Residents gathered in Old Radnor today to voice their concerns to Fay Jones, MP for Brecon & Radnorshire, about the proposed 36 wind turbines in Radnor Forest.
The company, known as Bute Energy, is also planning a 60-mile trail of electricity pylons, stretching from Llandyfaelog in Carmarthenshire, through Llangammarch Wells and across the Sennybridge Training Area. More than 40 people attended to the event, which was organised by Ms Jones.
Ms Jones was in attendance to speak with those who are concerned about the project, known as Nant Mithil Energy Park, and believes the plans will cause 'enormous problems' that will profit a company. "I think if you ask anybody if they're in favour of green energy, they would say yes. We all want to do the right thing. In practice, this does not work. For me, this project at its heart is about generating energy for profit. That's fine, but not at the expense of our countryside, not at the expense of the people who live in this part of the world. It's not green because this is about making money for a business that is not based here."
The concern is that the pylons, proposed to be 220m high, will have a huge impact on the rolling hills of the Welsh countryside, which Ms Jones believes is Radnor's USP, bringing in tourists and visitors from all over the world. She believes there are obvious alternatives to the proposed plans, which one resident in attendance believes the Welsh Government have already 'signed off'.
"We should be looking at offshore, putting these projects out at sea." Ms Jones said. "Nuclear is something the government needs to put its energies into. Individuals want to do their part. They want to put energy panels on their roof. Let's increase the grid capacity first, and then we can help people make small-scale energy investments so that we can all transition to green energy."
Ms Jones, who personally would not like to see the project go ahead at all, is being as vocal as possible to make sure concerns are heard in Westminster, and by the Welsh Government. "Community consent is the key point here. I don't think the right thing for me to do is to say what I think. I need to listen to my communities and find out what they think. I'm making it as abundantly clear as I can, telling any journalist who will listen, any minister in the Welsh government, or any minister in Westminster that my community is opposed to these plans."
In the past, Fay Jones and Ross Evans from The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW), have stated that the project makes very little sense commercially and will result in a huge environmental impact to the area.
Ms Jones is keen to stress to those who are concerned that this project still has a long way to go. "We have breathing space. These plans are not on the table immediately. Decisions are not being made in the next weeks or months, this is more likely years away. This is not a live planning application yet. That will come next year at the earliest. Right now, the next steps, people need to understand these plans, work out what they would mean, where they would be seen from, where the turbines are going to go, and where the pylons are going to go, now is the time to get under the skin of these plans and really work out what they will mean for parts of Radnorshire."
A spokesperson from Bute Energy said “We are in a climate emergency and a cost-of-living crisis, and our supply of energy is threatened by world events. Bute Energy is acting now, taking positive proactive steps to help address these issues, while investing in rural communities in Wales to help them have a sustainable future."
They believe the energy can generate around 237MW of clean, green energy in the Radnor Forest area.
They have also heard concerns from those who live in the area, citing their own public consultations. "All feedback received will be carefully considered, along with assessments from environmental and technical surveys, ahead of the next round of public consultation – expected in early 2024."
“We know people have differing views on new infrastructure. But across Wales, there’s broad agreement that renewable energy has an important part to play in responding to the climate emergency." They continued. "Research shows that a clear majority of people in every constituency support onshore wind and are happy to see renewable energy infrastructure in their local area.”