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FIGHTING TALK

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW), is to continue its opposition to all proposed wind farms. However, it says it would be prepared to consider small scale proposals under certain circumstances The tough stance of the CPRW has already caused resignations within its own ranks.

Doughty defender of the Welsh landscape, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW), is to continue its blanket opposition to all proposed wind farms there. In a strongly worded background to its new policy on wind power, the CPRW refers to the growth of wind energy in Wales as "a subsidy driven invasion by industrialised structures into the heart of our most precious and vulnerable landscapes."

The pressure group claims to welcome the government's adoption of the Rio Convention on climate change, but doubts wind energy's contribution to reducing harmful emissions from the electricity industry. It is concerned that the government's competitive bidding system, the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation, conflicts with protection of the environment. "Operators' profit margins inevitably favour large schemes in the best windy sites particularly in upland and coastal areas," it says.

It is "alarmed" that the planning process has been "unable to prevent the intrusions of large groups of turbines at wind power stations on conspicuous horizons throughout Wales -- many of which are becoming inter-visible" . It believes the British Wind Energy Association's Best Practice Guidelines will only discourage some of the more extreme proposals or achieve only a modest damage limitation in wind farm design and layout.

Setting out its policy the CPRW regards wind farm applications as a major threat to the Welsh landscape with minimal benefit to the rural economy. It says it will continue to oppose them in upland areas and other valued landscapes. However, it would be prepared to consider small scale proposals provided they meet all of its demands.

Previous CPRW policy came under criticism in 1994 from an all party parliamentary group, the Welsh Affairs Committee, for being based on exaggeration and misinformation. In its new policy the CPRW has carefully steered clear of some of its more outrageous claims which were refuted decisively last year by the Welsh Members of Parliament in their report.

The CPRW's tough stance on wind farms has already alienated a proportion of its own membership, some having resigned in protest.

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