Another day, another loss

And another development which defies all logic, rubber-stamped for approval. Which in itself is something of a joke, since the groundwork has been progressing for some time; consent has never been in doubt. I can’t add much that isn’t already better covered by the writer of this this piece

Having a favourite Welsh hill (or range of hills) is no easy choice to make. Mine happen to be The Berwyns – lonely, quiet, at times mysterious; and twelve, maybe fifteen, miles away from where these turbines will be installed.

Still, at least there are some reassurances being sought; and given…

(From the BBC website): “Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane has presented a petition in Parliament asking for reassurances that cables connecting the wind farm to the National Grid at St Asaph would be buried underground.” Okay, well, good luck with that, Chris.

And (also from the BBC website): “The company (RWE) has said it has worked closely with ornithologists and ecologists to produce a habitat management plan, to include restoration of habitats and woodland management.” And would this be an enforceable plan, with no wriggle room and stringent penalties for non-compliance? Just asking…

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The Berwyns – Lonely, quiet, mysterious hills

Anyway, picture standing on the summit of Cadair Berwyn – at 2,720 feet, the highest summit in Wales outwith the national parks and a commanding viewpoint – and looking slightly west of north, towards the coast. You would be looking roughly in the direction of Abergele and, with decent visibility, Clocaenog forest would be in the middle distance. From that vantage point there will be a very clear view of this cluster of turbines.

There are other hills in the area which I know less well (although I’ve walked most of them at least once) and I’m trying to visualise how their views will be impacted. Arenig Fawr and Moel Llyfnant lie to the south west and roughly the same distance away as the Berwyn ridge; these two are just inside the Snowdonia NP boundary and Arenig Fawr tops out at 2,800 feet. My recollection is that it has pretty much unobstructed views of Clocaenog, but it’s been a few years now since I was on that particular top.

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Looking northwest from Cadair Berwyn, towards Snowdon, The Glyders, Tryfan, and Carneddau.

 

Talladh-a-Bheithe power station (01/08/2014)

This proposal is, even by the insensitive standards of proposals past, astonishingly brazen. The detail has been much better dealt with than I could ever manage elsewhere, but could I just urge anyone who passes this way to take the time to look at any (preferably all) of the following:

This is the text of my own letter of objection (already sent):
Dear Sir/Madam
 
This is to lodge my personal objection to the application, by Eventus Duurzaam BV, for consent to construct a windfarm on a site at Talladh-a-Bheithe,  near Rannoch.
Coming immediately after the recent (June 2014) Scottish National Heritage publication of the wild land map of Scotland, this proposal is for a wind farm to be sited in Area 14 of the map; in other words, a place designated by the Scottish Government as worthy of “strong protection”. It also lies immediately adjacent to Glen Lyon National Scenic Area and the scale of the area of impact is probably unprecedented, even in the context of other insensitive turbine installations.
Continuing to approve developments of this kind in areas of wild land will ultimately have a devastating effect on visitor numbers to Scotland in general and The Highlands in particular. A devastating effect which will be felt by the local businesses and communities who depend on tourism for their livelihoods. 
To someone who has been a regular visitor to Scotland for more than 25 years, the current direction of policy with regard to wild land and precious landscapes make no sense. The Scottish government seems to be actively pursuing a policy which will deter tourism; an independent Scotland (should that be the outcome) with its income from tourism decimated – has this been thought through?
If the opinions of visitors are to be disregarded, at least take note of the local opposition to this development. Shops, guesthouses, B&Bs, visitor attractions may not be able to finance aggressive lobbying and slick PR, but they are entitled to at least the same consideration as the multinationals who are driving this incessant flood of applications
Some of it is original, some unashamedly cribbed from other, better letters – all with permission having been given. In the same spirit, please feel free to use anything from mine which might be helpful in compiling your own.
But time is short – the closing date for objections to be notified is August 5th.

From the vaults: Someday there will be outrage (19/12/2012)

Outrage comes in many forms: it can be short-fused and incandescent; it can equally be slow to ignite, particularly if the conditions for combustion are carefully managed and controlled.

Lately we’ve seen a number of examples of suppressed outrage finally reacting to the oxygen of exposure: Saville, Hillsborough, and now probably Orgreave looks likely to join the list of late-in-the-day revelations about events which are – and here’s a paradox – unsurprising, predictable, but still scandalous.

The interests and reputations of those with power, influence (and the money which can buy both) have been protected and the opportunity for natural and legal justice has been denied until, in many cases, the culprits are beyond the reach of either. The role of our national broadcaster in the Saville affair has been exposed as a disgrace, and there’s more to say about it/them later.

My view on current energy policy is that it – a decade or two from now – will be seen as scandalous, bordering on fraudulent, and that the same devices of collusion, subversion and lack of transparency will be exposed to a future generation, who will wonder what the hell we were doing while all of this was going on.

Now I’m not, obviously, equating the issue of wind turbines with systematic sexual abuse, conspiring to lie about events which left 96 football supporters dead, or mining communities being wantonly and systematically destroyed. The point I’m trying to make is that we are already in the process of saving up a national outrage for some future date and, when the time comes, the BBC will be one of many organisations and individuals with awkward questions to confront.

There will come a time – I’m convinced of it – when the scale of this misguided and misrepresented lunacy will surface and be exposed to the unforgiving daylight. When that day arrives, it will be impossible to find space in the shadows; they will be crammed with those trying to make themselves inconspicuous. Former energy secretaries, wrong-headed journalists, green campaigners who never really understood the true meaning of the term – you won’t be able to find one with his or her head above the parapet.

The only question then will be… actually, there will be two questions: do we clear up the mess? If so, who pays? Not those who have made money and are long gone, we can be pretty sure of that; it will be the taxpayer or nobody. Like Railtrack, like the East Coast franchise, like the banks with their incomprehensible, thinly-sliced and bundled derivatives, we will pay. It will be us or nobody.

Those who received the subsidies will be beyond reach; merged, acquired, obscured by a web of offshore shells and arcane tax shelters. The ones who argued for wind – erratic, unreliable, quixotic wind – to be seen as a plausible cornerstone of our electricity supply will be ‘unavailable for comment’. At least the BBC will still, probably, be around to answer for its role in the conspiracy.

I’m not a climate change denier. I’m prepared to accept the evidence that the planet is warming; and that human activities are making a contribution to that warming. The question for me is: what do we do about it? Wantonly damaging the environment in the name of protecting the environment seems to me to be beyond perverse.

There’s a couple of lines from a Dougie Maclean song…


We are the seeds they grew
It’s we that you must answer to

It’s about a future generation asking questions and not taking ‘No’ for an answer. Heaven only knows what our response will be when they enquire about our motivation for turning pristine wilderness into post-industrial desolation.

I’ve gone on a bit; more than a bit. I needed to get that lot off my chest.

From the vaults: Turbine proposal turned down (27/01/2011)

Of course it was; it was never in doubt. Couldn’t possibly have the English middle classes or the celebrity residents of the Cotswold fringes having their senses affronted by these monstrosities when they park up the Range Rover to take the dalmatians for their 200 yard stroll along the riverbank.

Much better to disfigure The Elenydd or vandalise The Monadhliath to keep the 40″ plasmas on stand-by.

Pushed for time, but I needed to get that off my chest.

From the vaults: Turbines (18/12/2009)

Turbines

This was the first – but would by no means be the last – post on the vexed subject of onshore wind and its misguided, indiscriminate and destructive proliferation. I am not a fan…

The pictures to the left and below were taken a few miles from the centre of the second largest city in the UK. Fewer still from that dismal confluence of the M5 and M6 motorways – the one where we inch, at glacial pace, past Ikea, the RAC control centre, and the great expanse of Network Rail marshalling yards at Bescot. It was taken across the road – literally – from the edge of the West Midlands conurbation.

 So how much would I like to see a couple of strands of wind turbines marching up the line of that ridge and across the neighbouring Walton Hill? Not much at all actually, although it would make sense; more sense than many of the sitings presently being considered for these largely ineffective eyesores. The hills are adjacent to a huge area of consumption and demand; much closer than the Elenydd or any number of proposed locations in the Scottish Highlands.

So why not plaster the Clent Hills, and Waseley and The Lickeys beyond? Maybe the Malverns as well? There’s a lot of ridge to work with between British Camp and North Hill.

 It won’t happen of course, and nor should it. There would be outrage; these hills are visible from the homes of suburbanites who wish to continue leaving their 42″ plasma screens on stand-by. So my hills of home are probably safe; others aren’t and we need to be vigilant.