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Guest blog: Siân Lloyd — Wind farms in Wales would be ‘vandalism’

Siân Lloyd is a weather presenter and campaigner against the plan to erect wind farms in Mid Wales. She joined more than 1,000 others on the Senedd steps to protest on Tuesday. Now, she writes an exclusive guest blog arguing why wind power isn’t right for a green Wales.

By Siân Lloyd

Sian Lloyd speaks to anti windfarm campaigners outside the Senedd.

I’ve been banging on about the dangers of global warming for a fair few years now. Way before it became fashionable to do so. In fact, when I first started working for the Met Office nearly 20 years ago, I had to be careful about what I said. In those days, global warming was seen as more of a belief system than a hardcore fact. Nowadays we all — give or take a few fringe loonies –realise we have to do something about it.

Until a few years ago, like a lot of other gullible people, I bought into the whole wind farm thing. As a weather forecaster dealing with wind on a daily basis, I have to admit that even then I had nagging doubts about the reliability of wind. After all, it’s erratic by its very nature. But, we had to diversify the sources of our energy and reduce fossil fuel, etc., etc., and wind farms seemed to be the way ahead.

Now this, in my opinion, is part of the problem. Wind farms were probably the first source of alternative energy that most of us came across, and a highly visible one at that. But because these turbines already exist, it doesn’t mean they are THE solution. Simple research shows they are not.

The most superficial of probing reveals that wind power has serious environmental effects, insufficient production and costs obscene amounts of money. At times when customers have the greatest needs, it’s typically not available. Ironically, in strong winds the turbines are often switched off because they get damaged so easily. And when we have a blocking high pressure giving us freezing cold temperatures — exactly what we experienced last winter — there’s no wind at all. So when we need the electricity the most, these turbines are at their least effective. And what takes up the slack? Yes, you’ve guessed it, the filthy dirty coal-powered stations. That’s a very black shade of green.

In the meantime, stunning natural countryside like that in Montgomeryshire is sacrificed. Rural communities become one gigantic power plant and our electricity bills rocket in order to support this colossal sham. No extra jobs are created and research shows that tourists stay away. Mid Wales can wave goodbye to a big chunk of the £400 million a year that tourism brings to the area if these wind monstrosities are forced upon us. It’s economic nonsense.

The wind industry and politicians are being allowed to pull the wool over our eyes. False performance predictions are fabricated — the turbines will never operate anywhere near their claimed levels — and the powers that be have signed away MILLIONS of our money. We, the tax payers, are subsidising these white elephants that currently produce less than 3% of our electricity.

But WAG is infatuated with wind power and seems determined to go down this lemming route, whatever the cost. And then there’s TAN 8, an undemocratic catastrophic policy dumped on the non Labour voting chunk of Wales. This should be stopped and no planning permission granted till information on the cost of this madness to the economy of Wales is published.

But it’s not just the lunacy of wind farms; it’s also the lunacy of the ugly landscape destroying infra-structure — the sub-stations, the many miles of power cables and the support pylons needed for the connection to the National Grid. The scale of these proposals is landscape vandalism on an epic scale. And for what?

In order to support the bubble of illusion surrounding wind power. There are other renewables out there. And the cost of SAVING energy is half the cost of PRODUCING it. For the price of subsidising one turbine you could insulate 500 houses, and in just a couple of years save the amount of energy one turbine produces in its whole lifespan.

I have never seen the people of Montgomeryshire so angry, passionate and worked up, as witnessed in the protest outside the Senedd in Cardiff earlier this week. If Carwyn Jones didn’t get the message on Tuesday, then he’ll get it loud and clear when the normally placid folk of Middle Wales start taking direct action. Make no mistake about it, if this abomination is allowed to go ahead, the National Assembly will never be forgiven.

Follow Siân on Twitter @weathergodess.

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Discussion

8 thoughts on “Guest blog: Siân Lloyd — Wind farms in Wales would be ‘vandalism’

  1. Miss Lloyd, you are right to be concerned about climate change. The very environment you are so keen to protect will be drasticly altered by the effects of climate change. Already we are seeing effects in the oceans around wales. Southern invaiders are threatening our own native species which is having a massive knock on effect to the whole ecology. This can be applied to land too. The wildlife, the fauna, the environment you so love will not be there for generations to come if you sit back and not look into alternatives to damaging fossil fuels.
    Even on the news, unseasonable weather will mean we all pay more for our everyday items in our shopping baskets and the way we live our lives. You can ignore it or do something about it!

    As a weather presenter, you should know the worlds oceans effect weather patterns. The polar ice caps are melting due to carbon emissions harming the earths protection from the sun. We can not continue to rely on harmful fossil fuels which are massivly contributing to this destruction of the planet as we know it.

    The cost of importing fossil fuels from unstable countries is effecting us all. A 15% increase in our household energy bills this year alone, let alone the price we pay for fuel at the petrol station. You can also factor into the cost to the tax payers for going to war in oil rich countries such as Iraq and Libya. Maybe this blood money might be better used to fund alternatives.
    You as a millionaire, might be able to afford these hikes in prices year on year, but we little people can not.

    It should also be pointed out that wind farms will not be used to net 100% of our energy needs and you are foolish enough to blog that this will be the case! The UK never has, nor never will rely on only one type of energy; and they would be mad to do so. The Welsh assembly government and the UK government in London both see wind power as the quickest way to reach renewable energy targets and to assist in carbon reduction. Wind farms are working. For 2010, the target was to produce 10% of our energy needs from renewables. Wales exceeded this target and produced 13% – that alone is a success story.
    The UK currently relies on many fuel sources for our energy needs. 40% from gas and 30% from coal. Nuclear which only produces 19% of our energy needs will see many nuclear power plants decommissioned within the next few years due to them coming to the end of their working life. The time it takes to build new ones, can you imagine what we will be paying for our electricity if we only rely on gas, oil and coal? Energy security has to be factored into your debate.

    TAN8 – a document written by the assembly on instruction of the UK government to combat carbon emissions and reach renewable targets has highlighted areas of wales most suited for wind energy, funnily enough, some of the windiest areas of wales, best suited for harnessing the free power of the wind. You can apply for a wind farm to be built anywhere in wales, it doesn’t have to be placed in a TAN8 area. TAN8 is not policy as so many NIMBYs here point out. It is a document of guidelines only. TAN8 also factors for other renewable energies but focuses on wind power due to the complex planning issues.

    With respect to the new power route, national grid are holding many consultation events all over montgomeryshire to help find the best route to get the electricity produced to the grid. They have not ruled out underground cables either. Burying the cables will cost more and the cost passed on to us all via our utility bills. the government estimate this to be a one off increase of only £1 per household.
    Surely someone in your position could campaign for all power cables to be placed underground all over Wales. They are doing this in other parts of the world, so I can’t see how Wales can’t lead the way for this in the UK. Pylons aren’t the prettiest of things, but they are neither the ugly monsters you make them out to be.

    There are 500,000 acres in Montgomeryshire alone, the NIMBYs are opposed to a 19 acre sub station known as the ‘hub’ to which the wind farms will be connected to? Compare this to the size of a nuclear power station and the urainum mines, the areas needed to bury nuclear waste. Open cast coal mines, the areas of ocean that have been spoiled by oil spills. 19 acres is small in comparison. But then again, these won’t be in your back yard so you don’t care about this. Neither do you care about the billions of subsidy being paid to help dismantle the soon to be decommissioned nuclear power plants, or the people that are opposing these plants being sent to landfill near their homes.

    We are agreed that other renewables are also available and must also be harnessed for the good of the planet. To repeat, we will not and will never rely on only a single form of energy. ALL renewables must be made use of. and we must ensure our homes are better insulated and that we use less energy and to reduce our carbon emissions. Opposing wind farms is not helping the cause to save the planet. Nor is stirring up hatred for these magnificent machines that can harness the energy of the wind.

    Posted by sam | May 28, 2011, 12:36 am
  2. I agree with Sian 100% – the same thing is happening in Scotland. Have all our politicians lost the plot?

    Posted by Lyndsey | May 29, 2011, 10:38 pm
    • Far from it. The UK faces three very real issues: Energy security, energy poverty and energy sustainability. De-pleating fossil fuels will push the cost of electricity through the roof. To become 100% reliant on nuclear would mean we have to increase the number of nuclear stations by five times the amount that we already have – this is very costly for something that only has a limited life span. To put this into perspective, an under-estimate would mean one nuclear power station every 50 miles apart all along the UK coastline and all the associated infrastructure too.
      Alternatives must be used. Every home, every town, city and village will have a part to play and a price to pay if we are continue to enjoy the luxury of cheep electricity at the touch of a button. essential for the way we live our lives and essential for businesses around the country. NIMBYISM will send us on the road to energy poverty. I support ALL renewable projects, large and small.
      I challenge anyone that suffers from veritaphobia to come up with alternative suggestions that will result in everyone being happy.

      Posted by sam | May 31, 2011, 12:52 pm
  3. To add to my (as yet unpublished ) reply. (28/05/11) I will add on this.

    The UK plan to build ten, 3rd generation nuclear power stations across the UK to replace the older ones that are being decommissioned due to them coming to the end of their working life. With a price tag of £5 billion each, that’s a group saving bargain at £50 billion.
    Now we add on the cost of decommissioning the old sites and sending them to landfill. Current estimates are around the figure of £80 billion. (you just know that this is going to rise) This does not factor in for the cost of the safe disposal of harmful nuclear waste.
    The UK will use the same design of the 3rd generation stations that are currently being built in Finland. Already three years over schedule and £2 billion over budget.
    One other small snag. The plants take the best part of a decade to build and have a lifespan between 25 – 40 years.
    We will be paying for all this through our utility bills, and will have to pay for it again in decades to come when the 4th generation on nuclear plants are to be built.

    Bear this in mind also. Nuclear will only make up for 20 – 25% of our UK energy needs. and with gas, oil and coal in short supply, I hate to think what we will be paying for our electricity in years to come.
    Saying this, we will still need nuclear, but do we want to rely on 40+ nuclear sites costing a minimum of £520 billion over such a short period of time providing 100% of our energy needs?
    Alternatives MUST be invested in, including wind power. Montgomeryshire has a part to play in providing for energy security.

    The anti campaigners are leading us into energy poverty. This country would grind to a halt if we start having electricity blackouts. When we all switch on our kettles after watching the ITV news, huge parts of the country would go into blackout and not see the smiley face of Britains best loved weather girl, Sian Lloyd, telling us to get our barbecues out as the UK basks in the hottest Christmas days on record. (due to climate change)

    Small scale and large scale renewable projects must all be embraced including wind farms. Solar, hydro, bio-mass etc, all coming to a town, village or city near you, Times are changing and our attitudes need to change too. Using less energy, better insulation etc will also factor. There is not one correct answer to our energy solution. Many hands make light work.

    Posted by sam | May 30, 2011, 1:00 pm
  4. The whole wind thing is based on a view on climate change. For every scientist the government wheel out to tell us we are all doomed unless we do as we are told at least one more will come forward and tell us the opposite. In some areas ice is increasing , the planet is cooling and the polar bear population is growing. Destroying our limited wild places with wind energy is not the answer. There was recently a report that suggested weather patterns were showing a distinct cooling, towards a mini ice age and less wind over the next 40 years!
    Let’s use the money taken from us all in our energy bills to research and fund an energy that is more reliable, economic and efficient. Nuclear? Well it’s all very well saying we don’t agree with it but we are happy to import it from France when the wind doesn’t blow! Calling the protectors of our environment NIMBYS is misinformed and offensive. Future generations will look at our butchered landscapes littered with rusting turbine hulks standing on tonnes of polluting concrete and think this generation had gone mad. So well done Sian keep campaigning – we cannot afford the very expensive mistake that is wind power – as other countries have discovered to their cost.

    Posted by Lyndsey | June 1, 2011, 6:35 pm
  5. Sam, Sam, pick up thy musket, and blow your own brains out with it, they are of no use to you anyway, were not nimbys as you so insultingly put it, we are realists. as for you, there are non so blind as those that cannot see………………….

    Posted by Phil Beech | June 6, 2011, 11:29 am
  6. Sam, you seem awfully concerned about open case mines & land fills, yet you don’t seem to mind pouring concrete into our hills, destroying our peat or the huge pollution we are causing in China producing one small part tat is needed for the turbines.
    The reason other renewables are not being researched is because the government are too fixated on throwing all their money on Wind.
    I do agree we should also be focusing on insulating our homes & saving energy wherever possible & again not enough is being done to encourage this.

    Posted by Rhiannon Rees | June 6, 2011, 12:29 pm

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