Most of the lambs are sold deadweight to Dunbia or Woodhead Brothers. A few find their way to Lamia Butchers, Bodedern, and it was owner Ifan Jones who slaughtered, cut and packaged the two Ysgellog lambs that made their fruitless journey to Devon. Linking food production with wind turbines is part of a charm offensive by the renewable sector in the face of troublesome opposition. In places like Anglesey, resistance to on-shore wind power has proliferated along with the number of turbines: some 8,000 people have signed an anti-turbine petition organised by protest group Anglesey Against Wind Turbines.
What have Ysgellog Farm lamb, Greenvale potatoes and Vine House Farm butternut squash, got in common?
Two weeks ago they each were due to appear on a menu with one unifying feature: all the main ingredients had been produced on farms with commercial wind turbines.
The job of putting them on a menu fell to celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall, a renewable energy enthusiast whose River Cottage Canteen hosted “The Great British Wind Meal” in Plymouth.
Organised by Renewable UK and Energyshare, the community initiative of which Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall is a member, Ysgellog Farm lamb was to have taken centre stage at a post-event lunch that was washed down by Wold Top Beer, another turbine-powered product.
As it was trucked down to River Cottage, however, disaster struck when a chiller cabinet developed problems and the lamb couldn’t be used.
For lamb producer Aled Williams, of Ysgellog Farm, near Amlwch, it was a disappointing end to an exciting opportunity.
“The lunch was a good chance to promote the quality of our stock and the meat they produce,” he said.
Aled, 37, runs Ysgellog with brother Huw, 38, in partnership with parents David and Heulwen Williams.
Having bought the 146-acre farm 13 years ago, the family have built on their council farm origins to command a 700-acre part-rented, beef and sheep enterprise.
They have 100 pedigree Suffolk ewes but, for the Great British Wind Meal, Ysgellog lamb was sourced from the farm’s 1,000-head commercial flock of Suffolk x Mules ewes.
Most of the lambs are sold deadweight to Dunbia or Woodhead Brothers. A few find their way to Lamia Butchers, Bodedern, and it was owner Ifan Jones who slaughtered, cut and packaged the two Ysgellog lambs that made their fruitless journey to Devon.
Linking food production with wind turbines is part of a charm offensive by the renewable sector in the face of troublesome opposition.
In places like Anglesey, resistance to on-shore wind power has proliferated along with the number of turbines: some 8,000 people have signed an anti-turbine petition organised by protest group Anglesey Against Wind Turbines.
But Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said wind should be seen as a useful, supplementary “crop” for farmers.
“Wind power has amazing potential and we need to be open-minded when looking at the best ways to produce and use it,” he said.
Ysgellog’s two 92.5m-high turbines went up over the winter, and began generating electricity in March.
Aled said: “In some ways we were lucky as the opposition to turbines on Anglesey has grown since we applied for our scheme.
“There’s a bit of scaremongering going over issues such as noise. The pylon in the next field makes more noise that our turbines do.
“Luckily I’ve not had much criticism – I’ve always been quite happy to sit down and discuss the issues with anyone who wants to.”
He was approached four years ago by a land agent for Savills UK, which was exploring suitable turbine sites on behalf of Airvolution Energy, a subsidiary of Ireland’s ESB Novusmodus fund.
“Before that I hadn’t really thought much about wind energy,” said Aled.
Airvolution agreed a 27-year lease and, for the Williams family, the whole process was relatively pain free: the main challenge was ensuring the turbines did not conflict with operations at nearby RAF Valley.
The farm’s two Enercon E70 turbines, with a combined capacity of 4.6mW, are now the largest and most powerful on the island.
Across Anglesey, some 75 wind scheme applications are in the pipeline, including a two-turbine project on farmland neighbouring Ysgellog.
Opponents claim they are costly to run, unsightly and unreliable.
But Airvolution has been quick to trumpet the economic and community benefits its projects bring to Anglesey.
For Ysgellog’s turbines, 71% the work was carried out by Welsh suppliers – half of them on Anglesey itself – which yielded a £316,000 spin-off for the island during construction. A further £415,000 was set aside for local community projects.
It was for this reason that Ysgellog was named the Outstanding Green Energy Project at the Wales Green Energy Awards in October.
Aled is a convert: “I don’t see a problem with turbines, providing they are in the right place.
“Our turbines will provide security for myself and my family over the next 27 years. Security is important in an industry like farming where often you don’t know how things will go from one year to the next.”
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