverend Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales

John Morgan, former director of Forestry for Wales

Lance Mytton

The Rt Rev John Oliver, Bishop of Hereford (retired)

Nicolas V S Paravicini

Lord Raglan

Ivor Russell, former secretary of the Council for Protection of Rural Wales (Carmarthen)

Michael Senior

Michael Skuse, vice-chairman of Heather and Hillforts Landscape Partnership.

Tom Stacey, author, publisher and journalist

Caroline Summers

James & A R Tanner

The Viscount Tenby

Neville Thomas QC

Prof Arthur Thomasson

Michael Tree, chairman of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust

R F B Watson, Walford Manor

Owen Watkin

Ann West, chairwoman of the Cambrian Mountains Society

Evening Post

16 July 2008

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/07/18/open-letter-aims-to-influence-minister/