The sort of energy Wales really wants

While reading this post on the excellent Ynni Cymru website, I found out that a poll had been conducted last year about how people thought we should generate electricity in Wales.

The results are summarized here, and the full tables are available in pdf and spreadsheet form.

The first question was a general question about the place of wind energy.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement. "I support the continuing development of wind power as part of a mix of renewable and conventional forms of electricity generation."

Agree ... 64%
Neutral ... 12%
Disagree ... 21%

The second question asked whether people were generally for, neither for nor against, or generally against the development of different types of large-scale energy projects in their areas.

In general, would you be for or against the development of large-scale projects being built in your local council area involving each of the following energy sources?

Coal ... 38% for ... 23% neutral ... 31% against
Shale Gas ... 24% for ... 20% neutral ... 38% against
Gas (excluding shale gas) ... 42% for ... 25% neutral ... 22% against
Nuclear ... 27% for ... 16% neutral ... 48% against
Oil ... 30% for ... 32% neutral ... 27% against

Wind ... 64% for ... 11% neutral ... 20% against
Solar ... 82% for ... 8% neutral ... 5% against
Hydro ... 82% for ... 9% neutral ... 3% against
Bioenergy ... 56% for ... 18% neutral ... 9% against

The percentages in favour of renewable energy (the bottom four) are all remarkably high. It's interesting to note that, for wind energy, the figures for this second question are virtually identical to the figures for the first question. The first question is a general question, but the second is specifically about large scale development in people's own local area. This suggests that there is not much nimbyism in Wales about wind farms: those who are in favour of wind energy do not object to windfarms in their areas; and those who object to windfarms in their areas object to windfarms per se rather than because they are visible from their back yard.

More people in Wales are against nuclear energy than against any other form of power.

The third question asked people to choose from which one source they would prefer to receive the majority of their electricity.

In general, from which ONE of the following energy sources would you choose to receive the majority of your electricity?

Solar ... 26%
Hydro ... 23%
Wind ... 16%
Bioenergy ... 4%

Total for renewables ... 69%

Nuclear ... 10%
Gas (excluding shale gas) ... 4%
Coal ... 3%
Shale gas ... 1%
Oil ... 1%

Total for non-renewables ... 19%

Other ... 1%
Don't know ... 13%

Finally, there was a question on the impact of windfarms on tourism.

Generally speaking, would the presence of a wind farm affect or not affect your decision of visiting that area?

Would be affected ... 26%
Would not be affected ... 66%
Don't know ... 9%

I think results like these don't need much commentary. Overwhelmingly, we want our energy to be produced from renewable sources rather than from fossil fuels or nuclear. And, with our wealth of renewable resources, Wales is easily able to do this.

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OECD Report - Improving Schools in Wales

I had a bit of difficulty finding a link to the actual OECD report into the state of education in Wales, as reported by both the BBC and WalesOnline.

So to make it easier for others who are looking for it, it's here.

     

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The proposed e-smoking ban

I've just read this article by Victoria Winckler on the Bevan Foundation blog about the Welsh Government's proposed ban on smoking e-cigarettes in public places.

     

I agree with what she says and think it's well worth taking five minutes to read.

The real battle is to help people quit smoking tobacco, and e-cigarettes are more likely to be part of the solution than part of the problem.

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A real Jewell

Plaid Cymru is fortunate to have an excellent team of researchers, both in Cardiff and in Westminster. So it wasn't so much of a surprise to find out last night that Delyth Jewell has just won the Overall Researcher of the Year award at Westminster.

The panel of judges, made up of MPs, peers and the National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses which sponsors the event, said that her work on the stalking bill “went far beyond what would be asked of a researcher”.

     

In case anyone is wondering why she's holding two trophies, it's because she also won the award for Crossbench or Other Parties’ Researcher of the Year.

More details here.

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The Daily Wales and Wales Weekly

In the past couple of weeks I've come across two brand new online news sites for Wales which I think deserve wider attention.

The Daily Wales is now a month old, and publishes several articles each day.
 
 

       

 
Wales Weekly appears to have been going since the beginning of February, and publishes a few dozen articles each Thursday.

Wales is a nation with remarkably few home grown media outlets, so these two online sites are very welcome, and I wish them all the best.

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Catalunya's referendum

There was a report about the upcoming referendum on independence for Catalunya on Newyddion 9 this evening.

As it doesn't seem to be on the BBC website, I thought it would be a good idea to put it here for anyone who might have missed it.

     
 

 
Update - 11:51, 21 March 2014

The BBC have now put the report on their website, here, though without the video. That's good, because it means people can use Google or Bing to translate it.

But it does seem strange that there is no English language version of the story. If the BBC go to the trouble and expense of sending out a reporter and film crew to Barcelona, they could produce an English version as well with minimal extra work and at virtually no extra cost. Mind you, the same is true the other way round too.

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Unlocking the lockstep

I'm sure most readers of Syniadau will know this; but for any who don't, the "lockstep" is a provision that devolved income tax rates can only be varied by exactly the same amount in each tax band rather than varied individually.

This is already part of the Scotland Act 2012 (although it has not yet to come into effect) and is something that Westminster wants to impose on Wales too, even though it is against the specific recommendations of the Silk Commission. Part of the reasoning behind this seems to be that Wales should only have the same as Scotland ... which is completely bogus, because the same reasoning would mean that Wales should have the same model of devolution as Scotland and that the same things should be devolved to us as are devolved to them.

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The news today is that the Scottish Labour Party have just published the recommendations of a commission they set up about further devolution to Scotland in the event that Scotland votes No in September. The Executive Summary is available by clicking the image:

     

Interestingly, one of the proposals is that the base from which the devolved portion of income tax is varied should go up from 10p in the pound to 15p in the pound, and that the lockstep should be removed. Except for one small detail ...

The Scotland Act enables the Scottish Parliament to increase or decrease income tax rates in Scotland. In addition to extending this power, we will also introduce new Scottish Progressive Rates of Income Tax, so that the Scottish Parliament can increase the rates of tax in the higher and additional bands. For the first time, the Scottish Parliament will be able to alter both the level of tax and the progressivity of the tax system, but without the risk that a Scottish Government could force tax competition within the UK by cutting only the top rates, to the detriment of public services. Labour in the Scottish Parliament would be able to use these powers if a UK Government did not set fair taxes at these levels.

Yes, under Labour's version of devolution the Scottish Parliament can only increase, but cannot decrease, the higher rates of income tax relative to the basic rate. In other words, it can only enact Labour's policies, not those of any party that might want to cut the higher rates of tax relative to the basic rate. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, for the members of the Commission are all Scottish Labour politicians.

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One other amazing recommendation in the report is that Labour in Scotland are committing themselves to retaining the Barnett Formula:

The Barnett formula should remain as the funding mechanism for public services in Scotland.

As this aspect of the report was trailled beforehand, John Osmond has already written about it in this article on Click on Wales. I agree with him.

If Barnett is retained for Scotland, it will also have to be retained for Wales, and therefore any chance of replacing it with a new funding formula based on need goes out of the window. It means that Scotland will continue to receive some £4bn a year more than it would get under a needs-based formula, and that Wales will continue to receive some £300m a year less than we would get under a needs-based formula. And our shortfall will increase due to the Barnett Squeeze as spending on public services rises.

The reasons for this are quite understandable. They want Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom, and therefore they have little choice but to say that they have no intention of cutting Scotland's block grant. If they said anything else, it would encourage more Scots to vote Yes in September.

The message to Wales is quite clear: we are of no importance whatsoever.

But perhaps there is another message. Just as Labour in Westminster are not going to take a blind bit of notice of anything that Carwyn Jones as so-called leader of Welsh Labour might want, are they going to take a blind bit of notice of what the so-called leader of Scottish Labour, Johann Lamont, might want? After all, this report is by the Scottish Labour Devolution Commission, not Labour in Westminster. Why should Ed Miliband or Ed Balls be bound by it?

Nearly everyone in Westminster believes that the Barnett Formula is way past its useful life and needs to be replaced, so it would be foolish to think that even a Labour government in Westminster wouldn't seize the opportunity to save itself £4bn a year ... if the Scots vote No in the referendum.
 

 
Update - 12:28, 19 March 2014

I've added the video of last night's interview with Johann Lamont on Newsnight Scotland.

     

Gordon Brewer echoes the point I made when he says, regarding Barnett: "Surely even a Labour Government in London would say, 'You must be joking!'"

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