Other news round-ups: Winter 2005/6 | Summer 2006 | Spring 2008
Environment Agency Wales failed in its prosecution of contractors Jones Bros. Ruthin for a pollution incident at Cefn Croes on June23-24th 2004. The case failed on a technicality, and Jones Bros. escaped with a warning. So no-one involved in the Cefn Cres development has been held accountable for any of the damage, or for any of the numerous deviations from planning conditions. Enforcement mechanisms are weak, and there is no political will to apply them. But at least EA tried.
During the 7 months March to September 2005, the average output was 24% (of the installed capacity of 58.5 megawatts) or 14 megawatts. Monthly outputs ranged from a high of 30% in May to a low of 14% in August. The full figures are given below, and will be updated as data become available.
If we make the generous assumption that the subsequent five months from October 2005 to February 2006 all manage to match May's high, the annual average output is likely to be 25-30% or 15-17 megawatts. This for a power station that evaded local planning procedures on the grounds that it was bigger than 50 megawatts!
If this is the best that can be achieved by an "exemplar" project in an optimal site (high, windy plateau) using state-of-the-art turbines, then Cefn Croes developers and the wind-farm industry have been misleading policymakers in Westminster and Cardiff Bay, planning authorities, and the public.
(output as % of installed capacity)
|Overall Mar-Sep 2005||72739||24%||14|
On an income (sales, to distributors, of electricity and Renewable Obligation Certificates) of roughly £90 per MWh, operators Falck took in around £6.5 million in the first 7 months of full operation. Wind power, with its huge hidden subsidies, is today's fastest way for big business to make money.
* Click here to see full data (from Ofgem, the electricity regulator) for all UK wind farms from September 2004 to September 2005. Note that Cefn Croes data is split into two rows, described as Cefn Croes (row 126) and New Werfa (row 140); the table above adds these two rows. We are trying to find out why there is this split; possibly it enhances the efficiency of the windfarm - in generating money for its operators!
DEFRA has said that Assembly Ministers Carwyn Jones (Environment & Planning) and Andrew Davies (Economic development) are responsible for using public land for wind developments, rather than the Forestry Commissioners. Despite that, a formal complaint has been made against Welsh Forestry Commissioner Gareth Wardell, for a conflict of interests: he was an adviser to ECO2 - an energy company seeking to develop wind-farms in South Wales - at the same time as being privy to confidential information regarding FCW policy and its close relationship with TAN8 Strategic "Search" Areas.
FCW has completed analysis of pre-qualification questionnaires, to weed out weaker wind developers for its SSA sites. "Invitations to tender" (selling Wales to the highest bidder) have now gone out to the preferred candidates, and WAG/FC hope to have Option Agreements signed by October 2006.
The unseemly rush to flog off our public forests and uplands is driven by the urgent need to meet arbitrary political targets, and to ensure that the handover of public land to large single developers has progressed beyond the point of no return well before the 2007 Assembly Elections, and any post-election policy re-think.
The Cefn Croes Action Group was represented at the Forestry Commission's "Woodlands for Wales" conference, held on January 12th 2006 in The Pavilion, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, "……to consider progress on the 'National Assembly for Wales Strategy for Trees and Woodlands'". There were no direct references to sales of FCW land to wind turbine developers, but plenty to "the over-arching imperative of fulfilling the National Assembly's objectives". Click here for a report.
On 23 January the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Minister
for Energy launched the consultation document "Our Energy Challenge:
securing clean, affordable energy for the long term". The consultation
is open to members of the public: find out more at http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/review/index.shtml
and have your say!
Despite the assertion of WAG minister Andrew Davies, that Cefn Croes is an "exemplar" renewable energy project, Wales' number-one eyesore came only seventh in an end-of year DTI list of the ten 'best' UK renewable energy schemes started in 2005.
It is now one year since the 39 turbines were erected. No money has yet been received by the local community. Local County Councillor Fred Williams has been told that none will be forthcoming until August 2006 (despite the turbines having produced elecricity since March 2005). Indeed, any local benefit is hard to discern.
A report commissioned by the DTI in 2003 from ADAS Consulting confirms that wind power stations in remote rural areas confer very little economic benefit, thus undermining one of the main reasons proffered by developers as to why they should be accepted.
The EMC now concedes that Cefn Croes is an environmental disaster. Attention focuses on the peat damage - most severe around turbines 25-30, but 31-35, 19-21 and 36-39 are also affected. The Scottish Wind Assessment Project, which is reporting to the Scottish Parliament on the notorious Derrybrien peatslide in Co. Galway, Ireland, also features shocking images of the peat damage on Cefn Croes.
The Cefn Croes Action Group has responded to: the Welsh Affairs Select Committee consultation on Energy in Wales; the Regulatory Reform Order (Forestry) - click to read representation; and the Commons Environmental Audit Committee paper "Keeping the Lights on" - click to read representation. It has also met with Gareth Wardell (a commissioner with the Forestry Commission for Wales) and Ian Forshaw, FCW's new Director. The meeting (click for Minutes) was not reassuring, as Mr. Forshaw regards it as part of his remit to help implement the Assembly's plans for a massive expansion of onshore wind in the TAN 8 Strategic Search Areas - 53% of which are FCW land.
Jon Westlake, the FCW officer charged with implementing TAN 8, set out the timetable at a recent British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) fringe meeting. It is:
See http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-6hyjdu for further info.
This new charity was formed in April 2005 to work for a better future for the
Cambrian Mountains and their communities, so long neglected, undervalued, and
abused - and yet so nearly a National Park. The Society's medium term goal is
a Cambrian Mountains Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Read more on the Cambrian
Mountains Society website.
Henceforth, summary updates will be posted quarterly. The Cefn Croes saga is not yet complete.
Other news round-ups: Winter 2005/6 | Summer 2006 | Spring 2008