An American backed company, the Renewable Development Company (RDC), wishes to build Britain’s largest wind power station yet in the heart of Mid Wales. RDC proposes to build 39 enormous turbines on Cefn Croes, a wild expanse of upland above the villages of Cymystwyth and Ponterwyd to the south of Pumlumon Fawr. At more than double the height of the existing wind turbines at Ystumtuen, the 328 ft. tall Cefn Croes turbines will tower over the Mid-Wales landscape. The project will also involve bulldozing tracks across the moorland and building miles of power lines across the hills. Part of the area proposed as the Cambrian Mountains National Park in the 1970s, the site is in the heart of a designated Environmentally Sensitive Area and a Special Landscape Area, and is next to one of the largest Sites of Special Scientific Interest in Wales. The 39 turbines will be clearly visible from many parts of Mid-Wales including Pumlumon, The Elan Valley Estate, Bryn Bras, Trisant, Pontrhydygroes and even Blaenplwyf and Waunfawr, and will make a cumulative impact in combination with the existing 69 smaller turbines already erected in the surrounding area.
The development is proposed to take place on land owned by the Forestry Commission and the National Assembly, and it seems to fly in the face of the National Assembly sponsored Mynydd y Ffynnon project which aims to develop agriculture in harmony with the landscape and environment. It also entirely disregards the guidelines of the Ceredigion Structure and Local Plans, but due to the enormous size of the project the final planning decision will be taken by the Department of Trade and Industry in London, rather than in Ceredigion or Cardiff. The County Council will be a consultee, and if it resolves to object, there would then have to be a local Public Enquiry.
Over 250 wind turbines are already visible from Pumlumon, and the beautiful Mid-Wales Landscape is rapidly becoming industrialised. Almost half of all the wind turbines in Britain are situated in Wales, and there are plans for hundreds more. Consent for Cefn Croes would signal that our heartland can be sacrificed. If we do not act now we may be looking at an entirely industrialised landscape in years to come.
We all accept the need to conserve energy and to create sources of clean, renewable energy in order to limit the damage we are doing to the environment by burning fossil fuels. We do not accept, however, that Cefn Croes is an appropriate place for a massive industrial development.
We do not wish to see turbines on Cefn Croes because:
It is not necessary. There are many other more effective and less damaging ways of reducing our dependence upon fossil fuels. Examples are energy conservation, solar power, wind power in degraded or industrial locations, off shore wind power and wave or tidal power. Wind power stations like the one planned for Cefn Croes are one of the least reliable forms of “alternative” energy. The damage that the Cefn Croes power station will do to the landscape of Mid-Wales is not worth the small amount of electricity that it will generate.
It will destroy a place of great natural beauty. The Cambrian Mountains are a place of profound beauty, and a haven for rare wildlife. Places like Cefn Croes are part of the cultural and spiritual inheritance of Wales, loved by local people and visitors alike. The Cefn Croes turbines will despoil this priceless heartland without justification.
Local people will not benefit from it. RDC claim that the Cefn Croes development will be good for the local economy. This is not true. Only a small part of the total expenditure for the project will be spent in Mid-Wales and the sums of money offered to the local communities are derisory when compared the profits the company expect to make. The project will create very few local jobs. In the long term it is likely that the cumulative effect of power stations like Cefn Croes will undermine the valuable tourist trade, along with the livelihoods of the many local people who depend upon it. Tourists do not come to see industrialised landscapes, but to escape from them.
It is being imposed on us from outside. Enron Corporation, the company backing the scheme, is a large American multinational which, apart from developing wind power stations, also develops power stations which burn fossil fuel derivatives. Although RDC claims to be a Welsh company it is registered in Scotland and most of its employees live in England. The planning decision for Cefn Croes will be determined in London, by the Department of Trade and Industry, not at a local level. This makes a mockery of the ideals of local democracy and community participation which should be inherent in renewable energy projects.
The Darmstadt Manifesto, published by a German Professors’ Initiative Group in 1998, sets out very clearly the case against land-based wind power, and vindicates the position of the Cefn Croes Campaign.
The plans for Cefn Croes are widely seen to be inappropriate and damaging. Here is a selection of what conservationists and people of all shades of political opinion have said about the project.
“I am perplexed by this ongoing obsession with placing windfarms on land of high conservation value and in this instance, I am surprised that the application has even proceeded to this stage. Good luck to everyone involved in fighting this unnecessary windfarm.”
Iolo Williams (Noted Welsh Naturalist)
“This is mega madness in the mountains.”
Merfyn Williams, Director, CPRW (Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales)
“While wind energy is renewable our finest landscapes are not. Once a power station is built the open countryside for miles around is irredeemably flawed”
Lord Geraint Howells of Ponterwyd (former MP, Ceredigion, Liberal Democrat)
“At present there is an over-reliance on wind energy in Wales; Wales has one third of all the wind farms in the United Kingdom, which for us is saturation.”
Simon Thomas M.P. (Ceredigion, Plaid Cymru)
“We oppose and condemn the proposals to install a windfarm on an upland site at Cefn Croes.”
Wales Green Party
“I am totally opposed to windfarms and I have been campaigning for some time to stop projects such as the one you mention in Cefn Croes from going ahead.”
Nick Bourne (Leader, Welsh Conservatives)
It is possible to stop the Cefn Croes wind power station. When the applicants submit their formal Environmental Statement, there will be local opportunities to study the proposals and their impact. This should be publicised in the press, and if possible you should write for a copy of the Non Technical summary, which will be available free, on demand. A short period will be given for you to object which you should do by writing to the County Council (with a copy to the DTI). If you can, talk to your local County Councillor. If Ceredigion Council objects this will force a Public Enquiry, which is the proper forum for a decision of this magnitude.