Saturday, 9 July 2011

Nant y Moch wind farm

Many people have heard of the controversy that the proposed Nant y Moch wind farm presents. On the one hand it would produce renewable electricity and is far better than nuclear; but on the other hand it will lead to c.285 ha of tree felling, access roads through forests, road widening, impact on rights of way and bike trails, damage to land and habitats, creation of on-site electricity sub-station, and will affect a historic landscape (though to be honest that seems to be the least important issue, since the original landscape would have been fully forested, not the bare hills of today).
The wind farm would have 64 turbines, most of which would be 146 metres high, covering a site of 4780 ha. The case for the development can be found on the developers' (SSE Renewables) website here; the opposition is mostly led by the Cambrian Mountains Society. SSE Renewables are currently running a consultation on the proposed wind turbine near Nant y Moch/Plynlumon/Talybont, and the closing date for responses is Friday 15th July. Respond to: or Eluned Lewis, SSE Renewables, Room 101, Y Plas, Machynlleth, SY20 8ER. Though bear in mind that SSE Renewables stands to make a huge profit if the scheme goes ahead, so they are not going to retract the plans however much opposition there is.

The Cambrian Mountains Society say:
"It is important to appreciate that this is not an opportunity for formal objection to the proposal. The developers are obliged to consult, and in theory they may change what they do in response to the feedback they get. ... Later SSE will produce a full and formal application to the IPC backed by a detailed Environmental Statement. Only then will it be possible to consider the proposal in full, and only then will it be possible to make formal Objections to the IPC, who will either issue a development consent order, or refuse to do so."
Either way, if you have feelings one way or the other, best to state your views, even if it's a brief email to SSE - but keep a copy and use it for the formal consultation later as well.

Some issues to consider
  • The proposed site has otters and water voles, bats, and lots of other special wildlife and habitats e.g. peatbogs, lichens. Construction could last 2.5 years and public rights of way could be closed in the area (4780 ha) during that time. The proposed access route through Nant Y Arian forest includes widening areas that include some of the mountain bike trails.
  • Many people are against the proposal because of: the huge scale and size of the wind farm proposed; destruction to local habitats and trees; road widening necessary to transport all the parts and the resultant destruction of previously unspoilt green areas; destruction of the environment around access sites e.g. at Bwlch Nant y Arian; negative impact on cycling routes through the site area, including temporary and permanent closure and moving of cycle trails; negative impact on environment in general for walkers including temporary closure of public rights of way; negative impact on whole landscape.
What are the alternatives?
  • The future is in microgeneration. Construction of small local generation renewable energy for local communities. This would include solar water heating, solar electricity and wind turbines.
  • More single turbines at localised sites. There are many schools and other institutions that could host these in every village and town.
  • Solar panels could be installed on all large institutions e.g. university buildings, local hospital, schools, council buildings, etc, as well as home generation.
  • Siting such infrastructure in ‘urban’ areas is far more acceptable than placing it in areas that are considered of national environmental and historic significance.
  • Planning to curb population growth (and the consequent increased demand for energy) is the issue politicians are too cowardly to face.

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