Day 4 : 24th April,2007


The sky was bright though temperatures were still low for me. It took us about 30 minutes to drive to school. I had gotten to grips with the school’s daily routine and knew what followed at each moment. The one task I was tasked to do was a presentation to a house in the assembly.

Assembly (1st House)

The assembly was organized and the proceedings commenced at about 08:50 hours. Pupils opened with a song led by Mrs. Yaminelly on a piano. My presentation followed thereafter. I briefly discussed location, position, life economy, tradition and culture of Zambia. On these aspects I reminded pupils about the value of culture and how we in Zambia value our tradition and culture as a beacon of our identity. Culture I explained helps to know where people are coming from, where they are and where they are going. It was such a fulfilling meeting.

The major event of the day was our visit to the Ffynnon Oer Wind Farm with a group of 13 year 11s.

Visit to the Ffynnon Oer Wind Farm

Ffynnon Oer Wind Farm is located on rough grazing upland between Resolven and Croeserw in the County Borough of Neath Port Talbot. Npower Renewables owns the wind turbines on Ffynnon Oer Wind Farm. It has 16 wind turbines each with a capacity of 2MW.The total output is 32 MW for the 16 turbines on the farm. On average the project supplies power to 17000 homes. This implies that Carbon dioxide emissions saved is about 67000 tonnes per year; this is according to the lady who took us on this tour. The construction of the turbines on the farm took1yera from May-June 2005 to May-June, 2006.

Local Environment at the Farm

There is a habitat management plan on the site. The aim is to increase biodiversity value by habitat enhancement and habitat creation. The objectives include restoring the water logged conditions the blanket bog, encourage the establishment of a more tussocky sward with more abundant ericaceous species within the higher ground on site and increasing the availability of wet areas and potential nesting sites for wetland birds as well as increasing the availability of intact sections of dry stone walls as shelter habitat for nesting birds and other wildlife.

Operation of a Wind Turbine

Airflows are used to run the wind turbines. The power out put of a turbine is a function of the cube of the wind speed, so as the wind increases, power output increases dramatically. The Ffynnon Oer Is an example of an off-shore and high altitude site where winds from the sea are strong and constant .Wind power is renewable and produces no greenhouse gases during operation, such as carbon dioxide and methane. However, wind turbines are said to be killing bats and birds and should not be located where impacts are great. This impact has not been reported at the site.

Picture of the turbines


Some people do not like the aesthetics of large wind turbine installations near their homes. This is the same case according to our tour guide.

Land Area Required

Another environmental issue, particularly with wind turbines, is the large amount of land required to harvest energy, which would be used for other purposes or left as undeveloped land.

Environmental and Social Considerations

Whereas wind energy does not produce pollution directly, the materials, and construction equipment used to create the wind turbines may generate waste and pollution may occur. Older wind turbines can be hazardous to flying birds.

The site where these turbines are built looked suitable and the company seems to have done a commendable job at least on first sight. When question time came the pupils asked very good questions and these required well thought answers.
The asked about what factors are considered in the location of the wind turbines and what benefits are there for the local communities. The responses are summarized as follows:

Factors for Locating Wind Turbines

-Open space
-Political decision
-habitat i.e. vegetation, wildlife

Socio-Economic Benefits

-Electricity supply
-Farmers are paid for the land on which turbines are located
-Npower Renewables provides some funds for the surrounding communities

Peoples’ Arguments against Wind farms

-Turbines look ugly
-Grey colour is not good
-Turbines cause noise pollution
-Reduce value of property

The Facts We Found On Site As Regards Environmental Impacts

The Ffynnon Oer Wind farm, installed on agricultural land, has very low environmental impacts:

-It occupies less land area per Kwh of electricity generated and is compatible with grazing.

-No emissions or pollution by its operations were seen. Save for the slight noise caused by a ripped blade.
-The wind turbines are almost silent and rotate so slowly that they are rarely a hazard to birds.
-House keeping inside the turbine we entered was very excellent.
-Grazing land for sheep is abundant.
-Vegetation cover around the area is all grass but has held the soil together reducing the chances of soil erosion.
-No housing units within a radius of 2km

Sincerely speaking the lady from Npower renewables was very articulate on the many environmental issues brought out by the pupils. However, on some aspects she did not really come out explicitly as she begun to protect company interests.

Oh! Tom had earlier on explained to me that the local Council elections wee due month end of April. Parties, which included Labour , Conservatives and others, were campaigning touching on various issues. I am not a politician but I find it amazing how politicians want to politicize everything they think will help them garner massive support from electorates. You must be wondering what I am driving at. Well I came across some campaign material of an independent candidate who to me is an anti-wind turbine.

His literature goes as follows:

“Time-out on turbines!!Your house price could HALVE if a wind farm is built nearby-states a university report (He quotes from a university report).It is not wind farms Or nuclear”

This really hit me. I had just visited the wind farm and seen facts on the ground. I had been thinking to myself saying surely this is some geographical phenomenon and from this countries like Zambia would benefit a lot. Apart from that I thought this was an environmentally friendly project. There were no houses around and no environmental hazards anywhere around. Maybe there is something I did not see at Ffynnon Oer Wind Farm which the politician saw especially at other wind farms in Wales.

The candidate’s concerns include among others:

-the price of houses near wind farms can be up to 50% lower than those 4miles away.
-turbine noise can affect the health of people living over 2km away.
-Can not rely on wind farms because wind might not blow.
-Hikers, bikers and other out door pursuits enthusiasts will be put off by wind farms.
-huge turbines threaten the life and habitat of wildlife including birds.

These concerns really stirred a debate within me especially that no advantages or positive contributions were mentioned which these turbines give to the socio-economic life of the people in the surrounding communities and Wales as a whole.

Zambia would benefit a lot from this technology I must say. There is a strong desire in Zambia to develop energy efficient technologies which include wind turbines. I do not know what other geographers think about this Wind Farm question. I am sure Tom and other geographers will add their thoughts to this. Is the politician right? Would you also equate wind turbines to nuclear??

By the way as we returned home down hill Tom and I saw another long arm of multinational companies in Anglo-American. The company is involved in mining.


The other important item Tom talked about concerning multinationals is the effect TESCO has had on agriculture. He said farm products supplied from local farms are sold very cheaply due to the imports sold in TESCO outlets. As a result to keep the farmers going their produce are subsidized. Most of the Supermarkets that dealt in local farm products have closed down due to fierce competition from TESCO. There are some out of town outlets which are being opened to encourage local farmers to produce more and avail opportunities to local residents to buy local produce.

We then returned to school at about 13:45 hours. After a meal we headed to Pencoed Junior School where we met Steve Lambert with whom we discussed the possible link between his school and Chibwe Basic School in Zambia. I am happy with the out come of the meeting because the school accepted the idea of the partnership. In principle the two schools were right away twinned. I handed over papers from Chibwe Basic School to Steve who expressed happiness about it.

Earlier I had an opportunity to talk to Year 6 pupils who asked a lot of questions about Zambia. It was amazing to learn that pupils did not know much about Zambia and Africa as whole. Even the little they know lacks detail and hence their perception about Zambia is like: Zambia is full of disease, poverty etc. Answering all the questions really was of great benefit to them. Interestingly, most of them want to know more about Zambia. The partnership between the two junior schools will definitely help them have different perceptions about the two countries.

Visit to Cardiff Bay

The visit to Cardiff Bay added another dimension to the activities of the day. The structures around the bay are a mesh of old and new architecture. Most of the buildings have undergone massive transformation. Tom explained to me that Cardiff Bay was very important to the whole of the UK. Ships came from all parts of the world and docked there. Pollution of the water was massive and aquatic life was killed. Most of the important international banks operated in Cardiff. There were huge storage facilities and a busy railway network which was used to transport coal and other mineral products from around Wales.


Our visit to Cardiff Bay ended with a meal in an Italian Restaurant where we had vegetarian pizza and juice. The service was excellent. This was a small glimpse of the multiracial investments around Cardiff. There are French, Germans and other Europeans.


3 Responses to “Day 4 : 24th April,2007”

  1. Mr Biebrach Says:

    Wind energy is a controversial issue throughout the UK, but in the Bridgend area in particular it is increasingly becoming a political ‘hot potato’. There are a number on on-shore windfarms like the one we visited and the Taff Ely site above Pencoed as well as a planned off-shore site near Porthcawl (Scarweather Sands). We try to allow our students to study differing viewpoints on wind energy rather than just listening to the loudest voice. The politician campaigning on a single issue of ‘stopping the windfarms’ is a case in point. We have an obligation, I believe to present both sides then allow the students to make up their own minds. I hope our students become ‘critical thinkers’ who can detect bias in viewpoints and think geographically about controversial issues.

    Your reports give a fascinating insight into both your visit and what we take for granted in Wales.

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