Campaigners join forces to call for protection of Welsh language communities
Welsh Language campaigners have joined with anti-nuclear groups to lobby councillors in Gwynedd to adopt a new joint local development plan focused on protecting Welsh speaking communities and moving away from big nuclear projects.
The current JLDP between Gwynedd and Anglesey Councils, agreed in 2017, focused on the development of large projects such as the now paused Wylfa B nuclear plant, as the main driver of local economic development.
The plan was narrowly passed on the casting vote of the Chair of the County Council despite many councillors expressing concern at its potential damage to Welsh language communities as new people came into the county to work on the new nuclear plant. But backbench councillors have now successfully enabled an extraordinary meeting of the council on the 28 June to discuss an urgent review of the plan.
Campaigners including Cymdeithas yr Iaith, the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Welsh Forum, PAWB (People Against Wylfa B) and CADNO (the local group challenging proposed new nuclear developments at Trawsfynydd) have written a letter to all Gwynedd councillors calling for the council to move away from support for new nuclear projects to concentrate on renewable and decentralised energy projects more sympathetic to the environment and which prioritise creating jobs for people living in Gwynedd and Anglesey.
The letter notes: “In total, the JLDP mentions the erection of 3,817 houses on Anglesey and 3,367 houses in Gwynedd. It is impossible to believe now that this number is needed for local requirements.
“The problem remains that if the land that has been previously allocated in areas for housing development is not reconsidered, then it may still be available as a prey to developers even though Wylfa B has been effectively scrapped.
“We believe that if Gwynedd County Council retains its plans for allowing the building of houses it will have a significant impact on those communities, linguistically, culturally and socially, not to mention the large use of greenfield land, giving the landscape a further blow.
“We also believe that there will be huge pressures on health, education, social services and the emergency services by such a large increase in the local population.”
The joint letter concludes: “We encourage you to move in a new direction at next Monday’s extraordinary meeting of the Council. Gwynedd County Council has missed out on new ideas and new thinking by focusing so much of its attention on new nuclear when it could have developed smaller, innovative, community owned energy alternatives.
“It would not need so many new homes for such developments and the area could retain its Welsh language speakers, who would be proud to live in Gwynedd and Anglesey.”
Hitachi scrapped plans to build the £20 billion Wylfa B plant last September but there were reports in February that the Welsh Government was attempting to buy the site in order to resurrect the project.
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Subseuent correspondence from Welsh Government has confirmed there was no truth in the Sunday Times article that they were interested in buying the Wylfa site from Hitachi
This is a very wise proposal, and Gwynedd and Ynys Mon County Councils should adopt it. Neither the developers nor the Westminster Government should be allowed to force the original LDP on this part of Cymru, and the Welsh Government should be prepared to step in if necessary to safeguard the landscape and help to promote a productive but smaller-scale local economy that gives priority to providing jobs for local people. There is no reason why Welsh cannot be the language of the workplace in the region.