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MP and MS accuse energy firm of illegally accessing land for pylon project

20 May 2024 5 minute read
Pylon image: Bute Energy

Martin Shipton

A Member of Parliament and a Senedd Member have accused a controversial energy company of illegally accessing land as part of its plan to build a network of pylons across mid Wales.

Craig Williams and Russell George, respectively the MP and MS for Montgomeryshire, have written to Oliver Millican, chairman of the Bute Energy Group, to demand an urgent meeting.

In a joint letter to Mr Millican, the Tory politicians state: “We recently met with your managing director, Stuart George and community director, Catryn Davies. During our meeting, we conveyed our discomfort with the aggressive way your company is surveying landowners and attempting to access land against their will, especially as you do not have an Independent Distribution Network Operator licence (IDNO).

“We now find ourselves compelled to write to you directly due to a further incident of illegal access onto land within my constituency, during which we are informed that one of your subsidiaries – GreenGEN Cymru- accessed land without any permission or warrant.

“Such incidents are in addition to the aggressive issuance of Section 172 notices [demanding a right to access land] to landowners within my constituency, for which a legal or statutory basis appears to be notably absent. GreenGEN Cymru, as I understand, is not yet a licensed IDNO and consequently lacks the statutory powers under the Electricity Act that might justify such actions. Additionally, your company has not secured any form of planning permissions that would sanction these intrusions.

“We and our constituents are left to perceive GreenGEN Cymru’s intentions as purely speculative, possessing no greater legal right to access land than any other entity. This is particularly troubling given previous assurances we received that Bute Energy was making great strides in improving its engagement practices with communities and stakeholders.

“Given these serious circumstances, we are now requesting an urgent meeting with you in your capacity as chairman and majority shareholder of Bute Energy, to discuss these matters directly and convey the deep concerns of our constituents in person. We would be grateful for such a meeting to take place at your earliest convenience.

“Bullying tactics”

Mr Williams said: “I am appalled by the bullying tactics and behaviour which has been displayed by Bute Energy and GreenGEN Cymru, in accessing land within Montgomeryshire without permission or any legal basis.

“During a recent meeting with senior Bute Energy officials, Russell and I conveyed our extreme discomfort regarding these tactics – coupled with the aggressive use of Section 172 access notices which have been sent to landowners across Montgomeryshire. We received assurances that such incidents would not reoccur and that the company was committed to addressing the way it engages with landowners and stakeholders.

“This is very clearly not the case, and we have therefore written to Oliver Millican to insist on an urgent meeting in protecting Montgomeryshire landowners against illegal access to their land. Given the seriousness of this situation, I will also be raising this matter directly with Ofgem as the licence regulator, and with the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.”

Mr George said: “It is extremely disappointing that Bute Energy and GreenGEN Cymru continue to display threatening and strong-arm tactics towards landowners – particularly given they do not have an IDNO licence giving them authority to access land. This also goes against previous assurances we were given by Bute officials recently.

“As well as meeting with the chairman of Bute Energy, Craig and I are also working closely with the Montgomeryshire Against Pylons campaign group, who are also seeking urgent legal opinion for landowners who have been affected.”

“Critical importance”

A spokesperson for GreenGen Cymru said: “We are aware of the concerns raised regarding our land access procedures for essential environmental surveys connected with our infrastructure projects. These surveys form a crucial part of the UK planning process, as they support the environmental impact assessment required for our Development Consent Order application to the Planning Inspectorate.

“Since our project’s inception, we have actively engaged with landowners along the proposed route. Our land agents have contacted each landowner by letter and phone to negotiate survey access. We are committed to offering financial support for independent land agent advice and have proposed advance compensation for any potential damage during the surveys.

“Agreeing to these surveys does not restrict a landowner’s ability to participate in the project consultation. Our preferred strategy has always been to secure voluntary access for these surveys, and we continue to encourage landowners to engage with us. Landowners can reach our land agents at 0161 200 9856 or via email at [email protected].

“However, given the critical importance of these surveys to the development of our project, we have utilised our legal rights under Sections 172 and 174 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which apply to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. Notices to this effect have been issued to some landowners.

“GreenGEN Cymru is committed to advancing our projects in a manner that respects the rights and concerns of all stakeholders. We are eager to resolve any misunderstandings and demonstrate our commitment to transparent and constructive engagement with the communities where we operate.

“Oliver Millican will be responding to the letter from Mr Williams and Mr George. He is, of course, happy to meet with them to discuss their concerns and explain the processes we have followed in more detail.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
14 days ago

What was his name again, the man from Bute…Jack Boot !

Bad Company, it’s obvious Cymru is being taken to the cleaners again…the clue is in the name !

14 days ago

UK is a cash cow for a few. Want to build, want to take energy and sell it back at a profit, then company books open and short term contracts. I want to see this back in public ownership, long term contracts will ties us up for another genration.

Why vote
Why vote
13 days ago

If this company is behaving in this manner now what will they be like if they are allowed to progress with this scheme, contracts should be cancelled immediately and they not be allowed further access to government funding.

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