Residents of Talybont-On-Usk have said they have been 'intimidated' by the Stop Gilestone Farm Project, as the debate around the Welsh Government purchase intensifies. Their comments have been sent anonymously to The Brecon and Radnor Express.

It comes after the recent survey reports from the Stop Gilestone Farm Project claimed that residents 'overwhelmingly' voted in favour of stopping the purchase going ahead, which a spokesperson for Gilestone Farm disputed. They said that while they welcome efforts to consult the local community, last week's survey responses were 'misleading', and that 'nearly 60% of the Talybont community did not participate in the survey, so claims that the community has overwhelmingly rejected the plans are false.'

Upon reporting the story last week, others got in touch with The Brecon and Radnor Express to say that the majority of Talybont residents either didn't respond to the survey or don't mind the purchase.

The Welsh government bought the Powys farm for £4.25 million last year with a view to leasing it to the Green Man organisation.

Now, the Talybont residents have written to Welsh Government ministers and other key political figures asking for their help to deal with 'intimidation' and 'a barrage of misinformation' from opponents of the Gilestone Farm project.

The anonymous residents have claimed that they are being 'silenced' whenever they raise concerns over the Community Council, and that ‘malign influence’ of wealthy landowners and established residents are misleading the community over the Gilestone Farm Project.

In their letter to Welsh Government ministers, they have raised concerns about the role of Talybont-on-Usk Community Council and claim that 'wealthy absentee landowners' are 'misleading' local residents over the proposed Gilestone Farm project.

The group are supportive of the Gilestone Farm project but has said that to date they have felt unable to make their views known publicly, as the 'well-funded' opposition is quick to silence any signs of support. They believe that the landowners who are funding the campaign are only doing so to support their own vested interests.

A spokesperson for the group said: "We have witnessed a gradual attempted takeover of our community by wealthy individuals, some of whom do not even live in Wales let alone the village. These individuals, along with a few other established residents, have a distinct agenda to stop the project at all costs to protect their own selfish interests. We have been silent too long and have decided we have to speak out. We support the ideas behind the Gilestone Farm project but have felt too intimidated to speak up publicly. The opposition group’s campaign of unsightly banners and fliers across the village are extremely off-putting to visitors and damaging to local businesses and their online tirades are full of hearsay and misinformation. We have taken the difficult decision to write to the Welsh Government ministers and Powys County Council expressing our concerns about the problems that the opponents to Gilestone Farm are causing to our village life, and ask why, when they are aware of this, are they not doing anything about it?"

The letter to Welsh Government Ministers, obtained by The Brecon and Radnor Express, expresses the residents' support for the project and documents their experiences of intimidation. They claim that members of the Talybont-on-Usk Community Council have been forced to resign if they oppose this group, or if their views differ and that their positions have been refilled by individuals publicly affiliated to groups behind the campaign of 'misinformation and intimidation'.

The anonymous spokesperson continues, "The opposition group, in speaking for us as ‘the community’ have not only taken away our voice whilst putting words in our mouths but also taken away the democratic rights of any individual they disagree with in Talybont. They do not speak for the village.

"The opposing group have recently manipulated the community survey results in the press to portray incorrect and misleading figures that support their agenda to stop the project. Only 40% of those villagers eligible to take part in the survey responded, indicating a majority not having strong feelings either for or against the project."

Stop Gilestone Farm Project
(Stop Gilestone Farm Project)

The letter to the Welsh Government has been signed by six people in favour of the project plans, but the residents have said that 'there are many others in support who still feel too intimidated to publicly express their opinion.'

It is not the first time there have been claims of intimidation tactics. In May of this year, one councillor claimed that controversy surrounding the Welsh Government’s decision to buy Gilestone Farm has led to a toxic environment in the local area.

Speaking to Nation Cymru, Liberal Democrat councillor Anita Cartwright, and representative of Talybont on Powys County Council, said, "The abuse encountered has taken many forms from spreading untrue and defamatory statements of conflicts of interest to a constant barrage of threats and aggressive criticism, designed to undermine and discourage. Wearing recipients down until they feel their only option is to resign." She took an extended leave of absence, with Powys County Council saying that absence ended on the 31st August 2023.

A spokesperson for the Stop Gilestone Farm Project community group said: "These are serious allegations, but there is no evidence to support any of them. We have always asked those supporting the Green Man’s proposals to address the issues rather than making personal attacks.

"One of those issues is the recent community council survey, in which the overwhelming majority of residents decisively rejected the Green Man’s plans for Gilestone Farm. The scheme’s supporters should perhaps reflect on those results rather than making allegations of bias, without any supporting evidence.

"Our group was convened in May 2023. We are asking that the Welsh government talk to the local community about the Green Man proposals and listen to what we have to say. We believe this scheme poses a risk to wildlife at Gilestone Farm and will lead to increased traffic and pollution.

"These are all legitimate issues to raise about a project which has already received generous support from taxpayers. We have always conducted our campaign in a kind and respectful way and ensured we stick to the facts. We urge the Green Man’s supporters to do the same and stop making unjustified and inaccurate attacks on members of our community."

In the past, the Welsh Government have said the site will not be used as a location for the Green Man Festival as it is not logical to move the current festival six miles to an undeveloped site which would disrupt the economic stability of the region. In addition, Gilestone Farm is not large enough to accommodate the Green Man Festival.

They have also said that respect for the natural world and environment is at the heart of the Green Man brand and this ethos will remain central to the proposed activities at Gilestone Farm. Neither the Green Man brand or Welsh Government wish to embark on a project that will damage the environment or biodiversity of the site at Gilestone Farm, and that they will 'work in harmony' with the natural environment.

A spokesperson for Talybont-On-Usk Community Council said: "Talybont-on-Usk Community Council considers the ‘anonymous’ allegations sent to your newspaper extremely saddening, completely untrue and without any evidence to support them. The Council wish it to be known it is doing its very best to represent this Community following so much turmoil brought about by the still unclear Gilestone project proposals and find it particularly concerning that this deliberately inflammatory and misleading report from a few ‘anonymous’ pro Gilestone Project supporters was even considered for publication.

"The Council does not wish to enter into a war of words with these ‘anonymous’ people. The Council’s wish is to be allowed to get back to focusing on all the normal day to day business in support of our community and this includes continuing with the Gilestone Project community engagement exercise in a proper and professional manner. This exercise has started with a Survey which has clearly demonstrated the views of the people in the Talybont on Usk Community with the majority against the proposals. The Council feels it to be futile responding to these or any other nonsensical claims deliberately aimed at disrupting the Council and discrediting the Survey which clearly did not deliver a result to the liking of this ‘anonymous’ Group.

"Their constant attempts to demean and disrupt the work of this Council is deplorable along with the unfounded claims of intimidation and bullying which are constantly used to cause maximum animosity and damage to the council but always with no evidence to consider. Concerning the membership of the Council, it should be made clear there has been ample opportunity for anyone in the community to put their name forward to join the council, and those who have been successful were appointed democratically and based on their experience and commitment to work for the whole community on a range of issues not purely Gilestone Farm. Clearly the role of all councillors is to represent the community, rather than their own selfinterests and all councillors pledge to do this when accepting the role.

"Regarding the allegations of manipulating the recent community survey by this ‘anonymous’ group. Everyone had an opportunity to express their views and the questions could be, and were in some cases, answered in complete support of the proposals, however, only a small minority chose to complete the survey in this way. 181 people felt strongly enough about the issue to comment on the forms and these comments are now available to view on the Talybont on Usk Council website at You will note of the comments, 29 were positive, 9 were undecided or critical of the way the survey was run and the remainder,143, expressed various concerns about the Gilestone Farm Project.

"Therefore, the Council stand by the results and feel that this is a strong mandate from the community when next meeting with the Welsh Government to request more exact information and clear assurances to address concerns raised in the comments, including those of noise, traffic, infrastructure burden, and river, wildlife, and environmental concerns.

"Finally, the Council feels we must again state that our role does not purely revolve around the Gilestone farm issue. There is a very considerable amount of other essential work which needs to be done to keep the village functioning. We wish all residents of the Talybont on Usk Community to be assured this Council will continue with the aim of representing the whole community to the best of our ability and are extremely grateful for the support of the vast majority of people who live in this Community at what is an extremely difficult and worrying time."