A petition has been filed with the Senedd’s Petitions Committee that is seeking to force the Welsh Government to consider the full range of clean possible energy sources to get Wales to net zero and minimise the amount of countryside and farmland sacrificed.
CPRW The Welsh Countryside Charity, has tabled a petition calling for a temporary moratorium on onshore wind and ground based solar proposals greater than 10MW, until the Welsh Government updates its energy policies to reflect the advances in technology and include the full potential of offshore wind, rooftop solar, tidal, wave, hydrogen and nuclear.
Ross Evans, Spokesperson for CPRW says he was astounded when the Welsh Climate Change Minister admitted that current energy policy does not include offshore wind as it hasn’t been updated in three years.
“The Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS, publicly stated that ‘The full potential of offshore wind is not currently included in Future Wales, as it hasn’t been updated since 2020’. Evans and the rest of the room (mostly wind developers) were agog at the response.
CPRW believes that without the inclusion of the full potential of far offshore wind, which is currently being rolled out at pace, the Welsh Government’s calculations of what is needed to get Wales to be a net energy producer is going to be one-sided.
“Proposals in the Irish and Celtic seas are forecast to produce up to 100TWh of electricity, which alone is more than twice what we are predicted to need by 2050. And, partially due to the effective ban on onshore wind in England, offshore wind is now as comparatively as cheap as onshore.” added Evans.
A recent study for CPRE in England showed that rooftop solar also has a major role to play. Installing solar panels on new buildings, existing large warehouse rooftops and other land such as car parks, could provide at least 40-50 gigawatts (GW) of low carbon electricity, contributing more than half of the total national target of 70GW of solar energy by 2035.
Rachel Evans [no relation!] from the Countryside Alliance says the petition has the full support of the CA, as more and more of our countryside is being sacrificed when it doesn’t need to be.
She stated that “We are not calling for an end to onshore wind or solar, indeed, this petition would not stop small-scale community and farm-based projects. What we are saying is that when taking all options into account, the land needed to be sacrificed is reduced dramatically.”
“The UK as a country of 65 million only produces enough food for 20 million, it is vital that we are not sacrificing much-needed farmland.”
The tourism sector will also be impacted by the industrialisation of our countryside with energy projects, and the pylons needed to connect them, stretching across the heart of Wales.
Katie Barstow from Fforest Fields campsite in Hundred House (which welcomed nearly 15,000 visitors to the region in 2022) says that Covid policies, business rate hikes, the proposed Tourism Tax and a shifting economy has meant remaining positive, proactive and focused is enough additional workload for their team, only for the myopic energy policy of the Welsh Government to cause a further worry about the region and business’s future.
“Many guests have expressed concerns about the disruptions that will be ongoing with pylons running right through the park. The idea of enormous amounts of concrete being poured into Aberedw Hill behind us makes us feel very uneasy. Let alone what it means for our community and the important Radnorshire upland biome.
“It has been a hard time for the tourism sector and now as things are starting to pick up a huge cloud of doubt has been placed over our and many other businesses. People come here to experience this unique and historic upland countryside; it would never be the same again”. Says Barstow.
Brecon and Radnor MP, Fay Jones, also has concerns about the unnecessary major proposals across mid Wales.
“I simply do not understand why the Welsh Government are determined on industrialising our countryside when there is no need to?!
“The ‘pre-assessed areas’ that the Welsh Government have commissioned give presumed consent to 200+ meter high turbines over huge areas of untouched rural areas, miles away from any National Grid connection. This would also mean that we face pylons criss-crossing our scenery, which would be unnecessary if they can be placed offshore.
We are only now seeing the tip of what is to come.” said Jones.
Jenny Chryss from campaign group ‘RE-think: Don’t Break the Heart of Wales’ says that hardly anyone knows about the sheer scale of proposals facing Wales.
“There are over 60 massive projects being proposed across Wales through the Welsh Government’s Developments of National Significance (DNS) application system with at least another 30 waiting in the wings.
“All we are asking is for the full potential of all clean power sources to be taken into account.” said Chryss.
Gwyn Thomas from a community group in the Dulais valley in South Wales says that the valleys are facing their second assault from onshore wind.
“The South Wales valleys have arguably done more than their fair share for energy production. As we are getting over coal and the valley was finally starting to return to its green landscape, wind turbines sprung up across South Wales, under the Welsh Government’s TAN 8 system.
“It is already difficult to travel through the valleys without seeing at least two large wind farms. Under this new system we will see even more turbines spring up across the valleys, only twice the size of the old ones!”
“The communities of Neath Port Talbot are totally disgruntled by the Welsh Government’s insistence on saturating the local authority with hideous massive wind turbines and fields of solar panels. There comes a point where enough is enough and it is high time that democracy replaced dictatorship.” said Thomas.
Ross Evans, spokesperson for CPRW, added that the Welsh Countryside Charity supports a wide mix of clean energy to be used for Wales to transition to net zero.
“We are in a climate emergency, but we are also in a nature emergency: we need to give equal focus to addressing both. Destroying habitats and industrialising our countryside is not going to help nature.
“In order to fully transition to Net Zero we need a mixed approach that takes nature into account as well as climate change. The level of energy needed to help the likes of TATA steel to decarbonise can never be produced by onshore wind. Offshore could provide the level, but not consistency of energy needed. This means that we would either need new nuclear or hydrogen for the steel works to move to either an electric or a hydrogen furnace.”
The petition is live on the Senedd’s Petitions Committee for you to sign until the 8th Dec 2023 and is online here: https://petitions.senedd.wales/petitions/245471
You can also sign the petition by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or by stopping by CPRW’s stall in the Countryside Care section of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show 24-27 July at the RWAS showground in Llanelwedd.
You can download a printable version of the petition here: Paper Petition Bilingual – Template – please return all copies to CPRW no later than 1st December 2023.
You can also print a leaflet to hand out to members of the public with a scanable QR code here: Sign our petition leaflet