August 9th 2006
I welcome this opportunity to comment on the npower renewables’ construction consent application for wind turbines at Gwynt y Mor.
The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) view is that Wales should concentrate on renewable energy and, in particular, wind energy. WAG is also of the opinion that nuclear energy should not feature in Wales’ future energy production.
The Welsh Affairs Committee of the Westminster Parliament held an inquiry into Energy in Wales. Its report was published on 20th July 2006. The Wind Energy chapter provides some history and a balanced view of evidence both for and against wind energy for Wales, onshore and offshore.
Significantly the Welsh Affairs Committee reached no firm conclusion about wind energy. The Committee did however express concern about the Renewable Obligation scheme whereby licensed electricity suppliers are required to deliver a specified amount of electricity from eligible renewable sources. Witnesses indicated that the scheme encourages wind energy and not other renewable energy sources (Paras 22 and 26).
I agree entirely with the Committee’s view that “Government at all levels will need to improve upon their communications strategy to explain both the benefits and limitations of wind power” (Para 195). The Committee added “wind energy cannot be a complete substitute for nuclear power” (Para 196).
Representations to me from constituents, for and against the proposal, were passed to the Secretary of State and acknowledged by the Minister for Energy, Mr Malcolm Wicks MP. He confirmed he will consider all points made by constituents “and will balance the need to meet the Government’s targets for renewable energy generation, and thereby reduce carbon emissions, against any potential local impacts.” The Minister is well placed to do this as he led the review of UK energy policy at the request of the Prime Minister.
Potential local impacts have concerned most constituents opposed to the proposal. Flooding, a tsunami, business ruin, noise pollution, scale of the project, visual impact, disturbance to marine habitat and life, lowering of home prices and, in general, a reduced quality of life, are merely some points made.
I met npower representatives and they subsequently provided me with responses which I passed to constituents by letter.
Constituents who support the proposals tended to reject many concerns of objectors and pointed to the advantages of renewable energy including reduced carbon emissions.
By the beginning of this year it was clear to me that if the Government does not reject the application then there should be a full public enquiry. This would enable public opinion, both objectors and supporters, to be fully considered alongside the technical aspects of the proposal.
In January 2006 I made a request for a public enquiry to the Secretary of State. The Minister responded on the 8th February 2006 that “I can confirm that when I consider this application in due course I will have to decide whether to approve consent, refer it to a public enquiry or reject it”.
I now await the Minister’s decision.
7 August 2006
Erith & Thamesmead’s MP, John Austin, who lives in Lower Belvedere, is regretting not taking his holidays in August! He said “After a busy week, I was looking forward to relaxing in my garden at the weekend but was forced to retreat indoors and eventually close the windows on both Saturday and Sunday because of the smell emanating from Thames Water’s sewerage works. I have since received complaints from neighbours and have also been informed that during the week, the smell was experienced as far away as Upper Belvedere”.
John Austin has made representations to Thames Water about the problem. He added “They promised us a virtually odour-free summer. I know that there will be smells from time to time from a sewerage works but this has been persistent over several days”.
John Austin has also referred the matter to Bexley Council, which last year won a court case against Thames Water over the issue of odour release.
7 August 2006
David Lepper, Labour and Co-operative MP for Brighton Pavilion, joined the Co-operative Group’s Climate Change Commandos at this year’s Brighton Pride in Preston Park, Brighton, on Saturday 5 August to help spread the message about fighting climate change.
Brighton Pride, the largest free gay pride event in the UK, attracts tens of thousands of people to Brighton in August each year for the spectacular parade and carnival in Preston Park.
David Lepper said:
“Pride is one of the high points of the summer season for the city, not only bringing visitors from all over the world but also providing a great day out for local people.
“This is the second year running the Co-op Group has been present at Pride and I was glad of the chance to help spread the message about the Co-op’s campaign on climate change. Co-op MPs have played an important part in backing Mark Lazarowicz MP’s Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill in Parliament which, among other things, will ensure more support for micro-generation schemes.
“The Co-operative Group can be proud of its record in backing renewable energy through schemes such as the 7,000 photo-voltaic panels on the Co-operative Financial Services CIS building in Manchester.
“July 6 saw the launch of the Coldham Wind Farm in Cambridgeshire – a joint venture between the Co-operative Group and Scottish Power – a £17m eight-turbine wind farm to produce energy for 9000 homes, saving 36,000tonnes of CO2 per year.”