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Montgomeryshire questions impact of wind farms

Green energy campaigners say wind farms are vital for our future, but some communities in Montgomeryshire are questioning the impact of installing more of them in mid Wales.

A new generation of taller, more powerful, turbines is planned.
But trucks carrying the structures, some measuring 400ft (122m) tall, will face problems on narrow rural roads.
Residents and officials in the towns of Welshpool and Montgomery have already raised concerns about this.
And perhaps they have a point? Navigating country roads to the uplands of Montgomeryshire in large vehicles is likely to be a daunting task.

A report for Powys council in 2009, by consultants Capita Symonds, said lorries measuring 180ft (55m) long, 16ft (5m) wide and weighing nearly 130 tonnes, would travel through Powys five days a week for five years, making more than 3,000 journeys.

The report said the delivery of turbines and other components had the “potential to cause significant disruption to residents along the routes and other road users”.

Powys council and the Welsh Assembly Government are looking at how to tackle the problem, but what would the election candidates in Montgomeryshire do?

Plaid Cymru’s, Heledd Fychan said she was “supportive of wind farms, but concerned about the transportation of the turbines”.
She added: “Plaid Cymru recently voted in favour of supporting a motion I’d put forward relating to the transportation of wind farms and rural roads, and we are dedicated to fighting for investment in such roads if they are unable to cope with the traffic.
“However, I’d also campaign for these wind farms to be built in mid Wales thus lessening the impact of transporting them and creating good, well paid local jobs.

“It would also be far better for the environment if they were built closer to the site they are due to be built, as I don’t think it’s logical that they’re currently being transported from abroad.”

Conservative candidate Glyn Davies said the answer was to cut the number of turbines being built.

He said: “The logical way to lessen the impact of wind turbines, and power cables on the environment and infrastructure of Montgomeryshire is not to allow so many of them to be built.
“Every other political party in Wales has had a damaging obsession with covering our hills with wind turbines. I want to see this policy reversed.”

Labour candidate Nick Colbourne said: “Nobody wants huge lorries transporting equipment past their homes and we have had a couple of examples of constructions in Newtown where the contractors have seemed oblivious to the disruption caused to residents and the populace at large.

“Residents need to be consulted at every stage and the council highways department needs to be proactive in intervening when disruption becomes intolerable, rather than just blaming the contractor.

“Checks and stops must be inserted into contracts to deal with the problems experienced by residents.”

Lembit Opik of the Liberal Democrats said roads could not be allowed to “suffer gridlock”.

He added: “The answer is to involve government in taking a responsible decision against the over-development of Montgomeryshire with wind farms.

“Specifically, I’ve set up a number of meetings with government ministers including Under Secretary of State Wayne David. I’ve raised the matter in the Commons many times and I’ve even submitted a petition into the record in the last two weeks of Parliament.

“This kind of issue requires experienced MPs capable of using the whole of the Parliamentary system to raise the matter to prevent it wrecking our local transport situation. ”

David W Rowlands of UKIP said: “You have to have fossil fuelled generation for three quarters of the power for when the wind does not blow, or blows too hard.

“The money would be better spent on energy-saving measures, and developing our nuclear generation capacity which should be our mainstay for electricity generation.

“The renewable we should have been developing is tidal power which is predictable.”

Independent Bruce Lawson questioned the effectiveness of wind farms.

He said: “Nuclear is clearly the way to go. Wylfa is at last to be reborn and Trawsfynydd should also be rebuilt. Modern technology is far safer.

“Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were many years ago – there is a risk, but an acceptable risk, given our proximity to France, which is 80% nuclear, and where a major waste storage facility is no further away from Montgomeryshire than Inverness.”