[Mrs Linda Riordan in the Chair] — Wind Farms (Mid-Wales)
Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire, Conservative)
It will come as no surprise to the hon. Gentleman that in principle I do agree with him on that point, but I want to touch on that area and the relationship to the National Assembly for Wales later in my speech.
The people of mid-Wales are a reasonable people. If the proposal were essential to the national interest, or if it was necessary in some way to accept the destruction of our environment for some overwhelmingly greater good, we would in all probability accept it with traditional stoicism. We would be deeply upset, of course, but we would accept the responsibility to our nation. However, that is obviously not the case; the development is all for no good purpose.
I will not go into detail about the utterly pathetic performance of the onshore wind sector in Wales, but each day we read new reports of how poorly its performance compares with what is claimed for it when new proposals are put forward. The Renewable Energy Foundation tells me that its most recent figures show that Welsh wind farms have a load factor of just 19%—the lowest ever recorded. We also know that there is a need for back-up energy generation to cover periods when the wind is not blowing, or is blowing too strongly. Little is heard about that when onshore wind developers extol the virtues of their proposals and sell their wares. The truth is that onshore wind simply does not deliver what we are told it will; it does not do what it says on the tin.
The most important industry in mid-Wales is seriously under threat because of the proposals. In my constituency alone, the local tourism alliance estimates the value of tourism at £360 million per year, and 6,300 jobs depend on it. Tourism dominates the economy, but the beautiful landscape of mid-Wales will be sacrificed on the altar of a false god. What sense can it make to erect up to
800 new turbines in mid-Wales when they will be 30 to 50 miles from any connection to the national grid? That makes no economic or climate change sense whatever; it is almost as if the plan was drawn up with no consideration of where the national grid was.