Mr Mark Vyvyan-Robinson’s letter of April 24 raises a number of points, which need to be addressed:

  • He writes that Garn Fach Wind Farm would be capable of generating 110 MW, enough to provide the electricity needs of 60,000 households. These figures are true if wind farms were generating massive capacity all the time. In practice, as he well knows, wind farms usually generate 20-25 per cent of capacity (that is the ‘load factor’, in the jargon of the trade), so the actual maximum amount is more like 30MW and 17,000 households – erring on the generous side. He is also honest enough to say that the generation is “low carbon”, rather than “carbon-free”, as huge amounts of carbon is generated in the production of the wind turbines and of course they need to be backed up by carbon (usually gas) turbines on the days the wind does not blow.
  • He admits that the local public had less than a fortnight to plan attendance at public information days at village halls in January, displaying considerable ignorance of the time it takes for local people to change their plans in remote locations: even the National Grid a decade ago gave four to six weeks notice of its information days. Averaging three people to a household, a take up rate of just one per cent is not terribly high. Nevertheless we welcome his assurance that there will be future such events.
  • We consider it extraordinary that, as he writes, there is “no detailed information about the grid connection”. This is a clear case of putting the cart before the horse: no grid connection, obviously no wind farm. This matter is of grave concern to the 4,000 people who publicly demonstrated against the NG Mid-Wales pylon connection or any added infrastructure that leads to one.
  • Mr Vyvyan-Robinson wrote that there has never been a “ban” on wind farms in England. He is clearly unaware that in 2015, following major representations from countryside environmental groups, David Cameron announced the ending of the consumer funded subsidies for on-shore wind that made the industry viable, as well as a ban on all turbines without the approval of local community - which applied to almost every application in England and put an almost immediate halt to development in England. (As SoS for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd noted in her statement to the House of Commons in 2015, around 2500 turbines were unlikely to be built as a result).
  • He is right to say that energy generation is devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government. However we do not believe that the WAG would ignore the English example of localism prevailing on this matter: and of course National Grid connections are not a devolved matter. It is as well to recall that in Community Council supervised polls carried out at the time of the NG Mid-Wales pylon connection some 90 per cent of Mid-Wales people were opposed.
  • Mr Vyvyan-Robinson said the Garn Fach wind farm proposal has been modified to take account of the rejection of the Llaithdu proposal on the same site. The proposed new wind farm would be spectacularly more visible than the old in dominating the skyline of Newtown and the lovely Severn Valley, the biggest population centre of Mid Wales and as such is even more unacceptable than the Llaithdu proposal.

Robert Harvey

Press Officer, Montgomeryshire Against Pylons