A BEEF and sheep farming family from Blaenffos have highlighted the benefits of solar power to their business but stressed the importance of improvement to infrastructure to further develop the sector.
Wyn and Glenda Jones, of Pantyderi and Trefach farms, together with their son Eurig, rear beef and sheep plus arable acreage for home consumption on both holdings which run to 1,000 acres in total.
Across the two businesses the family farm 70 suckler cows, 400 store cattle, and 2,000 breeding ewes. Since 1985, the family also offer selfcatering cottages all year round.
In 2012 the Jones family decided to diversify into renewable energy and installed 104kw of solar panels.
There are now two installations of 50kw at Pantyderi and a 4kw installation at Trefach for domestic use.
Renewable energy schemes produce more than 20% of the UK’s electricity, and EU targets mean that this is likely to increase to 30% by 2020.
The first 50kw solar installation was put up in 2012 at Pantyderi and was followed by an additional 50kw the following year.
The opportunity to diversify into renewable energy came as threephase electricity was already on the farm with access to the main line.
And when Western Power decided to upgrade the existing transformer on the farm in 2012, which had been there since 1945, it was too good a chance to miss.
Wyn paid an extra £3000 towards putting a bigger transformer up, which then paved the way for the second installation in 2013. The payback time for the initial investment is 6 to 7 years and the installation is index linked for 20 years.
The Feed-in Tariff (FiT), from which the business benefits, is designed to support small scale renewable installations up to 5MW.
Through FiTs, generators like the Jones family, are paid a tariff for every unit of electricity they produce. Any electricity not used on site can then be sold back into the Grid.
Grid lacks capacity for renewables “We make a saving of about £5000 a year between the two units, with each of them generating approximately £7000 worth of electricity a year.
“The surplus energy we don’t use on the farm is exported back to the national grid. We receive about 14.5p for generating each unit and receive 4.5p per unit for the surplus we feed back into the grid,” explains Wyn.
“This means that we are totally self-sufficient in our electric use on the farm and all of this is produced by the sun. Even though we don’t get as much sunshine here as some other countries, it was well worth the investment,” he added.
However, when wanting to expand the current installation of solar cells, as there was plenty of room on the farm buildings, the family hit a brick wall.
Following some enquiries they were told that there was no more capacity in the grid as the infrastructure was not there to support any extra energy produced.
“We were really keen to expand our solar cell installation but because the infrastructure could not cope with any more energy being fed into the grid it was impossible. The country has a commitment to reduce its carbon footprint and its reliance on fossil fuels, so it was very disappointing for us.
“Renewable energy production is also another way for us farmers to increase our income stream and diversify our businesses.
“We can’t just rely on the price we get paid for our produce anymore, so anything we can do to support ourselves needs to be supported by government and as far as renewables are concerned also the energy companies,” added Wyn.
He added that many more farm businesses would be able to make an investment into renewable energy as a viable form of extra income that was index linked, if only the right support was out there for them.
The Union fully supports the development of appropriate onfarm renewable energy sources, and believes Wales has only scratched the surface in terms of the contribution Welsh farms can make to green energy production.
Government should do more “Despite Wales’ being perfectly suited for some forms of renewable energy generation,the percentage of electricity generated in Wales from renewable stands at just 10% – 5% lower than the UK average, and the lowest of all the UK devolved regions,” said FUW Land Use Policy Officer Bernard Griffiths.
“The decision in 2015 by the UK Government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change, which has responsibility for major national energy projects, to suddenly and drastically reduce support for renewables not only compromises our ability to help mitigate climate change, but has also led directly to farmers and others losing significant sums already invested in unfinished projects,” added Mr Griffiths.
In light of this the FUW called on Welsh Government to carefully consider the outcome of the Welsh Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee’s Smarter Energy Future for Wales inquiry and to seek alternative and innovative ways in which funding can be provided in order to develop on-farm energy production.
In addition, there has to be a stronger commitment from energy companies to invest in improving infrastructure to allow those farms not currently connected to also access the renewable energy market.
The Union further asks of the Welsh Government to identify those barriers to on-farm energy production which fall within its remit and seek to reduce bureaucratic burdens which prevent or add to the financial and time burdens which prevent developments.
Mr Griffiths added that it is vital for the Welsh Government to work with Ofgem and the UK Government to ensure the costs of connection to the National Grid by electricity companies are fair and proportionate and that it encourages and facilitates the use of wood and other carbon-neutral sources of energy while ensuring food production is not compromised.
Aberystwyth: Driver on drugs hits lorry and causes ‘road chaos’
A DRIVER high on drugs caused 15 miles of chaos as he approached Aberystwyth on the A44.
Brian Pitts hit an oncoming lorry and road signs as he drove on the wrong side of the road.
A car passenger filmed him because she was sure a serious accident was about to happen.
Pitts, aged 57, of Delmont Close, Tipton, west Midlands, admitted dangerous driving and driving while unfit through drugs he had taken.
Dean Pulling, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on June 16 last year Pitts had been driving his Rover MGZR, towing a trailer full of wooden fencing posts, towards Aberystwyth from his home.
Richard Brooks followed the car through Llangurig and became so concerned he telephoned the police while his wife Victoria filmed Pitts on her mobile.
The Rover collided with a 13 tonne lorry driven by Andrew Paxton but failed to stop.
Pitts failed to take a roundabout and hit road signs and an embankment but still carried on.
During the 15 miles, said Mr Pulling, oncoming traffic had to swerve off the carriageway to avoid a collision.
Several motorists telephoned the police to report what they were witnessing, he added.
Pitts came to a stop in the middle of the road and another motorist snatched the keys out of the ignition–and noticed that Pitts had been driving with a dog on his lap.
Mr Pulling said police officers could tell there was something wrong with Pitts, but an alcohol text showed he was below the limit.
“He was clearly unfit,” said Mr Pulling, although it was still unclear what drugs he had taken.
Pitts was taken to Aberystwyth police station and then to Bronglais hospital, where he appeared to recover after treatment. But he soon deteriorated and had to be taken back to the hospital.
Pitts developed pneumonia and had to be kept in for nine days.
His barrister, Tom Scapens, said when Pitts had been shown the mobile telephone footage he felt physically sick.
Judge T Mervyn Hughes jailed Pitts for 10 months and banned him from driving for four years.
He told him, “If you had not been stopped I am quite sure you would have caused serious injury if not death.”
Pitts was told to pass an extended driving test before getting his licence back.
Motion to support the reduction of plastic use in Ceredigion approved
In a Full Council meeting on 22 February 2018, the Council unanimously supported a motion to reduce the use of plastic and to support plastic reduction initiatives in Ceredigion.
The motion was proposed by Councillor Mark Strong and was seconded by Councillor Gethin Davies. The motion calls on Ceredigion County Council to support the various ‘Plastic Free’ campaigns throughout the county by reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and to promote the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events.
Councillor Mark Strong said, “I’m delighted that the Council unanimously supported the motion. This is an important step for the Council but we must carry on to reduce plastic use. Everyone has a responsibility to reduce the environmental damage caused by plastic. Carrying out small acts such as buying milk from your local milkman supports the local economy but in turn also supports our environment by using reusable glass bottles.”
The motion also calls on the Council to encourage local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives as well as to support beach cleans and other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics under the “Plastic Free”, Caru Ceredigion, Tidy Towns or any similar initiative.
The motion was amended in the meeting to include the establishment of a Members’ Task and Finish group to support measures to reduce the Council’s use of plastic and to support initiatives in the county that reduce plastic use.
Richards-Keegan cleared of sending underage girl nude pictures
A BOW STREET man has been cleared of charges that he sent an underage girl photographs of his penis.
Paul Robert Morgan Richards-Keegan, aged 21, had denied two allegations of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Richards-Keegan, of Tregerddan, said the only messages he sent her via the internet were in response to approaches from her and did not include photographs of his private parts.
Catherine Richards, prosecuting, had told a jury at Swansea Crown Court that the 14-year-old girl had shared messages with Richards-Keegan via Snapchat.
At one stage police issued to him a child abduction notice, which he signed, instructing him not to contact the girl
In 2016 she told her mother that he was again sending her unwanted photographs of his penis attached to messages.
Richards-Keegan was arrested, and told police he had obeyed the order apart from messages he had sent after being contacted by the complainant.
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