For so many years we’ve heard all sorts of excuses against Wales becoming an independent nation.
The most common being that Wales somehow, couldn’t afford independence.
This assertion is usually backed up that “undeniable fact” that Wales lacks the resources to be economically viable post-independence.
I believe most people view coal as our only recourse, coal has played a massive role in Welsh life for 150-200 years. No other resource has been seen more important than our coal, so it’s of little surprise that people may think that way.
A common response by independence supporters is that we don’t necessarily need to have natural resources to be economically viable.
And indeed, nations such as Switzerland, Belgium and Singapore as a few examples, have little to no natural resources yet operate quite successfully as independent countries.
But Wales does in fact has many resources available pre and post-independence. It’s a question of if those resources benefit Wales or not?
Despite extensive mining since the 1800’s some experts believe there are billions, potentially trillions of tonnes worth of the black stuff beneath our feet and along the Welsh shorelines.
In 2014 Dr Harry Bradbury, Chief Executive of Five Quarter energy announced a discovery of at least three trillion tonnes of untapped coal reserves off the coast of Wales.
It was suggested there were at least 2billion tonnes in Swansea Bay, and other reserves off the Island of Ynys Môn and Liverpool Bay leading into Wales.
The reports said the extraction of these reserves would be done through a process called gasification where superheated steam and oxygen are pumped underground.
This vaporises coal so it can be burned for power or used to produce Hydrogen.
The production of Hydrogen would be a massive advantage to an independent Wales due to the growing use of Hydrogen fuelled cars. However, hydrogen is extremely difficult to capture.
The coal industry is widely seen as an industry that is dirty and damaging to the environment and to us human beings who have put bodies and lives on the line to extract it.
New technologies are being developed constantly where coal extraction can be done cleanly, efficiently and quickly.
To a lesser extent Welsh gold has been utilised and exploited for profitable gains for centuries, ever since Roman times and even further back than that, some experts suggest.
In 2017 it was reported (here) that Parys Mountain, Ynys Môn had major deposits of gold, silver, copper and lead with potential worth in excess of £200 million.
In the same year Alba Mineral Resources plc, a London based company, had taken a 49% stake in Gold Mines of Wales Limited (GMOW), which owns the Clogau Gold Project situated within the Dolgellau gold belt.
Their focus was on bringing the Clogau Gold Mine in Bontddu back into production, also making a push into regional exploration of the wider project area.
And indeed, in 2019, the same company indicated, in this article that results from testing in previously un-mined areas were coming back showing positive indications of “gold mineralisation”
Gas reserves have been reported as being significant in the former south Wales coalfield areas.
This has been known for decades when we consider the accidents that have occurred over the years that have been down to explosions due to the ignition of natural gasses within the coal seams.
Reported in 2008, figures from the Department of Trade and Industry suggested there were 13 trillion cubic feet of coalbed methane gas in South Wales.
A report by Australian company, Eden Energy but undertaken by US consultants RPS Group in 2011, found massive Shale gas reserves up to 34 trillion cubic feet, of which 12.8 trillion cubic feet is classified as recoverable.
Shale gas extraction more commonly known as fracking, is controversial as it’s been linked with the pollution of drinking water in the U.S.
Questions on the environmental impact surrounding fracking must be answered before tapping into this recourse. Opponents suggest widespread damage and seismic activity could be caused by the process.
However, if the technology is refined to a point where environmental impact is significantly reduced or even eliminated altogether, then Wales should seriously reconsider its position on Shale gas extraction.
Alternatively, gas from sewage and landfill is being extracted already, although landfill gas is in decline as more people are recycling which means less waste going to landfill.
However, there is still a large percentage of waste from industrial and business activity that is being exploited.
Gas collected from sewage and landfill is mainly put into the UK electricity grid, but the potential remains to collect biomethane gas as a growing source of revenue.
Renewables harness the natural elements such as wind, sun and water to produce energy and is a growing sector in Wales. It has enormous potential to transform Wales’ fortunes and environment for the better
Wind farms are by far the most prolific which includes both inshore and offshore facilities. The largest offshore wind farm is Gwynt y Môr, off the coast of north Wales that has 160 turbines.
The largest inshore wind farm is Pen y Cymoedd which is located between Neath and Aberdare in south Wales with 76 turbines.
Carno Wind Farm, which has 68 turbines, has Wales’ highest power production capacity.
Solar energy on the other hand is not as prolific. Although, since 2017 610,000 solar panels have been constructed on several locations throughout Wales, with more planned in future.
What about the Water?
Water in Wales has been mooted as liquid gold of the future and a viable source of revenue.
Annual Welsh average rainfall is 335.8mm, Wales is the wettest country in the UK which is collected in 91 reservoirs, according to Dŵr Cymru Welsh Waters website (here)
133 billion litres per year are pumped from the Elan Valley reservoirs in Powys to supply Severn Trent customers as part of a deal between the two firms.
In total, the energy company United Utilities, the second of two companies drawing water from Wales – the other Severn Trent – can take 616 million litres from the River Dee daily, with 566 million litres allowed to be removed from a point on the river in Chester.
It’s scandalous that Wales doesn’t have control over its water.
Water syphoned off to England would generate a profitable return if it were in our power to be in control to take advantage of this relatively untapped Welsh recourse.
There are many other means in which to generate power for our own use or for transport beyond the conventional fossil fuels and mainstream renewables.
These include Anaerobic Digestion, Hydroelectric, Tidal, Biomass, Geothermal, and hot Hydrogen fusion.
These alternative methods offer other ways in which to transition from fossil fuel-based energy reliance.
The Labour Welsh government committed to achieving 70% energy generation via renewable sources by 2030 in 2017 (here). Currently energy via renewables accounts for 48% of total annual electricity production.
Wales produces twice as much electricity than used and is a net exporter of electricity to England, Ireland, and the wider European network. According to this article, it’s planned that Wales should reach 100% renewable power generation by 2035.
No Hidden Agendas
But this article isn’t about promoting renewables or promoting some hidden environmentalist agenda.
I’ve never considered myself an environmentalist of any kind, but I understand we humans should look after our environment more carefully than we have been.
Although whether we use renewables, fossil fuels or a combination of both is somewhat a moot point if the potential profits and or benefits of our labour and expenditure is syphoned off to our neighbouring nation, or elsewhere for that matter.
Setting the environmental aspect aside for a moment, what is the point in generating so much more energy than what we’re going to use ourselves?
Consider the fact we are spending billions on new technology to generate more energy than we really need should tell us all our efforts are not for our benefit.
Only independence can remedy this situation. A situation where Wales is being taken to the cleaners.
Our resources are being plundered yet we’re baring the weight of provision with no recompense.
The quest for renewable energy is the new coal for Wales, let’s not allow it or Wales be exploited in the same way.
We have the resources and the ability to utilise them. We have the resources to be independent, what we don’t have is the control over them. Independence would remedy that, full stop.
I’m not prepared to wait 15-20 years for devolution to give us control of what is rightfully ours to control in the first place.
And let’s not forget our best and most natural resource… the people of Wales. We are our nation’s biggest resource and our biggest asset.
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My name is Lee Felton, I’m one of the editors on Ein GWALD’s News Portal, National Secretary and Graphics Officer. I have a Valley’s working class background and I’m not afraid to say what I think. If i’m wrong, I’m wrong, and I’ll be the first to put my hand up.