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Bute Energy accused of threatening landowners in pylon survey access row

12 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Photo Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Martin Shipton

Landowners in mid Wales are seeking legal advice after receiving what they consider to be threatening letters from an energy company that wants access to their properties to survey for a long distance pylon network.

The letters are from land agents Bruton Knowles, who act for GreenGen Cymru, a subsidiary of Bute Energy, and state: “Further to our various recent contacts seeking to secure voluntary walkover survey access, we note that we have not received a signed licence form from you.

“As you are aware, GreenGen Cymru Ltd will be making an application for a Development of National Significance (DNS) planning permission under the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 to build a new connection between an Energy Park at Nant Mithil, Llanfihangel-nant-Melan [near Presteigne] and Llandyfaelog [near Kidwelly in Carmarthenshire].

“The application for the DNS will be examined by the Planning Inspectorate Wales. Before then, non-intrusive surveys need to be carried out to help inform the route of the proposed connection, how it will be constructed and investigate potential environmental considerations. The surveys will be carried out by specialist contractors who will provide identification and a letter of introduction from GreenGen Cymru.

“It is important to note that a request to undertake surveys on land does not mean that it will necessarily form part of the route or have infrastructure placed on it, as we are required to survey widely, in particular for ecological interest.

“Continued efforts have been made and indeed it would be much preferred to obtain voluntary consent to carry out the surveys and investigations, and our client GtrrnGen Cymru is offering an advanced compensation payment of £500 in recognition of any potential damage and disturbance caused. Additional compensation for damage would be considered at the relevant time if this amount is proved to be insufficient.

“Our strong preference is to agree voluntary consent to access land for surveys and investigations. If we cannot work with you to agree access, we would reluctantly have little alternative but to look at what options may be available to us, including consideration of issuing a 14-day notice under Section 172 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which would provide access to land on the expiration date of the notice. Under Section177 of the Act, it is an offence without reasonable excuse to obstruct another person in exercising the powers granted under Section 172 of the Act to carry out the surveys and anyone obstructing access could face a fine.

“Civil court proceedings can also be taken against anyone who obstructs, permits or incites others to obstruct the carrying out of surveys under a notice.

“As you will appreciate, GreenGen Cymru would rather not resort to potentially using any statutory powers and very much hope a mutually agreed arrangement can be put in place.”

Threatening

A landowner who did not wish to be named told Nation.Cymru: “We are aware of a number of people who have received this letter and we are seeking legal advice about its content, which we find threatening in tone.”

Another source in the area told us: “If, as we believe to be the case, GreenGen hasn’t got a licence from Ofgem to operate an electricity network, they have no more right than you or I to demand access to people’s land. Instead, they are acting in a bullying and threatening manner.”

Engaged

A spokesperson for Bute Energy said: “During the past year GreenGen Cymru has fully engaged with local communities to share information on its projects – including Towy Usk. All these projects will connect clean, green energy from mid Wales to enable the delivery of West Government targets to address climate change.

“The planning process requires us to conduct environmental and ecological surveys to ensure all work planned mitigates potential infrastructure impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. These are the surveys for which we have been seeking to agree access for over the past 12 months.

“There is no question of GreenGen Cymru bullying or threatening anyone. The company is simply following best practice in its long term communications with landowners to ensure that vital environmental surveys are carried out in a timely, co-operative and effective manner. The company remains committed to its goals of helping deliver on the Welsh government’s target for 100% of the nation’s electricity to be renewable by 2035. We will continue working closely with mid Wales communities to reach this vital goal.”

Application

Asked whether the company had obtained an Independent Distribution Network Operator’s (IDNO) licence from Ofgem to own and operate electricity networks, the spokesperson said: “GreenGen Cymru has made an application for an IDNO licence to Ofgem to allow it to design, develop and operate a local electricity network.

The outcome of the application is expected in the near future.

“GreenGen is currently developing grid projects which are registered with Planning Environment Decision Wales.

We are following best practice by building relationships at an early stage with local landowners. We want to work collaboratively with them and the wider community throughout this process.”


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Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
3 months ago

We need Big Energy as much as Big Pharma or Big Government.

Community-owned energy and micro-grids are the future.

TomTom82
TomTom82
3 months ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

Community owned energy? That’s a very sneaky way of saying socialism. You bemoan ‘big government’ yet you want them to operate power plants? Nobody has the right to steal other peoples property, nationalising the grid is theft. How would you feel if the government did a mandatory purchase of your ‘community-owned’ power generator?

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
3 months ago
Reply to  TomTom82

Tomtom2, I resent your insinuation that I would be sneaky. But it might be because I am a libertarian socialist (naked, unashamed) that I support community ownership. Or it could be because I want to put power into the hands of people and their communities and operate energy production and distribution to benefit us in Cymru, not unaccountable private owners abroad. Energy cooperatives are currently flourishing in the UK, despite less than lukewarm government support. As for your quaint notion that nationalising the grid would be theft, how about water, railways and other strategic assets that most people want nationalised.… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

TT82 is obviously very chilled about having our country pilfered away by the international klepto’s. Bute Energy and its agents are just the very small tip of a big corporate push to grab assets. They are using the green energy drive as a cover for their long term strategy of shifting wealth into a very small %age of the global population with the connivance of governments. They get rich and we get poorer!

Grievous
Grievous
3 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Quite

Grievous
Grievous
3 months ago
Reply to  TomTom82

Wrong any land can be compulsory purchased and nationalising the grid is lawful .

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago

I mentioned giant crabs coming ashore at Shell Island in a Pulp horror book. This sounds like one claw…

Our new Baroness worked for this firm did she not ?

Are they looking into burying them to or is this more of the march of progress, Drakeford and Waters style…

Do we have our own Gove, pulling the strings like the Wizard of Ox, they need exposing if we do…

Open democracy has sailed right on by…

Last edited 3 months ago by Mab Meirion
Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
3 months ago

No surprise! Green Gen have ex National Grid people, and they threatened people on Ynys Môn. We had to complain to their ethics committee

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
3 months ago

They are incorrect. A DNS will be examined by PEDW not PINS Wales

Jeff
Jeff
3 months ago

Which is why I want to see who gains and buy how much over x number of years not “can power” x number of homes. We still have to buy the leccy, be nice to know who we are funding, not just the people named in companies house, the full gamut.

Be nice when it is all community and not people in it to profit what they can but maybe that is OK if we are getting a fair return. Who can dig through the books.

Hywel
Hywel
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Have a look at this, Jeff, for a closer look at this company –
https://jacothenorth.net/blog/tag/bute-energy-ltd/

Gaynor
Gaynor
3 months ago

They are untouchable now with their Baroness Bute sitting in the HOL

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
3 months ago

Would Plaid Cymru and Baroness Smith care to comment?
I’m sure the silence will be deafening.

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

You surely mean Plaid Cymru’s Cachgwn wing. Or has the other (good) wing withered away completely ?

Richard
Richard
3 months ago

They may well be advised finding a “ good “ lobbyist? 😝

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
3 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Just a thought, but why is the Senedd not placing a ban on surface grid extensions like this. All new grid expansion should be underground, no ifs, no buts.

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Or take those beautiful energy parks nearer to the end users. 100 meter turbines in the middle of London should improve the quality of life down there and next to none need for expensive overland transmission networks.

David Mills
David Mills
3 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

These onshore wind farms should be located near to existing grid and closer to the largest consumer etc.
Covering mid and West Wales with turbines to satisfy some ill thought out ideologically driven policy is totally wrong

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