Gwynt y Môr - no thanks!

After my sojourn in foreign climes I hear on my return that the Gwynt y Môr project to place 160 offshore wind turbines in the sea off Llandudno has been approved and that the work will begin next year.

The news has been welcome by Ieuan Wyn Jones and Cheryl Gillan, and by a number of Welsh bloggers. I'm sorry to break the all welcoming consensus. I think that the project is bad news for Wales.

I have nothing against wind farms, I accept the environmental benefits that projects such as Gwynt y Môr can deliver, but I am also aware of the negative effects of such a project. The noise, the visual impact and the affect on the local environment caused by taking energy out of the wind before it reaches land could be detrimental to the people who live on the coast and to the tourist industry that is the mainstay of the local economy. Incidentally I find the Plaid Blogger, Welsh Ramblings, response to such concerns that people who live in the coast are going to have to get over it is as insensitive as telling people in the Varteg that they should get over the fact that an open cast coal mine might blight their community.

Of course the argument is made that all disadvantages that the project will cause will be outweighed by the advantages that it brings. A point that I agree with in general, but as was the case with water extraction and coal extraction, Wales will bear the brunt of the disadvantages whilst the advantages are enjoyed by those outwith Wales. The economic benefit to Wales from this project will be a poxy 1% of its total value, whilst Wales will suffer 100% of the project's down side.

Rather than welcoming the development Plaid, a so called national party, should be shouting from the rooftops about yet another example of Wales' natural resources being ripped off for the benefit of others!


  1. Hi Alwyn,

    Put in your usual clear cut way.

    To argue that an opencast mine 250m from an infant school, one of the few welsh medium infant schools in Torfaen (which is another reason I worry for the development) is comparable does your argument a diservice.

    And of course, as Ramblings points out quite clearly - we all make the point that our natural resources are being taken from us by the UK Government.

    But surely it is better for our energy infrastructure to be put on a green footing for Wales to seize back control of? A new generation of Nuclear and Opencast is not worth seizing back.

  2. Well said Alwyn. As usual, Plaid in all it's naivete and almost complete lack of political nous, plays right into other peoples hands with its fixation on wind energy.

    The reasoning behind this development has absolutely nothing to do with the needs of North Wales. Most of the electricity will be exported to service the North-west of England. It's colonialism dressed up under the "right on" agenda of combating climate change.

    Mid Wales is going to be completely altered by a whole suite of these developments, all pushed through by our own assembly government. All the electricity will be exported via. a massive new power line.

    There are TORIES in mid wales who are doing more to highlight the stupidity of this issue than Plaid, who have become Labours little glove-puppets.

    What's Leanne Wood got to say about all this? Isn't she supposed to be Plaid's environment guru now?

    Join a political party? Leave your brain and critical faculty at the door.

  3. There is no logic whatsoever in opposing offshore wind, guys. None whatsoever.

  4. A good piece, but I disagree with some of the negatives - like the noise for example. What noise? I live right beside two (on shore) wind turbines, and you have to be directly below them to really hear anything. If they're at sea, even the keenest ears won't hear them, I wouldn't have thought?

    I would also love to see some figures on the impact on tourism; I certainly wouldn't change my holiday destinations because of a couple of turbines?

    But I agree entirely, in every decision such as this, each pro and con must be weighed up fairly.

  5. The argument that 'Wales's natural resources will once again be ripped off for the benefit of others' would, logically, result in us producing no energy at all and then having to buy it all from outside when we achieve independence.

    Re the 'effect on the local environment', one study (http://bit.ly/dABgMP) has shown that off-shore wind farms result in the conservation of fish stocks because the area obviously can't be trawled.

  6. Are we charging rent for the use of our seabed? Are we collecting taxes from the electricity company's profits? If not, this is - as Alwyn says - " yet another example of Wales' natural resources being ripped off for the benefit of others! ".


  7. Grogipher, I haven't heard them myself but I am hard of hearing so that is no surprise, however I am told by those living in Llysfaen and Rhos on Sea that when the wind is blowing towards the villages from the Rhyl Flats wind farm that they can hear a low level buzzing sound – similar to a bad dose of tinnitus.

  8. Perhaps it's a question of scale - we've only got two?

  9. Colwyn..."Are we charging rent for the use of our seabed? Are we collecting taxes from the electricity company's profits? If not, this is - as Alwyn says - " yet another example of Wales' natural resources being ripped off for the benefit of others! "."

    We cannot charge rent for the use of our seabed because we are not an independent nation-state.

    There are two options-
    1. Oppose all developments on the basis of them ripping off Wales, and remain a depressed and economically backward nation.
    2. Support such developments that would be of societal benefit, and assume control of them upon achieving independence.

    We'll never get to independence (which I presume you support, if you are using such terms as 'exploiting Wales' resources') without an economic case for it.

  10. Does the new Tory policy of allowing local councils to keep the business rates on wind farms apply to off shore as well as on shore?

  11. What is the economic case for independence in Gwynt y Môr, Ramblings if Plaid Cymru welcomes it with open arms despite the fact that only 1% of the projects economic benefits will come to Wales?

    Plaid should be angry about this project and be demanding a greater share of the money it will generate rather than welcoming yet another example of others gaining economic benefit from our natural resources.

  12. Pond Life said...
    Does the new Tory policy of allowing local councils to keep the business rates on wind farms apply to off shore as well as on shore?

    As the proposed business rate is £20,000 per kilowatt per year, the revenue from Gwynt y Môr would be a substantial boost to Conwy Council's coffers and would make me much more inclined to support the project. Unfortunately the seabed is part of the Crown Estate so all revenues will go to central government rather than to local government.

  13. Good answer Alwyn. In the future though the revenues will go to OUR central government.

    Also Pond Life might like to know the business rates policy of the Tories will harm rural councils. Authorities like Ceredigion and Gwynedd (and presumably Conwy) are effectively subsidised by the rates intake in urban Wales (and rightly so).

    People in rural areas who assume the Tories support their interests need to get a grip. Rural Wales needs a heavy dose of state protection to safeguard its way of life and it's linguistic assets. If the free marketeers got their way there wouldn't be any farming left and we'd probably end up importing everything from halfway around the world. More fool anyone in rural Wales who chooses to vote for the liberals or Tories. Their policies will erode your way of life and turn rural Wales into a museum.

  14. "What is the economic case for independence in Gwynt y Môr, Ramblings if Plaid Cymru welcomes it with open arms despite the fact that only 1% of the projects economic benefits will come to Wales? "

    I'm glad you asked! Scottish law applies to Scottish maritime waters. When an independent Welsh legal jurisdiction is created, as Carwyn Jones supports for example, Welsh law will for the first time since the medieval period, apply to those waters that will be considered Welsh under the Continental Shelf Act.

    An independent Welsh state would have a territorial claim to tax, regulate and develop all assets within those waters.

    The fact that we're going to get about a dozen of these massive wind farms means that there is alot of potential revenue there. We have 2 energy export connectors to England, and 1 to Ireland. Wales is going to be one of the world's biggest energy producers within the next few decades. I believe that independence will become economically viable, under such a scenario.

    We will then create a sovereign wealth fund with the receipts. Once the farms are up and running the energy companies will also be wanting to manufacture the spare parts in Wales, pretty close to where they need to be used. Siemens already has a base near Llanberis as does RWnpower or whatever they're called.

    Presuming i'm going to be in charge, obviously!

  15. "Presuming i'm going to be in charge, obviously! "

    Can I be your deputy please? Spot on.

  16. Sorry Marcus and Ramblings - neither of you will get a look in because I will be in charge!

  17. Alwyn,

    Given that, can I just be a henchman? haha.

  18. I actually live 50 metres from the boundary of the opencast proposal. I support the proposal.

    The school is attended by VOLUNTARY pupils it is a Welsh unit that we in Varteg were not asked if we wanted it.
    The kids are bussed in from all parts of the boro' they travel in buses powered by diesel,as well as 4 x4 s and other cars and vans.

    Through heavy traffic on some of the worst roads in south Wales, and as transported are breathing in diesel and petrol fumes TWICE a day, there and back. WE in Varteg are also thereby suffering this burden, something we did not have before as all of the pupils were locals, few of whom were ferried in by vehicle.
    They attend that school for a maximum of just about 40 weeks of the year, during which they spend most of the day in class, behind double glazed hermetically sealed windows. Access to their 'play area' is to the east of the building which offers a high degree of shelter from both noise and dust.

    Before entering or after leaving the premises they have to walk some hundred or so metres through the exhausts fumes of the buses and cars that transported them to the school. Play time is of very short duration, and the weather pattern in Varteg ensures they are not outside for at least a half of each term.

    The 250 metres mentioned is from the far side of the main road,to the front of the school building, the actual workings, once the barrier bunds are in place, an operation which will take about two weeks to complete, do not commence for another 100 metres.
    So it is not correct to rely on the figure of 250 metres.

    The prevailing wind flows upwards from the SSE to the NNW , and will not carry any dust towards the school, or the nearby settlement of Gladstone Terrace,
    As I said, I live within 50 meters of the workings, and have lived here for 30 years, faced with the scabrous spoil heaps and tips each time I leave my house. I have studied all available data regarding dust and noise and find nothing in those studies that give me cause for concern.

    The main settlement area is Pembroke Terrace, Pembroke Place and Kears row, including the Crown hotel. All have very few young children, and those that do live in the vicinity, will be more affected by the normal vehicular movements of cars, cans, delivery trucks dustbin and recycling wagons etc than they will be by the proposed workings.

    The road Varteg to Blaenavoon carries on a daily basis an innumerable number of cars and trucks, motorcycles etc, add to this is the 12 return journeys PER HOUR for most of the working day of Stagecoach bus's., the schedule is based on one every ten minutes, that means one heading north and the same bus heading south on the return journey. Six times per hour x 2.

    This is but a small portion of my report in reference to my support for the proposal.

    Far too many people from places other than Varteg, making over-emotive commentary, for whatever their reasons.
    The school was deducted from the state system unit, and handed over to the Welsh unit, long before that there was indications a opencast and refurbishment programme was likely, so in effect the school, the parents and governors opted to take a chance, and when the actual planning approval was sought they all began to moan about the poor little kiddies that would be made to suffer.

    No mention of the matters I have mentioned above, nor the glaring fact that Varteg lies directly below the trans-Atlantic flight path between Heathrow and north America, with the residual exhaust particles cascading down from 40thousand feet, plus during the summer months the north-south/south-north flight paths of the northern airport departures and arrivals heading for the Iberian peninsular and north Africa.