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Wind farm projects prompt transport concern for Powys firms  

Credit:  By Iolo ap Dafydd, BBC Wales environment correspondent, BBC News, www.bbc.co.uk 18 January 2012 ~~

Fears of transport gridlock in Powys due to wind farm development will be aired at a meeting in Newtown later.

Up to 40 firms are due to attend, many concerned about the impact of building up to 15 wind farms in mid Wales.

Wind energy developers say any increase in lorries or large abnormal loads would be short lived, only happening during the construction phase.

But Trevor Wheatley, of medical products firm CellPath, fears disruption could hit their deliveries.

‘Major disruption’

The Newtown-based company exports around a quarter of its output.

“We ship out many shipments a day and if hospitals don’t get those supplies, it could be serious, especially if there’s a major disruption to traffic,” he said.

“They depend on the company for these specialised supplies, and we supply most hospitals in the UK.”

Wind farms are being planned as part of the UK and Welsh governments’ push to produce more electricity from less polluting sources, and reduce the use of coal, oil and gas.

Llywelyn Rhys, head of renewable energy trade association RenewableUK Cymru, said any disruption would be short term, adding there could be opportunities for local businesses.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for local companies and also local entrepreneurs to think very hard how they can give service to the development of wind farms in their local area,” he said.

“Building new wind farms will obviously involve new construction jobs, but also it will involve a constant supply of materials to that wind farm, and after the wind farm is up and running it will obviously involve maintenance and management of that wind farm.

Power lines

Behind the call for this meeting is the growing unease in some quarters that parts of mid Wales, especially Montgomeryshire, will have to endure more than its fair share of wind farm developments.

If all 15 wind farms are given the green light by Powys County Council and the Welsh government – and the large schemes over 50 megawatts by the UK government – hundreds of new turbines would join those already installed on the hills.

If all, or some, of these wind farms are to be erected, the National Grid would then be legally obliged to extend the electricity infrastructure, so that the power generated by the turbines could be carried to where the power is most needed – cities in England.

The National Grid is already consulting on where to place new power lines and an electricity substation in north Powys and large pylons to carry the bigger 400,000 volt power lines towards the main grid near Shrewsbury.

Underpinning the move towards renewable energy sites in Wales is an advisory document called TAN 8 – Technical Advice Note number 8; planning for renewable energy – introduced in 2005 by the Welsh Assembly Government to set up seven areas where wind turbines could be built. Three areas are in mid Wales and two in Powys.

Fossil fuels

Campaigners against the National Grid’s pylons, and increasingly against wind farms, blame this policy for the current frustration in mid Wales over traffic issues and the possible effect on the landscape.

There is also anger that turbines may be forced upon them, either by the UK government’s department of energy, or by local planning officers.

Mr Rhys argues, as would many politicians of all political parties, that Wales and Britain has to rely less on fossil fuels to keep the lights on, and turn to renewable energy.

The current argument is that wind energy is the most mature technology, ahead of tidal, solar and biomass.

But apart from the aesthetic argument, critics of wind energy point to the arguable efficiency of turbines, and the fact power can only be relied upon intermittently.

Source:  By Iolo ap Dafydd, BBC Wales environment correspondent, BBC News, www.bbc.co.uk 18 January 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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