Brecon and Radnorshire MP Fay Jones joined hundreds of residents recently in voicing concerns about plans to build a 60km stretch of pylons across the constituency.
Around 400 people attended a meeting last Thursday at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd, to discuss proposals for a windfarm in Radnor Forest and accompanying power lines.
The Green GEN Towy Usk proposal is for a new 132kV overhead power line, supported by steel pylons, which would run from a substation in the Radnor Forest (called Nant Mithil Energy Park) and a new substation near Llandyfaelog in Carmarthenshire.
The ‘preferred route’ would see pylons built on land near Builth Wells, across the Epynt to Llangammarch and down towards Carmarthen.
The wind farm plans themselves, put forward by Bute Energy, would see 36 wind turbines built in the Radnor Forest. The turbines would be up to 220m in height.
A consultation was launched this week on the power line proposals. This initial public consultation will run until Friday, April 28.
Several public exhibitions have been announced which will allow the public a chance to get their questions answered and find out more information about the proposals.
Ms Jones, who travelled back from London specifically to attend Thursday’s meeting, said that although we need to look at alternative solutions, “carpeting our outstanding countryside” with pylons and turbines is “not the answer”.
Ms Jones said: “I am deeply concerned that Radnorshire is consistently looked at as attractive to energy firms. Radnorshire should not have to shoulder the burden of our energy challenge.
“Nobody would dispute that we need to look at alternative solutions, but carpeting our outstanding countryside – right through the heart of Wales – with turbines and pylons is not the answer. When we need our land for food production, environmental delivery and for local communities to grow and thrive, we ought to be looking at other options including nuclear and tidal first.”
The MP also raised concerns about the proposed height of the turbines at Nant Mithil Energy Park, which would stand at 220m - double the height of those for Hendy Wind Farm.
Ms Jones said: “I particularly agreed with one lady who told the meeting that farmers were being asked to plant trees and rewild, while the Welsh Labour Government allows the mass industrialisation of the countryside. This should trouble all of us."
Ms Jones urged as many of her constituents as possible to engage with the consultation.
“I am really pleased that a steering group has been formed after last week’s meeting,” she said.
“I look forward to doing whatever I can to work with them to oppose these pylons. It is now up to everyone to make their views known and respond to Bute Energy’s consultation.”
During Thursday’s meeting, which was hosted by the Countryside Alliance, residents heard from the Campaign to Protect Rural Wales (CPRW), and advised on how to create a steering group to campaign against the plans.
CPRW, along with the Countryside Alliance, believes that if the wind farm must go ahead, the accompanying pylons and cables must be buried to avoid spoiling the landscape.
Bute Energy says the project will link to its Nant Mithil Energy Park, which will reduce pressure on the existing electricity grid, support green businesses and enable green heating and the roll out of electric vehicles across rural Wales.
The standard height for a 132kv pylon is 27m. The average distance between pylons, or ‘span length’, is approximately 250m. Exact pylon heights and span lengths can be increased or decreased depending on the terrain they cross, or obstacles like streams and rivers.
Ross Evans of CPRW said: “If Bute’s consultations get anywhere close to the crowds we have had they will know the level of hostility to their proposal.
“We, as well as the Countryside Alliance, have been inundated with queries and concerns from landowners across mid and west Wales, that is reflected in the size of the crowds at our public meetings. Despite putting their consultation on at one of the busiest times of year for farmers, I’m sure Bute Energy will feel the level of opposition for their proposal.
“The public are also confused to why Bute are implementing consultations on the pylon proposal before they have even submitted their application for their wind energy project in the Radnor Forest that they want to connect to – I highly doubt that wind project will go ahead in its current controversial proposal, which is 80 per cent outside the 'pre-assessed area' designated for wind projects by the Welsh Government.”
The Countryside Alliance said that the amount of people at Thursday’s meeting demonstrates the “strength of feeling” people have about the proposals.
Director for Wales Rachel Evans said there is “huge concern” about the effect that pylons will have on the landscape and the “knock-on effect this will have on the tourism sector”.
Gareth Williams, grid director at Bute Energy said: “As a nation we’re in a climate emergency, and a cost of living crisis. Our supply of energy is threatened by world events. Yet there is endless potential for renewable energy in Wales – particularly from the wind that blows across our hills and mountains.
“Bute Energy is taking action now to help deliver clean green energy to our homes and businesses by developing the energy network in Wales. This will help tackle both the energy crisis and the climate crisis and make sure that local communities can live modern electric lives with less reliance on fossil fuels. It will also help support the Welsh Government’s target for electricity to be 100 per cent renewable by 2035.
“We know that people have differing views on new infrastructure, and we are committed to doing everything we can to cause the least disturbance to the environment and those who live, work and enjoy recreation close to our proposals. We’d urge people to have their say on our plans so that we can develop the best solution for the environment and for communities across Wales.”
Five public exhibition throughout Wales events are being held this month, which people are urged to attend:
• Thursday, March 23, 2pm to 7.30pm Montgomery Pavilion, Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells LD2 3SY
• Saturday, March 25, 11am to 4pm Llandeilo Fawr Civic Hall, 17 Crescent Road, Llandeilo SA19 6HW
• Tuesday, March 28, 2pm to 7.30pm Penybont District Community Centre, Penybont, nr Llandrindod Wells LD1 5UA
• Wednesday, March 29, 2pm to 7.30pm Llandovery Rugby Club, Church Bank, , Llandovery SA20 0BA
• Thursday, March 30 , 2pm to 7.30pm Llandyfaelog Community Hall, Carmarthenshire SA17 5PA