On October 28th 2004, Cefn Croes, in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains, was the focus of international interest.
60 Minutes – a prestigious documentary film company based in Australia, visited the site, accompanied by renowned botanist and environmentalist Professor David Bellamy, local farmer Brynmor Morgan, anti-wind campaigner Dr. Kaye Little, and Gordon James of Friends of the Earth Cymru.
The issues of energy supply, landscape protection and climate change were hotly debated. The crew filmed the 39 turbines currently under construction, and the infrastructure of new roads, foundations, sub-station and overhead cables and pylons.
Commissioning of the power station by the new Italian owners, Gruppo Falck, was originally scheduled for October, but problems with the Welsh weather, and supply of turbine blades (which are imported via the ports of Esbjerg in Denmark, and Immingham on the Humber) has delayed completion.
Professor Bellamy, who in the 1980s helped to set up the Mid Wales Festival of the Countryside, and is a current director, is a fierce opponent of commercial wind turbines, believing that they won’t replace any conventionally generated electricity, are harmful to birds, and will damage tourism. He pointed out that the trenched fibre-optic cables on the site will link the power station to Germany, which will be the control centre, denying economic benefit to the local Ceredigion area.
Brynmor Morgan, whose family has farmed land above Cwmystwyth (opposite Cefn Croes) for generations, believes that Cefn Croes represents rape of the landscape, and that Wales is being used as a dumping ground for turbines unwanted elsewhere. Current plans to weaken planning rules will permit thousands of turbines to the north and south of Cefn Croes – the whole of the Cambrian Mountains will be covered. He also observed that there has been precious little local economic benefit.
Kaye Little has monitored and recorded the continuing damage to the environment caused by the infrastructure development, especially the thousands of tonnes of concrete used for the massive foundations (which will remain forever in the ground) and the permanent damage to peat and hydrology.
Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace support wind turbines, believing that they provide the answer to global warming. However, Stephen Tinsdale, dirctor of Greenpeace, turned down an invitation to visit Cefn Croes on the grounds that the site was [used to be?] “too pretty”.
It is not known how many, if any, of our Assembly Members have visited Cefn Croes. Simon Thomas M.P. – whose Party of Wales supports wind power – has visited, and his only recorded comment was that he expects more mountain-bikers to visit the site!
Report by Dr. Kaye Little