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From the Western Mail

Saturday, 27 August 2005

 Moratorium on wind farms needed

SIR - The Total oil refinery at Milford Haven proposes building four gigantic wind turbines within a few kilometres of a population of more than 30,000.
There are not many wind farms in the UK so close to a large conurbation and it is disturbing to reflect that a Keele University report last month told us, "We have clearly shown that both fixed speed and variable speed turbines generate low frequency vibrations which are multiples of blade passing frequencies and can be detected by seismometers buried in the ground at significant distances away from wind farms even in the presence of significant levels of background seismic noise (many kilometres)."
It is already known that some people are very sensitive to infrasound and there is concern that health problems may be a consequence.
As the Council for Science and Technology has recently advised Government that wind power cannot in any case solve the carbon dioxide problem without resort to large-scale technology such as nuclear power, why are we persisting in this harmful "wind rush", when a moratorium and independent cost-benefit study is needed?
To put this in perspective, these giant wind turbines would generate a little over a thousandth of the electricity which would be produced by the two gas-fired CCGT power stations also proposed for the Haven.

Australia's lessons
SIR - I am reading more about the interest in establishing wind farms in Wales. While they are relatively few at this stage the full impact of wind farms is probably not appreciated by most people in the community.
In Australia there is a push under way to establish wind farms in the countryside and along the coastal strip and we are now starting to understand their impact on landscapes, wildlife and rural communities.
I don't live near a wind farm or a wind farm proposal. I became interested in wind farms when one was proposed next to a wildlife and wetland reserve at Bald Hills which I worked with the community to establish more than 25 years ago.
Bald Hills is a haven for wildlife with more than 160 species of birds and 14 species of bats and this is partly because of the wetland rehabilitation work and nearby reserves and partly because a number of local farmers adopted farming practices that included wildlife conservation.
Prior to investigating the possible effects the proposed Bald Hills wind farm I didn't have an opinion one way or another about wind farms, however I soon learnt that wind turbines kill birds and bats and was astounded to hear overseas reports describing just how many.
Expansive wind farms at Altamont, California, USA, have killed nearly 50,000 birds over a 20-year period - including golden eagles, red-tailed kites, burrowing owls, great horned owls, barn owls and many others.
My next discovery was that in Spain, a report commissioned by the regional government of Navarra concluded that 368 turbines at 10 sites had killed nearly 7,000 wild birds in a single year, including 409 griffon vultures, 24 eagles and 650 bats. In Germany, studies show turbines have killed dozens of red-tailed kites.
Reports from Europe and the USA also mentioned that some birds at particular times avoided using areas surrounding wind farms.
If bird kills weren't enough information I discovered 475 bat carcasses were found during limited searches at the Mountaineer wind farm in USA. It was estimated that over 3,000 were likely to have been killed in one year.
It became clear to me that wind farms have environmental impacts and placing one anywhere near wildlife areas was unacceptable.
I understand Wales now has a strategy for expanding the wind industry, however from my experience this is an industry that needs to be watched as proponents seem to think they are, or ought to be, exempt from environmental laws. Wind farmers are, unfortunately, all too often supported by public servants in departments with an obligation to protect wildlife and wildlife conservation groups who fail to live up to their charter. Of course you need to be aware of the brat environmentalists - the ones who influence public servants and generate green votes for selected politicians but are otherwise nothing more or less than fanatics. Get one on the other end of the phone and you will know what I mean.
It is now becoming politically expedient to shift wind farm proposals from onshore to offshore - that is from someone's electorate to no-man's land. Although this may reduce the concerns by people who do not want turbines nearby, and let weak politicians of the hook, it poses a devastating future for seabirds.
In Australia we have all learnt something from wind farms. I and many others have come to realise again that we do value wildlife and we are not prepared to allow wind farms to vandalise our heritage. Whatever the future may have for us, wildlife has a place in it.
Andrew Chapman
Beach Avenue,

Stop this blight
SIR - May I please support K L Anderson's plea to stop the wind turbine development at Mynydd-y-Gwair (Letters, August 19)? Indeed, may I implore all Welshmen to wake up and defend their beautiful country from this blight?
If wind farms offered any significant contribution to mankind's response to global warming I would hesitate to oppose them but the fact is that they don't. The wind industry makes claims about its developments which should be exposed, and your newspaper is an excellent place to do it.
For example, it is claimed that the massive development at Cefn Croes will provide electricity for 42,000 homes. This figure, of course, is based on maximum output. What we are not told is that wind turbines produce less than 30% of maximum output overall.
Also, electricity is less than 30% of the domestic fuel consumption (heat, light and cooking) of the average British household. Even if you are only slightly mathematical you can work out that this development will actually power one tenth of the claimed number of homes - at best 4,200. There are 7,000 new homes built in Wales every year!
The truth is that wind farms are a fig leaf - a means of letting the Government off the hook of seriously reducing fossil fuel consumption. Why it should not want to reduce consumption is another matter, but the words "Bush" and "Oil" have a nagging insistency!
As a postscript I would like to add: I was recently crossing the Denbigh Moors. The sun was sinking behind Snowdonia and setting the moorland grasses aflame. This was the most beautiful scene I had ever witnessed in Wales.
These very moors are now targeted by the Welsh Assembly Government for massive wind turbine development.
Yet another of the finest hillscapes in Wales will be ruined - for nothing.
Steve Davies