Welsh Green Dragon


Windfarms get go ahead from locals in the valleys by Chris Halpin

So it seems the people in the valleys of the Cynon, Rhondda, Afan and Neath valleys are Y.I.M.B.Y’s?

The not in my back yarders must be a little miffed as it seems this time they are in the minority, after an independent survey has revealed that only 1 in 10 people were against wind farms being developed.

The survey was carried out by BMG Research on behalf of Nuon Renewables who are planning to construct wind turbines near Pen-y-Cymoedd.

All the stats can be found in the Western Mail’s online article from last week but the most interesting is that 73% of people are in favour of more wind energy but with 63% percent fully backing wind farms. What does this mean exactly? Whats the difference? A bit dubious that one.

It’s all certainly at odds with last months news in the South Wales Argus that residents were not consulted about Tesco’s plans to erect two turbines at their store in Newport. Check out the comments on the article, it certainly ruffled a few feathers.

Regardless of that case, could the acceptance of the more isolated valley communities mean that public feeling towards wind turbines is changing, or are people just indifferent? What could be the reason behind it? Maybe its internet based campaigns which have cast this renewable energy source in a more favourable light? Plus if big companies and brands are beginning to back the use of wind and appear sustainable, then psychologically people may think, ‘Well if its good enough for them then its good enough for us’.

Some of my colleagues studying the Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism ventured north to gauge public opinion in Aberdare for themselves.

I think it would be much easier for people to stomach if the wind farms became community projects or co-operatives. When fuel prices start to rocket perhaps more wind farm co-operative projects like the West Mill Farm in Oxfordshire formed in 2006 or the Baywind project in Cumbria which goes back to 1996, will become more commonplace.

It certainly is important to dispel some of the myths that surround wind turbines, with regard to noise and also the public fearing the safety of birds – why would the RSPB back wind farms if that were the case? I could not comment on the noise as I am yet to get up close and personal with a wind turbine, although it is definitely on my list of things to do (that makes me sound a little bit like a train spotter!). Its all about personal opinion, and the press seem to be filling many column inches with arguments for and against our move as a nation to utilises the renewable power of the wind.

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To me it seems there is a general consensus that renewable energy should be a priority for this country – the question is are windfarms the way to go? The largest can have a hub height of 110m and a total height including blades of 150m, and there is so much speculation about their actual efficiency – some figures indicating a power output as low as 30% of the stated power output essentially meaning you’d need three turbines to produce the power of one. They can be elegant and a positive symbol of a greener future in the right context but it seems little attention has been paid to other forms of renewable energy – biofuels, geothermal, tidal etc. Surely a balance of these rather than all our eggs in a wind powered basket would be best?

Comment by Dave Hine




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