Saturday, March 07, 2009

Uglification of the Montgomeryshire Uplands.

Another issue which featured on Pawb a'i Farn this week was the 'uglification' (or not) of the uplands of Montgomeryshire by an invasion of wind turbines. Must admit I don't enjoy discussing this issue, because its so divisive, and so difficult to hold discussion in its proper context. I'll just bring two aspects of the debate into this post - two aspects which should always form part of the backdrop to any serious discussion.

Firstly, its not logical to even consider whether wind farms are ugly or not, without including connections to the National Grid in the consideration. When I tried to broaden the discussion to include cables and pylons, I could sense immediately that Dewi thought this was drifting off topic. Well its not. Its central to it. Many of the wind farms that are being considered on the uplands of West Montgomeryshire cannot go ahead without the construction of a 400 kv cable hanging on massive metal pylons stretching from somewhere in Shropshire, all the way up either the Severn or Vyrnwy valleys to somewhere in the Carno area - a truly hideous prospect. Many people are under the impression that this cable could be buried. In my opinion, there is an inherent dishonesty in this suggestion, because it is just not going to happen - because of cost. I'll argue for underground cabling wherever its possible, but its going to be limited to short stretches - at best.

And secondly, some people seem to think its 'better wind turbines than nuclear power', as if they are alternatives. I've even heard of unscrupulous politicians seeking to engender support for wind turbines by raising this 'option' as a serious consideration. If it was, I might consider supporting wind turbines myself. Reality is its not. All debate about new nuclear power generation is over. The Government is so committed to nuclear that its fixing the planning system to facilitate the easiest possible passage for planning applications, and bulldozing through public objection.

Anyway, we had a debate about the issue, and I was on the losing side - again. When Dewi asked the audience whether they thought wind farms 'uglified' the Montgomeryshire Uplands, the Ayes lost by at least 3-1.

7 comments:

Draig said...

If Dewi (Llwyd I'm assuming here) believes that Pylons are wandering off topic when it comes to wind farms, all it shows is his lack of understanding of the way wind energy works - especially in mid wales.

The fact that a 400kv pylon will be required into mid-wales tells us that wind is not the "green" resource many trump it to be - at least not on this scale. The reason that Montgomeryshire will have so many (and so big) wind farms is because it serves the imperatives of a centralised and outdated National Grid. They won't invest in building a new Grid connection without enough capacity.

The Welsh Assembly have probably known about this pylon for years. I will guess that it'll generate significant local resistance. My understanding is that the Pylon terminates at the Legacy substation in Wrexham.

Glyn Davies said...

Draig - If it connects to the Grid near Wrexham, its likely that the intention is that line will run along the Vyrnwy Valley. There will be a massive uprising of anger. At present the earliest date by which this line will be 'active' is 2016 - and I wouldn't put too much money on it by then.

JB said...

Glyn,

I've always felt that the answer to 'green' energy is not massive, intrusive structures and their serving pylons but thousands of small installation all over the UK. These would permit the installers to use their own power when needed and divert any excess to the National Grid through existing connections. The principal thing holding this back is the derisory payments by the energy companies for supplies to their ssytem. This makes the whole enterprise uneconomic.

JB

Draig said...

Glyn

Have they not released a Route Corridor yet then? I know they've undertaken a feasibility study of some kind since around 2007 or even before...

Glyn Davies said...

Draig - I do not believe that they have, which is why the earliest date for going active is 2015/16. I had aranged a meeting with National Grid last month, but unfortunately had to cry off at the last minute. At present we do not know where the connection point to the Grid is, or the line of the cable. When the preferred line is announced, the opposition will really take off.

Draig said...

Here's an internal National Grid document which makes clear that the intended connection point is the Legacy substation near wrexham. It's a little technical but it'll tell you a little about what they're thinking...

http://www.nationalgrid.com/NR/rdonlyres/17667FB3-7686-4803-8488-EE0663899FF6/17994/MidWalesUserWorkshop.pdf

If you know where the line is proposed to start (Carno?) and plot a line to Legacy you'll have a rough idea of the route corridor.

For the record I'm pro-wind but think they're going about this in totally the wrong way. Good luck!

Glyn Davies said...

Draig - I spoke with National Grid yesterday, and was told that they have not taken a decision about which direction the transmission line will exit Montgomeryshire - South, East or North. East seems obvious to me, but maybe there's anticipation of the row it would cause. Apparantly a commissioned report was presented last month, and its not yet decided how much of it is going to be made public. National Grid intend to install a link from West Montgomeryshire to the network by 2016.