A dominating issue in Montgomeryshire over the last few years has been proposals to transform the beautiful landscape of the old 'County' into one dominated by wind farms and associated transmission infrastructure. It has created much social division, splitting communities and families. I have been opposed to the proposal since it was first given substance in 2005 by the publication of Welsh Gov't planning guidance on renewable energy, popularly known as TAN8. This issue has potential to cause huge environmental and social damage to mid Wales as well as inflict massive financial burdens on the local council.
But thus post is about my personal involvement in the onshore wind issue in mid Wales, rather than the issue itself. Normally, I take not the slightest notice when misguided individuals make untrue statements about 'personal stuff' (deliberate or otherwise). None of their business. But on this issue its probably sensible to put things on public record.
Until 2005, I was generally unconcerned about the building of wind farms in mid Wales - though never convinced they would make much impact on our energy needs. It was the 2005 new TAN8 planning guidance which shocked me into outright opposition. The implications of the Welsh Gov't's intentions were horrific - though the wider public did not fully grasp what it all meant 'on the ground' until 2009/10. It was the sheer scale of what was proposed that made me an implacable opponent. Montgomeryshire probably already has more turbines than any other county in England or Wales. The Mid Wales Connection will mean another 500/600 turbines plus 100 miles of cable, 30 miles of which will be carried down one of our narrow valleys on 150' high steel towers to connect with the Grid in Shropshire.
Sometime in 2005/06, the representative of a Spanish energy company knocked on my door, totally unsolicited, asking me whether I would be interested in locating a wind farm on land owned by my family near the village of Llanerfyl. Gamesa seemed a very reputable company, and I learned much about the industry from Mr Partridge, who worked for them. But the proposed site, which covered land owned by 5 different families was one of great prominence and beauty. I could not have prevented the other 4 from going ahead, but I had no intention of joining in, even if it was an issue the family would decide on. I decided to invite the BBC along to highlight the divisions that communities faced - extra income against landscape damage. I will never forget taking the BBC film crew up the mountain, through driving rain and muddy tracks and in a thundering gale. Still laugh when I think about it. Anyway, Gamesa decided to proceed and offered the landowners a 5 yr exclusivity contract - money for nothing! Despite the family involvement, I wanted no part of it, and declined whatever money would have been on offer. Must admit I would have preferred this to have remained a private matter. Its bad for the reputation of a hill sheep farmer to be known to have refused money! I do not know what the other farmers involved did. That's their business. Also, despite my decision to take no part, I decided that I should declare an interest when opposing wind farms in the National Assembly. Not sure there was actually reason to, but its always best to be open. Some people don't understand the principles behind declaration of interests, and made incorrect assumptions. I continued to so declare until it became clear the scheme had no chance of going ahead, and that there was no 'opportunity' of benefit - even though I had no intention of taking it!. As far as I know, Coedtalog Mountain is safe from turbines for evermore.