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Campaign launched to fight ‘industrialisation’ of Carmarthenshire

19 Apr 2023 4 minute read
Havard Hughes of the Carmarthenshire Residents Action Group

Siân Williams

A campaign has been launched to fight what opponents are describing as proposals for the “industrialisation” of Carmarthenshire.

Former Conservative Westminster candidate Havard Hughes, speaking on behalf of the Carmarthenshire Residents Action Group (CRAiG), told Nation.Cymru: “People aren’t aware of the extent of the industrialisation being proposed for Carmarthenshire.

“That is why we have decided to launch a campaign to designate the Tywi Valley as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

“The much bigger picture is that about a third of Carmarthenshire has been (earmarked) for this industrial wind, solar and pylon zone.”

Controversial plans by Bute Energy to erect 60 miles of pylons from Carmarthen to Powys through the Tywi Valley has already met with fierce opposition.

Bute Energy wants to connect the proposed Nant Mithil windfarm in Powys with the National Grid point near Carmarthen. The company argues that installing underground cables would be more expensive than erecting pylons.

The developer of onshore wind and solar energy parks, Bute Energy claims to have carried out a “high level cost comparison” before concluding that “the most economic and efficient option” are double-circuit monster pylons.

A company spokesman said: “This cost assessment took into account key assumptions … such as the need for the potential of undergrounding … the cost estimates are based on generalised unit costs for the main elements of each option.”

Policy

Future Wales: The National Plan 2040 is the Welsh Government development plan which influences all levels of the planning system up to 2040.

According to Welsh Government it will help to shape Strategic and Local Development Plans prepared by councils and national park authorities.

It is a framework which guides all planning decisions – from housing to power supplies. The plan also supports larger renewable and low carbon energy development.

It was on reading this plan that CRAiG campaigners realised, “there’s a huge amount of industrial development stated for Carmarthenshire,” Mr Hughes said. Havard Hughes:

Special landscapes

CRAiG campaigners are also attempting to persuade Carmarthenshire County Council to keep its Special Landscape Areas (SLAs) designation.

Although SLA’s are non-statutory, Mr Hughes argues they have been used in the past to stop the erection of pylons.

He said: “SLAs are quite influential in planning decisions – I live near Brechfa (wind farm) and the power lines come down past my house, heading south across the Tywi Valley.

“The planning weight was such that they had to put those cables underground, because of the SLA.”

He claims that the Council plans to replace the SLAs with new guidance.

“The new Local Development Plan is currently being drawn up. In the existing plan there are 18 Special Landscape Areas (SLAs) which they are seeking to remove.”

Campaigners “feel betrayed” by the Council’s actions around the SLAs said Mr Hughes.

“Publicly they have backed residents’ concerns over pylons. Meanwhile they are going behind their backs to pave the way for developers and pylons.

“Carmarthenshire County Council has been quick to talk tough on pylons.  However, their actions on the local plan speak louder than these words and jeopardise our landscapes.”

The Cabinet is responsible for the overall business of the Council. It comprises of 10 elected councillors who meet every 2 weeks and takes questions from the public.

Mr Hughes said they’ve tabled questions for the Cabinet’s meeting of 25 April, “On issues related to the Special Landscape Areas and also on the proposal to have an AONB in the Tywi Valley.”

Natural beauty

Mr Hughes said CRAiG campaigners have approached Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on the subject of designating the Tywi Valley an AONB.

NRW is the statutory adviser on landscape and the designating authority for any new AONBs.

In a statement, Ruth Jenkins, Head of Natural Resource Management at NRW said Welsh Government has not asked NRW to examine the case for designating the Tywi Valley an AONB.

She said: “We understand there is growing interest in looking at an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation status for the Towy Valley.”

There are currently five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Wales which collectively cover around 5% of the country.

On the subject of AONB, a Welsh Government spokesperson said, as a guide, “We would expect the designation process to take between four and five years from its formal commencement to being considered by Ministers.”

Carmarthenshire Council has been approached for comment.


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Lyn Thomas
Lyn Thomas
10 months ago

So how do we decarbonise if we don’t build the renewable infrastructure?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
10 months ago
Reply to  Lyn Thomas

It’s not about whether to build a renewable energy infrastructure or not, but whether to put it on pylons or to put it underground. Pylons would have a negative visual impact upon what is an outstandingly beautiful area. Putting it underground would probably cost more, but if it’s for long-term use, then this needs to be a factor considered. After all, the LNG gas pipeline across the entirety of south Wales from Milford Haven is underground, as was the 1970s Shell oil pipeline across north Wales. It doesn’t have to be a choice between a pristine environment and a modern… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Spot on. Underground is already a proven method but the spivs profiteering out of the energy/pollution sector are out to cut costs to the bone.

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
10 months ago
Reply to  Lyn Thomas

Wales can reach net zero using ONLY offshore wind, which is now the cheapest form of carbon free electricity, so we certainly don’t need less efficient onshore wind farms. We have so much potential offshore we can export to the rest of the U.K. as well

Mid Wales has multiple existing electricity circuits which can be uprated, so there is currently no evidence new pylon lines are needed

Generating power is the easy bit, getting everyone to switch to heat pumps and EVs is where the effort is needed

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
10 months ago

I’d rather a campaign started to fight the colonisation of Carmarthenshire!

Marc Davies
Marc Davies
10 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

A far more pressing issue, but one that ranks about number 560 on Welsh Government’s agenda.

Gareth
Gareth
10 months ago

I did read recently that the need for these pylons was to satisfy consumption of energy in west England. Why cant they put the pylons through the the middle of England, I’m pretty sure the have links to the national grid in England, or are they now using candles due to lack of facilities.

Last edited 10 months ago by Gareth
CapM
CapM
10 months ago

‘A campaign has been launched to fight what opponents are describing as proposals for the “industrialisation” of Carmarthenshire.’

Most of Carmarthenshire is already industrialised. The industry being agriculture. Based on the low biodiversity over much of the county heavily industrialised would be more accurate.

“‘Eyesores” such as pylons and wind turbines are needed because we use so much energy. As long as there is little willingness to accept and adapt to different lifestyles and expectations we’re going to need more “eyesores” than are strictly necessary.

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
10 months ago
Reply to  CapM

But we don’t need onshore wind when offshore is cheaper and less destructive

CapM
CapM
10 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Dean

But we still need to distribute the power wherever it’s generated.

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
10 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Mid Wales does already have electricity distribution! The normal approach would be to upgrade existing lines, then install larger assets on existing routes, and only if those weren’t enough, install new assets in new routes. Bute’s approach has been to jump to the very last without even looking to see if the more acceptable options are viable. And if course Bute’s proposals have nothing to do with distributing to homes and businesses

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
10 months ago

A simple comparison … the pylon line Bute want to install will have three times the capacity of the dedicated line that fed Anglesey Aluminium, taking 1/3 of the output of Wylfa nuclear power station 24/7 for many decades producing 126,000 tonnes/year of aluminium. Their proposal has nothing to do with getting electricity for EVs to people’s homes

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