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NAEG comments to PCNPA on Renewable Energy

PCNPA Officers produced a new Consultation Report to the Authority on 12th October 2011

In summary: As a result of NAEG’s comments on the Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on Renewable Energy, PCNPA Officers have accepted that solar panels and solar photovoltaics are allowed to be installed without planning permission (up to 100% coverage and not to a maximum of 9 sq m as formerly advised) on roofs of a dwelling or a building within the curtilage of a dwelling (even if they front a highway) anywhere within the National Park, including within Conservation Areas (This is conditional upon them not protruding more than 200m from the plane of the roof or the highest part of the solar equipment not protruding higher than the highest part of the roof excluding chimneys)

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Local Produce Market

In July 2010 Nathan Richards, who grows organic fruit and vegetables in LlwynDafydd and sells his produce at St Dogmaels’ Local Food Producers Market, asked Newport Area Environment Group if they could find a venue in Newport for his stall.

Nathan worked in the film industry for 20 years and is concerned about ecology and food growing. Being the nephew of Patrick Holden(former director of the Soil Association for 15 years), he had contact with the early organic movement as a child.

Nathan has now been growing food for 9 years and feels strongly that we need to address food issues such as food miles and out of season food. Now that he is producing food, he wants to sell it locally to serve the community where he lives and see a move towards weekly farmers markets. Feedback is that his produce is “fantastic” and he intends do markets at Llanachaeron and Aberaeron.

In March 2010 Newport Area Environment Group, whilst in the process of trying to secure a suitable site in Newport, discovered that Newport Town Council had recently decided to set up a Local Produce Market independently and so NAEG passed their information to the town council (who have considerably more resources at their disposal with which to achieve success with this project).

NAEG wishes Newport Town Council every success in continuing this project to bring a Local Produce Market to Newport.

Newport Community Energy Project

Newport Area Environment Group, working with West Wales EcoCentre’s People’s Power Station project have teamed up with Newport Memorial Hall to create Newport Community Energy Project (NCEP)

NEWSFLASH: Newport Memorial Hall is through to the next round of funding for ‘Energyshare’.

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LAND AHOY! Newport Allotments at last

For over 6 years a group of residents have longed to find land for allotments in Newport. Down the years diverse efforts have been made, with many letters, meetings, approaches to Authorities – the Barony, the Community and later Town and County Councils. Continue reading

‘Retrofitting Houses’ talk


Newport Area Environment Group is facilitating a series of talks by local experts covering a range of environmental subjects relevant to Pembrokeshire. The first such talk, on 19th May, by Brian Mark on ‘Retrofitting Houses” was well attended by an audience which included several local architects, National Park planners and a former Government Advisor for the Environment.
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Report: Approval Procedures for Hydro Generating Installation

Here is a Report by Vicky Moller, Vice-Chair of the Group, and one of our leading Members on Renewable Energy (Sustainable Power) issues. She has been invited to attend a discussion in the near future with the U.K. Environment Agency in London, on the topic of the Regulation and Assessment of how much so-called micro scale hydro-power generating installation can contribute in future to our sustainable ‘energy’ needs. Her she discusses the topic of the history and pro and cons of EA regulation of this technology to date.

Hydro for Wales – will the environment agency stop it?

I am convinced not. However there have been hold-ups and frustration with the regulations imposed by the agency. Hold-ups have been up to 3 years, 2 to provide all the information to the agency, eg counting fish over the year, and wait for their response, and one to order the generating equipment.

This is galling when there is the risk of feed in tariffs disappearing on the chariot of fire on which they descended from govt.

The exciting bit, for me, is that it is easy to influence events, I am finding. Our environment group responded to the EA consultation on making it simpler to get hydro, or I responded on their behalf and am invited to London Westminster this month to hear and discuss their proposals. The group wanted this reported, as they are paying my fare. We welcome views and suggestions from anyone in Wales, especially transition organisations.

Back to the wonderful complexities of the issue.

Make no mistake, hydro is the Cinderella of renewables, least regarded, least invested in but the real princess of the bunch. The reasons are all obvious: Water is most energy dense, water flows steadily, is easy to access for repairs and installation. Hydro generators last 100 years, or used to! The life of PV and wind kit is calculated at 20 years.

We need two kinds of power, bread and butter constant for eg lights, water-pumps and computers (bread and butter to me anyway) and special purpose manufacturing, power tools which can be used intermittently when there is the power. Hydro brings home the bread and butter, is the full time worker, getting time off during droughts when her fancy sister pv generally stands in.

But hydro has and can cause problems more serious than lack of power! In the middle ages the rivers and streams of Britain teemed with fish, then watermills were installed everywhere without regard for the fish that fed the peasants. Weirs blocked their spawning grounds, streams suddenly dried up when sluices opened, fish were killed in water wheels, their numbers dropped and sea fishing took off.

In addition to risks for fish there are risks of floods upstream when water is impounded, and depriving people downstream of flows, or their chance of hydro. So hydro cannot be installed willy nilly, regulation is reasonable. Which is more important fish-rich rivers or lit up houses? There is only one right answer, even if people haven’t got it.

The EA didn’t mean to stop hydro by taking 2 years to give an answer, they were just unprepared for the surge of applications. Hence the consultation on getting it simpler. The Welsh Environment Agency has decided to do it differently to England and make it simpler still. However we don’t know how soon their simple plan will leave the table and be on the streets, or the waterways.

One reason people don’t rate hydro is that very few people live at the bottom of waterfalls. Low flat rich land and cities go together. Rocky mountains, hydro potential and sparse habitation go together. What few have noticed is that people have legs, mountains, tides, winds don’t. I was in North Wales slate country and so jealous, they had it all, land for food, slate and forests to build, towering waterfalls for oodles of power. The residents of all backgrounds seemed blind to their enormous luck, there wasn’t a transition movement in sight!

Feed in Tariffs and their solidity. They arrived dripping gold, and some leapt to the opportunity, Now they may waver or shrivel in the October spending review, they could disappear or shrink at any time, and are predicted to in less than 3 years when their review is scheduled. Hydro feed in tariffs have been swathed in uncertainty from the start. Which equipment is certified? None certainly, which installers certified? one or two for Wales, a few more for Scotland. Arguments are ongoing. The trade don’t want certification required for equipment, as old kit works and lasts better than new. Again I was arguing this point with the woman in charge of writing the regulations at Ecobuild 2009. She accepted I had valid points and said it was useful to her deliberations. It would be gratifyng that one can have an influence on policy by arguing at a stand in a show, but it really demonstrates how arbitrary and incompetent the process is.

Vicky Moller
01239 820971

Hapus i gyfathrebu’n Gymraeg neu yn Saesneg.
Happy to communicate in Welsh or English

Renewable Energy Policies

Renewable energy policies

As a Group we are committed to lobbying for changes to government policies (at UK, Welsh and County/Park level) to enable and promote a greater reliance on meeting our future energy needs on an increasingly local and renewably generated basis.

In this regard we engage fully with the consultations and debate in recent years concerning the planning rules on the installation of so-called ‘domestic-scale’ renewable energy technology micro-generation installation. This is a fancy way of referring to things like solar heating panels and small-scale wind turbines on a house-holder scale and also includes photovoltaic electricity panels, ground sourced heat pumps, micro-hydro and domestic scale CHP systems.

Our most significant lobbying success to date has probably been to seek a more liberal planning regime in favour of the installation of domestic scale solar heating panels here in Wales than pertains in England. Until as recently as September last (2008) the position in Wales on the thorny issue of when does a householder need to apply for planning permission to install roof mounted solar panels was not only very confused, with different local planning authorities applying different interpretation to the law; but we also didn’t have the benefit of the purpose made provisions, introduced in England as long before as April the previous year (2007), which made specific exemptions in favour of certain technologies. Now, at last, Ms Davidson (Welsh Environment Minister) has introduced the same legislation in Wales, but a little better in that it permits the installation of roof mounted solar panels (without the need of specific planning permission) even if the property is in a Buildings Conservation Area and the roof is visible from the highway.