Today, I have issued a press statement, in my capacity of President of the Protection of Rural Wales. It is self explanatory, though I have tried to keep my smouldering anger under control.
"Over the last three years, I have opposed and condemned the Assembly Government's policy of imposing clusters of wind farms on rural Wales. My opposition has been based on the cumulative impact on the landscape of these wind farms, and even worse, the scarring of beautiful Montgomeryshire for ever, by hundreds of monstrous pylons carrying a 400 kv cable marching through our lovely valleys in order to provide connection to the National Grid. Very few people have grasped just how horrendous this 400 kv cable is going to be. In addition, the failure to establish any sort of comprehensive plan is likely to make the already dreadful position even worse. At present, we have total shambles. Scottish Power may well be forced to provide extra 132 kv cables (also causing huge environmental damage, and potential health risk) because of the absence of an overall strategy.
The reason I'm raising this matter today is the linked but separate issue of a proposed new 132 kv cable from Welshpool to serve the new wind farm at Llandinam. Already, there is much public concern in the Kerry and Llandyssil areas, through which this cable will pass. I have discussed the proposals and their implications with Scottish Power, and suggest that everyone who lives between Welshpool and Llandinam attend the presentation which is being held at Dolfor Community Hall on 3rd December between 2.00 and 8.00. I'll be there from 2.00 til 6.15.
It is pointless being critical of Scottish Power, who have little choice in the matter. The company is required by statute to offer a service to Llandinam wind farm. The blame for this position must lie with those politicians who have supported these wind farms. Anyone who has supported the creation of wind farms, which will despoil our lovely home here in Montgomeryshire are, by extension, supporting the massive pylons and cables needed to carry the electricity to the National Grid. Anyone who supported the Llandinam wind farm has also, by extension, supported the 132 kv line that will skirt private properties between Welshpool and the Llandinam site, including many in the Kerry area. Anyone who has supported the general policy of wind farms in Mid Wales has, by extension, supported the construction of a 400 kv cable from some point in the Oswestry/Shrewsbury area, to some point in the Carno area. To pretend otherwise is to be dishonest.
1) In order to minimise impact, its crucial that all wind farm approval and development be suspended until Scottish Power and National Grid have a clear idea of what capacity connection to the grid is needed - rather than the shambolic ad hoc approach which exists at present.
2) No wind farm planning application should be approved without a clear statement of how it is going to be connected to the National Grid.
3) Planning Authorities must require that where these huge cables pass through environmentally important areas, the developer should be required to compensate Scottish Power for the additional costs of burying the cable underground.
Over the last three years whenever I've discussed wind farms in East Montgomeryshire, its usually met with a disinterested shrug because its thought that all the wind farms are to be located in West Montgomeryshire. And my response "What about the b****y cables", has stirred no hackles. Now that reality is kicking in, lets just make sure that we minimise the damage and lay blame where its due.