Wales - National Assembly has been challenged to put its plans for wind energy in Wales to a public inquiry

Ministers should be prepared to test their claim that onshore wind power is the main way to generate future clean electricity

The National Assembly has been challenged to put its plans for wind energy in Wales to a public inquiry. The Council for the Preservation of Rural Wales says it is the only fair way to examine the proposals to build wind turbines in seven areas across the uplands of Wales. The CPRW says Wales Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn James and Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies should be prepared to test their claim that onshore wind power is the main way to generate clean electricity in the future. The National Assembly received more than 1,700 representations to its Technical Advice Note 8 - TAN 8 - policy that the CPRW says will turn parts of the Welsh countryside into industrial wind power stations. It was the largest response to a consultation on a planning issue in living memory, with 87% opposed to the expansion of commercial on-shore wind developments and the seven TAN 8 strategic areas. Only 8% were broadly in support, with the rest backing some parts of the document and opposing others. The report on the consultation should be ready April-May 2005.

The CPRW says an increasing number of AMs and MPs now recognise the folly of the proposals and its director Peter Ogden says the Ministers should put their proposals to the test. "The strength of public reaction about the loss of the Wales' landscape heritage is mounting and is undoubtedly a measure of the folly of these proposals," said Mr Ogden. "If they are brave enough, they should allow public opinion about Wales' future renewable energy agenda to be tested openly and fairly by means of a public inquiry." Mr Ogden said any other controversial and far-reaching planning policies or proposals promoted by an individual or a local authority would automatically be the subject of close scrutiny at a public inquiry.

The Welsh Assembly Government proposes seven TAN 8 areas and wind energy companies are already putting forward plans in some of the areas. The seven TAN 8 areas are: Clocaenog Forest, Clwyd; between Machynlleth and Plinlimon; between Llanbrynmair and Llancadfan; south of Newtown, around Llanbadarn Fynydd; a huge area above the Valleys between Neath and Merthyr; around Pontardawe; and the Brechfa Forest area of Carmarthenshire south of Llanybydder. The popular tourist areas of Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire and the Brecon Beacons have been avoided. The CPRW has unequivocally rejected the seven areas and is challenging the legitimacy of the policy approach. The Assembly Government says its proposals are designed to meet UK targets to produce 10% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010. That means generating 800MW of renewable energy from onshore wind power sources and 200MW from the offshore wind resources.
Online editorial www.windfair.net
Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
Wales, wind energy, wind farm, wind power, wind turbine, onshore, offshore

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