Rather like a wind turbine after several days calm, this blog comes back to life. I suppose Easter Sunday is an appropriate day. And its the mid Wales turbines, pylons etc. that feature in this post - and some of the confusion about responsibility for it all. During the last few weeks, I've spoken at several public meetings, and pinned the blame on the National Assembly Government - and explained why. But not everyone was there,
For many years, there's been a drive to promote renewable energy by governments across the world, including the UK Government. It was, and remains entirely sensible that the Welsh Assembly Government should play it's part, even if the largest projects (nuclear power, Severn Barrage etc) remain a matter for the UK Government. Personally I'd not objected hugely to the odd onshore wind farm in mid Wales, though I'd long thought their inconsistency and huge cost raised questions about viability. (The scales fell from my eyes in 2005). But none of the above justifies the stunning landscape of mid Wales being industrialised. The decision to do this was taken by the Assembly Government in 2005 when it published an updated version of it's planning guidance to Local Planning Authorities, Technical Advice Note 8 (TAN8). The decision was communicated to the public via a 'statement' to the Assembly by then Minister, Andrew Davies AM - and welcomed by all party representatives, except me. I was opposed to the new version of TAN8 for two reasons - firstly because it was all about onshore wind farms rather than renewable energy, and secondly because it meant the destruction of the mid Wales landscape. I knew that TAN8 meant that which has now become much more widely understood. What we are facing (in the next phase of industrialising the mid Wales uplands) is 700/800 new turbines, a 20 acre substation, and about 100 kms of new cables, including a 400kv cable from the Newtown area to mid Shropshire, carried on 150' high steel towers.
Permission for the 400kv cable, and for wind farms over 50mw will ultimately be the responsibility of the Minister for Energy and Climate Change at Westminster. Permission for the substation and wind farms under 50mw will be responsibility of the Local Planning Authority, ultimately the National Assembly for Wales. But all of the decisions will be decided against the planning policy backdrop provided by TAN8. It's only by changing TAN8 that we have any real chance of preventing this madness destroying what many of us hold dear. That's why I think those who object should demonstrate their anger in Cardiff Bay.