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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 March 2008, 14:57 GMT
Windfarm 'obsession' criticised
Darren Millar AM
Darren Millar said councils were being ignored

Wales is in danger of being smothered "in a blanket of wind turbines," says the Conservatives assembly environment spokesman.

Darren Millar AM told delegates at the Welsh party's conference in Llandudno that the assembly government had a "blind obsession" with wind power.

Mr Millar said the Conservatives were not against wind energy, only large scale windfarms.

He said the current policy was leading to a "massive democratic deficit".

Mr Millar said the decisions of local councillors were being ignored and the views of local communities disregarded.

He said Wales' landscape and tourism industry must not be "sacrificed on the altar of a minister's obsession".

The assembly government last month published plans for Wales taking a lead on tackling climate change over the next 20 years.

Wind turbines (generic)
The assembly government is consulting on renewable energy plans

Environment Minister Jane Davidson said "sensitively but extensively exploited" use of wind, marine and biomass energy could make this happen.

But Mr Millar, the Clwyd West AM, wants more emphasis on marine renewables, which harness the reliable power of the tides and currents.

He said the party was setting up a sustainability forum, including an "arms length" panel of experts from the likes of WWF Cymru and Energy Savings Trust.

Mr Millar also criticised "creeping" fortnightly waste collections, which he said should not be used as an excuse to save councils money.

Meanwhile, the conference also marked the launch of the Welsh Conservative Muslim Forum, which the party said would open it up "to a wider and more diverse membership".

Before the close of the conference on Sunday afternoon, a presentation of crystal was made to Lord Roberts of Conwy, to mark his retirement from frontline politics after 37 years.

Lord Wyn Roberts at a presentation in his honour
There was a tribute to Lord Roberts for his contribution to the party

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan MP called him "our greatest living Welshman".

She said: "His counsel, friendship and perspicacity have been invaluable."

He said he was "totally overwhelmed" by the tributes.

"It has been a privilege to serve the Conservative Party. It is a privilege party members have given me," he said.

"My life has been full of wonderful experiences. I would not have missed it for the world."

Lord Roberts was asked to head a Conservative review of the party's position on devolution on Saturday.

In the last session of the conference, Welsh party chair Caroline Spelman said that building grassroots support was a key objective.

She said that the local elections were being seen as a building block towards gaining more support for the party in Wales.



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