Friday, February 29, 2008

Blackballed.

Went to a presentation of a proposal for a new wind farm near the rural village of Trefeglwys, in upland Montgomeryshire tonight. 150-200 people turned up at the Village Hall, almost all against the proposal. I had a particular interest, because the developer had 'blackballed' me as a suitable person to be Chair of the meeting. The Community Council of Trefeglwys had asked me to chair this public meeting, but the company refused to accept their wishes because of my position as President of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. Even though I had given an assurance that I would chair in a totally impartial way.

This bizarre 'blackballing' took an amusing turn this week. The company had decided that it wanted the local MP, Lembit Opik to chair the meeting. At the last minute, he pulled out because he wanted to appear on Any Questions. The Trefeglwys Council, or at least some of the councillors were not impressed - and went public. Front Page of the local daily newspaper, the Shropshire Star and a prominent report in the universally read, Montgomeryshire County Times. The MP went to a Council meeting last night to apologise. Councillors told me that they have never seen him looking so humble. He's promised to pay for a local referendum to assess public opinion. And a letter of abject apology was left on every seat in the hall. And I'm told he's promised to meet everyone present. Wow. He really must be worried. There's a simple rule. If you promise to attend a meeting, it is just not acceptable to do something else you judge more important instead, at least, not without causing offence.

Anyway, I asked a series of questions that demonstrated to the developers that I don't have horns growing out of my head. As it happens, a good friend of mine, Peter English chaired the meeting in splendid fashion. The planning application, which is for 11 turbines will be submitted in the next 6 weeks.

5 comments:

Frank H Little said...

Liberal Democrats have no power over the BBC's choice of panellists for "Question Time" or "Any Questions?". There is a fair chance that if Lembit had turned down the invitation for Westcliff, his seat could have gone to a non-LibDem.

He did at least speak about the meeting he was missing (catch the repeat at 13:10 today, or on one of BBC Radio's computer facilities).

Anonymous said...

supporting the proposals then glyn?
the thing with the turbines that i don't understand is that they can easily be removed and not a trace left in a matter of weeks, should we so wish. so why such hatred from so many.
i find the vast swathes of un natural forestry commission pines far less appealing and they take years for the land to recover.

Anonymous said...

Lembit Opik will always choose to do something that he perceives of as bringing him national publicity, as opposed to minor local matters. This sort of behaviour is totally in keeping with the way he's always treated the people of Mid Wales. It's not acceptable and it's one of the reasons he's going to loose his seat. Funny how he's always available to do infra dig things like the forthcoming Mr&Mrs on ITV, or play the mouth organ on a dreadful Z-list Channel 5 programme.........

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

In re Lembit Öpik. "Started then?"

Glyn Davies said...

Frank - That's as may be. What I know is that when I've promised to be somewhere, I will not abandon it for a better offer. It seems that many people locally did not respond quite as charitably as you.

I'm not surprised he mentioned the meeting. He realises that his decision to put his media appearance before his local committment has not gone down at all well.

anon - I do not believe that the energy produced by wind farms is sufficient to justify the damage that they do to the landscape. However, I do realise that the Government is determined to go ahead with some - and it is important that they are located i the least damaging locations. So I do see value in consideration of the various proposals - which is why I congratulated the Council for arranging the meeting, and the energy company for being willing to present its proposals. What I am particularly opposed to is that there is no consideration of 'cumulative impact' in the planning considerations. I also found the great swathes of coniferous forestry to be a blight on rural Wales.

anon 2 - thats what several people were saying to me at the meeting