Friday, December 04, 2015

Hilary Benn speech

It would take me quite a long time to write a blog post about the decision to extend UKs involvement in the coalition of nations who are coming together to crush the evil that is Daesh. And there seemed not much point when I could just post the speech made by Hilary Benn MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary. He said much what I'd like to gave said. Admittedly, he spoke with oratorical flourishes that I would not have risen to. And I did not include the initial party political knockabout. But generally, I agreed with the content. Here it is;

 "Now Mr Speaker, we have had an intense and impassioned debate and rightly so, given the clear and present threat from Daesh, the gravity of the decision that rests upon the shoulders and the conscience of every single one of us and the lives we hold in our hands tonight. And whatever decision we reach, I hope we will treat one another with respect.

The question which confronts us in a very, very complex conflict is at its heart very simple. What should we do with others to confront this threat to our citizens, our nation, other nations and the people who suffer under the yoke, the cruel yoke, of Daesh? The carnage in Paris brought home to us the clear and present danger we face from them. It could have just as easily been London, or Glasgow, or Leeds or Birmingham and it could still be. And I believe that we have a moral and a practical duty to extend the action we are already taking in Iraq to Syria. And I am also clear, and I say this to my colleagues, that the conditions set out in the emergency resolution passed at the Labour party conference in September have been met.

We now have a clear and unambiguous UN Security Council Resolution 2249, paragraph 5 of which specifically calls on member states to take all necessary measures to redouble and co-ordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Daesh, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria.

So the United Nations is asking us to do something. It is asking us to do something now. It is asking us to act in Syria as well as in Iraq. And it was a Labour government that helped to found the United Nations at the end of the Second World War. And why did we do so? Because we wanted the nations of the world, working together, to deal with threats to international peace and security – and Daesh is unquestionably that.

So given that the United Nations has passed this resolution, given that such action would be lawful under Article 51 of the UN Charter – because every state has the right to defend itself – why would we not uphold the settled will of the United Nations, particularly when there is such support from within the region including from Iraq. We are part of a coalition of over 60 countries, standing together shoulder-to-shoulder to oppose their ideology and their brutality.

Now Mr Speaker, all of us understand the importance of bringing an end to the Syrian civil war and there is now some progress on a peace plan because of the Vienna talks. They are the best hope we have of achieving a cease-fire. That would bring an end to Assad’s bombing, leading to a transitional government and elections. And why is that vital? Both because it will help in the defeat of Daesh, and because it would enable millions of Syrians, who have been forced to flee, to do what every refugee dreams of: they just want to be able to go home.

Now Mr Speaker, no-one in this debate doubts the deadly serious threat we face from Daesh and what they do, although sometimes we find it hard to live with the reality. We know that in June four gay men were thrown off the fifth storey of a building in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor. We know that in August the 82-year-old guardian of the antiquities of Palmyra, Professor Khaled al-Assad, was beheaded, and his headless body was hung from a traffic light. And we know that in recent weeks there has been the discovery of mass graves in Sinjar, one said to contain the bodies of older Yazidi women murdered by Daesh because they were judged too old to be sold for sex.

We know they have killed 30 British tourists in Tunisia, 224 Russian holidaymakers on a plane, 178 people in suicide bombings in Beirut, Ankara and Suruc. 130 people in Paris including those young people in the Bataclan whom Daesh – in trying to justify their bloody slaughter – called ‘apostates engaged in prostitution and vice’. If it had happened here, they could have been our children. And we know that they are plotting more attacks.

So the question for each of us – and for our national security – is this: given that we know what they are doing, can we really stand aside and refuse to act fully in our self-defence against those who are planning these attacks? Can we really leave to others the responsibility for defending our national security when it is our responsibility? And if we do not act, what message would that send about our solidarity with those countries that have suffered so much – including Iraq and our ally, France.
Now, France wants us to stand with them and President Hollande – the leader of our sister socialist party – has asked for our assistance and help. And as we are undertaking airstrikes in Iraq where Daesh’s hold has been reduced and we are already doing everything but engage in airstrikes in Syria – should we not play our full part?

It has been argued in the debate that airstrikes achieve nothing. Not so. Look at how Daesh’s forward march has been halted in Iraq. The House will remember that, 14 months ago, people were saying: ‘they are almost at the gates of Baghdad’. And that is why we voted to respond to the Iraqi government’s request for help to defeat them. Look at how their military capacity and their freedom of movement has been put under pressure. Ask the Kurds about Sinjar and Kobani. Now of course, air strikes alone will not defeat Daesh – but they make a difference. Because they are giving them a hard time – and it is making it more difficult for them to expand their territory.

Now, I share the concerns that have been expressed this evening about potential civilian casualties. However, unlike Daesh, none of us today act with the intent to harm civilians. Rather, we act to protect civilians from Daesh – who target innocent people.

Now on the subject of ground troops to defeat Daesh, there’s been much debate about the figure of 70,000 and the government must, I think, better explain that. But we know that most of them are currently engaged in fighting President Assad. But I’ll tell you what else we know, is whatever the number – 70,000, 40,000, 80,000 – the current size of the opposition forces mean the longer we leave taking action, the longer Daesh will have to decrease that number. And so to suggest, Mr Speaker, that airstrikes should not take place until the Syrian civil war has come to an end is, I think, to miss the urgency of the terrorist threat that Daesh poses to us and others, and I think misunderstands the nature and objectives of the extension to airstrikes that is being proposed. And of course we should take action. It is not a contradiction between the two to cut off Daesh’s support in the form of money and fighters and weapons, and of course we should give humanitarian aid, and of course we should offer shelter to more refugees including in this country and yes we should commit to play our full part in helping to rebuild Syria when the war is over.

Now I accept that there are legitimate arguments, and we have heard them in the debate, for not taking this form of action now. And it is also clear that many members have wrestled, and who knows, in the time that is left, may still be wrestling, with what the right thing to do is. But I say the threat is now, and there are rarely, if ever, perfect circumstances in which to deploy military forces. Now we heard very powerful testimony from the honorable member for Eddisbury earlier when she quoted that passage, and I just want to read what Karwan Jamal Tahir, the Kurdistan regional government high representative in London, said last week and I quote: ‘Last June, Daesh captured one third of Iraq over night and a few months later attacked the Kurdistan region. Swift airstrikes by Britain, America and France, and the actions of our own Peshmerga, saved us. We now have a border of 650 miles with Daesh. We’ve pushed them back, and recently captured Sinjar. Again, Western airstrikes were vital. But the old border between Iraq and Syria does not exist. Daesh fighters come and go across this fictional boundary.’ And that is the argument Mr Speaker, for treating the two countries as one, if we are serious about defeating Daesh.

Now Mr Speaker, I hope the house will bear with me if I direct my closing remarks to my Labour friends and colleagues on this side of the House. As a party we have always been defined by our internationalism. We believe we have a responsibility one to another. We never have – and we never should – walk by on the other side of the road.

And we are here faced by fascists. Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us in this chamber tonight, and all of the people that we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt. And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated. And it is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists and trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It’s why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice. And my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria. And that is why I ask my colleagues to vote for the motion tonight."

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Action by UK forces against Da'esh in Syria

Here is the column I wrote for Powys County Times this week. 

write this column after listening to the Prime Minister outline his reasons for believing it right that UK armed forces, which are already operating successfully in Iraq, should extend activities across the border into Syria, alongside the armed forces of France, United States, Turkey and Russia against the terrorist group, Da'esh. Deciding finally to support the Prime Minister was difficult. Like all MPs, I considered the position very carefully. I know there can be no certainty about the future in this complex unstable theatre of war. My decision was reached with a heavy heart and much uncertainty.

Committing our armed forces to military action is an issue that transcends party politics. It's an even more difficult decision when there are rational, persuasive, conflicting arguments as there are in this case. It is not possible to be certain about the outcome of our actions, no matter what we do. For most MPs it will come down to 'on balance' opinions. We do know that the Prime Minister would not have called a vote without significant cross party support. After much consideration, many Labour MPs decided to support the Prime Minister, as did the Liberal Democrat and DUP MPs. On balance, I believe they are right to do so.

What Britain faces is a terrorist group, Da'esh, committed to launching terrorist attacks on innocent people going about their normal lives. This murderous ideology has spawned the most brutal of attacks across the world. All of us have been shocked by attacks in Tunisia and Paris, as well as in the Middle East. In 2015, our security forces tell us that several terrorist plots have been frustrated in the UK. Britain is deemed to have been the highest category target for many years. We are already at war with Da'esh in Iraq. The Paris terrorist atrocity could very easily have been in London, Birmingham, Cardiff or Edinburgh. We are under attack and it's only the skill and vigilance of our security forces that keep us safe. 

Many constituents have contacted me opposed to British involvement. Their opposition is based on not being involved in the war against Da'esh, which logically means withdrawal from the military action in Iraq. Other constituents have contacted me in support of military action against Da'esh. However, almost all believe Da'esh should be challenged in some way and defeated.  This does raise a question of morality. The UK is a target, and want the Da'esh threat removed. Can it possibly it be right to 'outsource' action to our friends in France, US and Turkey? If we think it is right to act militarily against Da'esh, Britain cannot leave the responsibility to others. Presidents Obama and Hollande want our help. They need our help. This is the aspect of the debate which most influences me.

Inevitably there are serious uncertainties. It is accepted that Da'esh can only be defeated if there are armed forces on the ground. These cannot be forces from non-Muslim countries, because that would act as recruitment to Muslims becoming radicalised. It's also the case that while there are 70,000 potential recruits for a Syrian-based defence force, Syrian fighters against Da'esh are scattered throughout Syria and have differing ethnic backgrounds and differing objectives. Assembling effective locally based ground forces will be difficult. It's also vital and expensive to put in place restructuring and humanitarian programmes. Inevitably, there is concern about how intervention will end. But when the division bells rings, MPs have to decide. There is no hiding place. After much consideration, I decided to support the Prime Minister.

Reflections on Paris Terrorism Attack

Here is the column I wrote for Oswestry and Border Chronicle two weeks ago. Did not have time to update my blog until now. 

As writing my column this week, I can only reflect on the terrible events of the last few days in Paris. Readers of the Chronicle will share my overwhelming sense of shock and horror at the scale and brutality of the terrorist attacks. Over 130 innocent people, out in the city for an evening's enjoyment, murdered by cold blooded killers. The people of Britain have shown huge sympathy for France as she responds to the terrible events that have taken place.
These terrorist attacks in Paris have brought home to us in the UK how instability in the Middle East has an impact on our safety at home. It's but a few years since we had a bomb outrage in London where many innocent people were killed as travelling on public transport in the city. And we are told there have been several terrorism plots targeting the UK which have been frustrated by our security forces over the last year. What has happened in Paris, and recently in Tunisia reminds us of the threats and that first duty of any Government is to protect the people from outside attack.

Inevitably, there will now be debate about how we respond to these threats. I will touch on two issues which MPs will be deciding very shortly. Firstly will be the capability we allow our security forces to access communications data. There is a proper concern that it's not 'British' to allow unnecessary surveillance, but surely it's no longer safe to allow the criminals and terrorists a free hand to operate by modern communication methods which shackling those charged with the responsibility to defend and protect us. Montgomeryshire has an interest in this debate. The most high profile campaign for more effective surveillance is Lord Carlile, my former neighbour and presseccor as the local MP. Despite being instinctively 'libertarian' I am with Alex on this.

The second important decision before MPs is whether we should become more engaged with cutting off the poison of terrorism at source. Much of the world will come together to destroy Daesh, an evil force which refers to itself as an ‘Islamic State’. It's not a 'State', and I will not refer to it as such. At present the Prime Minister is considering asking MPs to consider joining the air attacks on Daesh forces in Syria, where it has its base. I expect him to come to the House of Commons before Christmas asking MPs to join other countries in acting to rid the world of the evil we witnessed in Paris over the last few days. Even though it's no more than an extention of current military action, across a line in the sand, that Daesh does not recognise, it will be an important debate.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Importance of S4C to the UK

I have always and will always live in Wales. Wales has much in common with England - a prosperous South East, large parts recovering from an industrial past, and largely overlooked rural areas. But Wales has one unique USP. We have the Welsh Language (Yr Iaith Cymraeg), the Language of Heaven. It is special. I'm not sure that our friends in England, Scotland and N Ireland fully get that. I once won the bardic chair at the Montgomeryshire YFC Eisteddfod (where English Language entries were allowed) with a treatise on the future of the the Welsh Language. I shared a widespread view at the time that it was doomed to continuous decline, and eventual demise as a spoken language. I was mistaken. The establishment of S4C in 1980, along with an early 190s Education Act has made the difference.
S4C was born to the Conservative Govt led by Margaret Thatcher. It was a quite difficult birth. As important as the establishment of the Channel was, the very generous budget agreed was equally important - linked to an inflation-based formula which lasted until the link was broken by the Public Bodies Act 2011. In 2010 the incoming Coalition Govt was faced with the challenge of establishing control over the calamitous state of the nation's public finances. I represented my party at committee stage of the Bill, and will never forget the experience - 1100 emails and protestors shouting at me. In my view, there was no alternative, as the Prime Minister who oversaw creation of S4C may well have observed! 
Let's talk money. S4C has three main funding streams beyond that which it raises in revenue. Much the largest contribution comes via the BBC from the Licence Fee - about £80million per annum. This is supposed to come without editorial strings. The second largest funding stream is also from the BBC, in the form of  broadcast content to the value of around £20 million per annum. None of this is supposed to impact on S4C's independence! 
The third income stream (and the point of this post) is the £6.7 million per annum coming from the Department of Media, Culture and Sport. I do and will continue to plead that this is not reduced. I accept that DCMS is likely to face very difficult choices, as the Chancellor finalises his Autumn Spending Review to be announced later this month. Every budget head will have it's champions. But a reduction in the DCMS contribution would be very unwise penny pinching.
Let's consider the reasons why. Breaking S4C's inflation linked funding in the Public Bodies Act 2011 was a big deal. So big that the Act specifically states that S4C would continue to receive "sufficient finance" to deliver a Welsh Language channel. A bit woolly - but hopefully more than a temporary 'sop' to persuade me and others to vote for it. Words in acts should mean something.
Another reason is the 'Independence' of S4C. To have the BBC providing all of the funding for S4C would seriously question how independence could be maintained. He who pays the piper etc...... And the BBC is far too dominant in Welsh media already.
Let me add a third reason. If DCMS reduces it's already relatively minor contribution further, the case for devolution of broadcasting could well become unchallengeable. I do not think many in the political or broadcasting world support that. And I should add that I am hugely proud that I learned to speak Welsh. Thousands of young people are speaking Welsh as their first language with pride. S4C has played a big part in the renaissance of Welsh. Let's not return to the 'dark days'
When the debate about establishing S4C was raging in the Conservative Party in 1979/80, the wise Willy Whitelaw advised Mrs Thatcher to look on it as an "investment in social harmony". So has proved. Let this investment continue.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Another Wales Bill - early thoughts.

A draft Wales Bill has been published. They're like trains on the underground. One fades from view around Constitution Corner. Then another one comes along. Constitutional matters are very much a minority interest, but they do interest me. Makes me bit of a geek I suppose. But I am fortunate that we have had so many of these Wales Bills coming along!! 

So what is this Bill about. Not that much actually. Most significant change is move from a 'conferred powers' model of devolution to a 'reserved powers' model. At present, all matters devolved are listed with all else reserved to the UK Govt. In future, everything is devolved except those matters listed as reserved. Ever since talking this issue through with an Assembly official, Adrian Crompton (around yr 2000) I've backed this change. Blame Adrian, a top man. However, I always thought this change would be difficult. Inevitably, the list of 'reserved powers' will be extensive. Clarity is essential. Everything not intended to be devolved must be listed to limit uncertainty and money flowing into the rapacious pockets of barristers in the Supreme Court. The problem to be covered is that Welsh Gov't's power to pass laws could have an effect on England. Such laws will require 'Crown consent'. The Welsh First Minister seems not to like this, and revers to this process as an "English veto". He refers to the Wales Bill as 'an old banger'. Seems not very keen on it.

Another issue of dispute is the need to establish a Welsh legal jurisdiction. Understanding this is a nightmare for anyone not well versed in law. There is now being created a body of Welsh law, which in theory should operate within a Welsh jurisdiction. But is it really worthwhile creating such an entity, alongside an England and Wales jurisdiction for what will be a very small body of law for many years to come. Surely legal brains will find a way through this one! Or not!!

The Bill extends power over more matters to Wales - like how to run itself (number of Assembly Members, votes at 16, calling itself a parliament). It also transfers power over energy, which really sticks in my craw, since we know the Welsh Govt has a vindictive determination to desecrate the mid Wales landscape with hundreds of turbines and pylons. This is one reason I'm not at all certain I'm going to vote for the Bill. Controversially, it does not include power over policing. 

There is one matter where I consider the Bill to be an abysmal failure as it stands. It does not ensure 'financial accountability' is vested in Welsh Government by devolving responsibility to levy significant proportion of income tax. In truth, I've never considered the Welsh devolution model to be genuinely democratic. Voters are invited at elections to consider just one side of the ledger - how money is going to be spent, without consideration of how it's going to be raised. Delivers a Welsh Govt which claims credit for all that is looked on with favour by the electorate, and blames the UK Govt for not sufficiently funding all that is frowned by the voters, including mistakes and poor performance. In reality, the Welsh Govt budget has never been more than a 'spending plan' and itself no more than having the status of an elected quango. 

Actually, the Wales Bill does devolve responsibility for levying a significant proportion of income tax -  except that it also requires a referendum be held before it can be introduced. We can predict that any referendum debate will completely ignore the 'financial accountability' principle. It's no more that a 'blocking mechanism'. Holding a referendum will make Wales a laughing stock. Referendumitis is a Welsh disease. The UK Govt should amend the Wales Bill, devolving responsibility for 50% of income tax and scrap the referendum. In 1997, Wales voted for devolution, despite my advice that she shouldn't. Let's try to make it work. 

Daresay I've included some debatable opinions here. It is my first draft of comment on a draft bill. A few meetings this coming week which may instigate a second draft!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Images from RWC 2015

There's been unforgettable rugby played in RWC2015. Contemplating in the bath tub after watching a truly magnificent final, it's time to reflect on what stood out for me.
It began with the truly shocking victory of Japan over the Springboks. It was first statement of RWC2015 that rugby is changing. More pace, more risk, more offloads, more skill, more entertainment. To their great credit, South Africa got the message, though still more dependent on the power game than they should be. Lot of big men in South Africa! 
Then there was Wales. We had an amazing World Cup, bearing in mind the loss of key players. I will never understand how we managed to beat England from the position we were with 20 mins to go. And never understand how we failed to beat Australia, not scoring when they had only 13 men on the park. I've always believed every team (incl England, Japan, Welshpool 3rds) should take the points on offer. We didn't, and the Wallabies survived.
Nothing to be added to the failures of England and Ireland. They will both come back. Scotland had a fantastic RWC2015. Lucky in group draw, and actually beat Australia in the quarter final. The French referee will never be forgiven in Scotland. South Africa did ok, only losing in the semi to the best rugby side it's ever been my pleasure to watch. And Argentina were simply wonderful. My view is that the Pumas have had more impact on the game of rugby at RWC2015 than any other team. The pace, and offloading were breathless. A bit more accuracy and it's a small step to being amongst the very best. It's got to be the way to play. 
And there was the final today. The All Blacks were magnificent. It would have utter sacrilege if the yellow card had allowed Australia to win. The Aussies should not have beaten Wales, did not beat Scotland, at times were run ragged by the Pumas, and were well beaten today. But they do have the most wonderful fighting spirit. Never beaten til they're beaten. 
What can you say about the All Blacks. Richie McCaw has been my idol for many years. Perhaps the greatest rugby player ever. I suppose I was a 7 myself so biased. And Dan Carter. No-one else could have scored that drop goal. No-one else would have thought of it. And you just knew that 51yarder was going over. It's hard to accept that we may not see McCaw or Carter in the All Black shirt again. For those of us who love the game of rugby when played at it's best, we say thank you. We will never forget either of them. So it's goodbye RWC2015. It was a great spectacle. Roll on Japan in 2019.

Friday, October 30, 2015

RES UK letter re decision to go to JR

Onshore wind developer, RES UK wrote to me this week, copying in the local media. Thought I'd share it. While I understand that RES would be cross (very cross) that the Minister refused it's planning application, JR is normally about 'process' - not running the same arguments over again. I also understand why being refused permission to do just what they want will have come as a culture shock to the all-powerful energy company and it's army of barristers.  Anyway, thought I'd share it with you. Personally I it's very weak. So much so that I feel the formal appeal to DECC will have been a bit more focused. Would like to see it.
Dear Mr Davies,
In response to your comments reported recently in the Shropshire Star (22nd October 2015) and the Powys County Times (23rd October 2015), I wanted to take the opportunity to write to you to explain in detail why RES is proceeding with a Judicial Review claim in respect of the UK Government’s refusal of our Llanbrynmair Wind Farm project:
(1) Lack of adequate explanation for overturning Planning Inspector’s recommendation
The decision by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to overturn the judgement of its own independent Planning Inspector has not been adequately justified. In particular, DECC has not fully explained why it has disagreed with the Planning Inspector’s judgement that the benefits of the scheme outweigh its impacts. It should be emphasised that, during the 12 month high profile Mid Wales Public Inquiry, the expert Planning Inspector spent considerable time visiting all of the proposed wind farm sites, reviewing extensive representations and listening to community groups to establish whether the potential impacts of each proposed development were outweighed by the benefits of the scheme. In the case of Llanbrynmair Wind Farm, the Inspector’s judgment was that the project should be granted approval.
If RES’ Judicial Review of DECC’s decision is successful, the UK Government will be required to look again at the merits of our Llanbrynmair Wind Farm proposal and either reconsider its position in light of the Planning Inspector’s advice or to fully and robustly explain why it is taking a different view.
(2) Welsh Government and local support
The Welsh Government has consistently demonstrated widespread support for renewable energy, evident in planning policy and guidance note ‘TAN8’ which designates areas suitable for wind farm developments. Llanbrynmair Wind is located within one of the identified TAN8 Strategic Search Areas, and is therefore supported in principle by the Welsh Government.
In September 2015, the Welsh Government Environment Minister called the decision to reject plans to build wind farms in mid Wales "short-sighted" and that it was "hugely disappointing" that communities in Powys could lose out on millions of pounds of investment as a result. The Minister also expressed concern that businesses would find it difficult to understand why the UK Government had not followed the advice of its Planning Inspector, stating: "We want to make sure that people want to invest in our communities, make sure that we have energy security long term."

There has also been - and remains - a considerable level of support within the local communities in Mid Wales for the onshore wind projects that were considered through the conjoined Public Inquiry, as evidenced by the formation and activities of the Powys Wind Farm Supporters Group.
(3) Potential loss of significant investment into local businesses and communities
RES estimates Llanbrynmair Wind Farm would deliver at least £8 million in local economic investment through the use of local companies and services up to the first year of operation alone. In addition, local communities would benefit from some £7.5 million in community benefits over the project’s lifetime. This includes an annual £180,000 Community Benefit Fund in addition to RES’ innovative Local Electricity Discount Scheme which offers an annual discount of £152 off the electricity bills of some 750 residential, commercial and community properties within 5km of the turbines at Llanbrynmair.
These community benefits could make a very significant difference to local communities at a time when Powys County Council is having to make substantial budget cuts to numerous local services. RES does not believe that these significant business, supply chain and community benefits should be lost to the local area without full scrutiny of DECC’s decision to override its Planning Inspector’s judgement.
(4) Full and fair scrutiny to maintain investor confidence in Welsh and UK infrastructure
In the seven years that Llanbrynmair Wind Farm has been in the planning process, RES has invested several million pounds in the project - only to find that, despite Welsh Government support and a Planning Inspector’s backing, this significant financial commitment, which would deliver very substantial inward and community investment, risks being written off. It simply cannot be in the interests of Wales, England or the UK infrastructure sector for planning decisions relating to investment of this magnitude not to be fully and fairly scrutinised, and this full and fair scrutiny is what RES is seeking through the Judicial Review.
I have sent a copy of this letter to the Shropshire Star and Powys County Times and would like to emphasise that RES remains committed to working with Welsh Government, Powys County Council and local communities to ensure that the significant benefits presented by Llanbrynmair Wind Farm can be achieved.
Yours sincerely,
Gordon MacDougall
Managing Director, Western Europe


Thursday, October 29, 2015

At long last - a Newtown By-pass.

Glyn Davies, Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, has paid tribute to the key modern day politicians who have delivered on promises to build a Newtown Bypass. He was commenting after today’s announcement by the Welsh Government that approval has been given for the project to go ahead, with construction likely to begin before Christmas.
Many individuals have been involved in bringing this huge project to the construction phase, but Glyn Davies has paid tribute to three individual politicians who have made key contributions.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Glyn Davies MP, who has been involved in discussions about a Newtown Bypass since being elected as Montgomeryshire Planning Committee Chair in 1982, said;

"Today's announcement of the go-ahead for a Newtown Bypass is very good news for mid Wales. It is important for Newtown itself, but also for the whole of mid Wales to the West of Newtown. It's been a long slog reaching today's decision. I was first involved 33 years ago when elected Chair of Montgomeryshire's Planning Committee. Newtown was being doubled in size, and a bypass was thought crucial to the success of this great physical and social change."

“There have been many people involved in delivering today's result. In the early days, the late Peter Garbett-Edwards was a leading dynamic driving force, along with others. He would enjoy my remembering his key role today."

" I want to pay tribute to three modern day individuals who have also played key roles. Firstly, it was former Assembly Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones who made a firm commitment to deliver the Bypass by 2017 in a formal meeting with me in March 2011. That was the key commitment."

“Secondly, it has been Assembly Minister Edwina Hart who has driven the project over recent years, delivering on the promises made by her predecessor. Edwina has been a great champion of Montgomeryshire, delivering our renal dialysis unit, the Newtown Bypass, real movement on a new Dyfi Bridge and last week promising to scrap Welshpool's ridiculous one-way system. She has stood out as an Assembly Minister who has been a great friend of Montgomeryshire."

“And thirdly, I pay tribute to our own current Assembly Member, Russell George, who has shown great tenacity in ensuring that the Welsh Government's promises have been delivered on. He will continue to pressurise the Welsh Government to ensure there is no slippage in completing the scheme."

“It's been a very long time coming - but now it is coming. I hope to be driving on the new bypass in late 2017. It's wonderful news for Montgomeryshire - for Newtown, mid Wales to the West of Newtown, and our economic future. It's a day to celebrate.”