Public Back Wind Power despite Lack of Policy; ENERGY

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE DUBE

THE granting of planning approval for Britain's most powerful wind farm at Cefn Croes near Cwmystwyth was the signpost for a new direction in UK energy policy.

Environmentalists had become increasingly alarmed by the fact that Government ministers had reopened the debate about nuclear power in the light of its commitment to produce 10pc of UK electricity from nonfossil sources by the year 2010.

The hidden costs of security and, crucially, safe storage of nuclear waste for thousands of years make nuclear power the most expensive and potentially dangerous of all, even if it does not create greenhouse gases.

But as the rows continue to rage with no clear solution for our power needs, the Cefn Croes proposals showed that a shift to wind power is considered almost as bad by some green campaigners.

Ceredigion Green Party, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Council for the Preservation of Rural Wales all opposed the plan. They said that the 39 turbines sited on the skyline of the Cambrian Mountains would spoil an area designated as the next National Park without benefiting local people. And they argued that alternative sources of renewable energy are available from solar and tidal power and off-shore wind stations.

Former Ceredigion MP Cynog Dafis, now AM for Mid and West Wales, became unpopular with local residents by supporting the project.

Mr Dafis said the opponents had adopted a preservationist approach to environmental issues and had not taken on board the need to secure energy supplies without the pollution caused by fossil fuels.

"In my view they are insufficiently engaged in the crucial question of sustainable development of which wind energy is a perfect example, " he said. …