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‘Undergrounding’ call as renewable energy company announces big pylon scheme in west Wales

24 Jan 2024 6 minute read
An example of the type of pylon proposed

Martin Shipton

Former Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has called on the Welsh Government to make underground cabling the default method for linking new renewable energy schemes to the national grid.

Mr Price’s call follows an announcement that a subsidiary of Bute Energy wants to build a network of pylons across Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

The group is already facing opposition from campaigners in Powys, who say beautiful landscapes in mid Wales face destruction by proposals to build wind farms and pylons.

“Vital”

A statement issued by Bute Energy’s subsidiary said: “Green GEN Cymru is excited to announce the launch of Green GEN Towy Teifi, a transformative renewable energy network designed to seamlessly integrate clean, green energy into the National Grid. This ground-breaking initiative is not just about connecting power; it’s about empowering rural communities in Wales to embrace a sustainable future, rich with opportunities for investment, jobs, and skill development.

“The project will link Bute Energy’s proposed Lan Fawr Energy Park into a new National Grid substation proposed for south of Carmarthen. Lan Fawr Energy Park, located just north of Lampeter, Ceredigion, is currently being developed by Bute Energy. With up to 40 wind turbines, it could generate up to 264MW of electricity, enough to power 174,000 to 251,000 homes per year. This amount of green energy has the potential to displace 258,000 to 373,000 million tonnes of CO₂ per year.

“The Green GEN Towy Teifi project proposes a new 132kV overhead line to connect Lan Fawr Energy Park to a new National Grid substation near Carmarthen, spanning approximately 52km. This new overhead line is vital for the region, and with the benefit of local strategic connections, could not only reduce pressure on the existing grid but also pave the way for sustainable heating solutions and electric vehicle rollout.

“A public consultation will run from Wednesday 24 January to Wednesday 6 March, featuring six public events for in-depth discussions and feedback opportunities. Green GEN Cymru is also asking for ideas on areas in the local communities along the route that people feel could benefit from investment from the Bute Energy Community Benefit Fund associated with the Lan Fawr Energy Park.

“This project isn’t just about infrastructure; it’s about investing in the future of rural Wales. For every MW of installed capacity, Bute Energy commits £7,500 to the Community Benefit Fund, a unique opportunity for communities along the Green GEN Towy Teifi route. This fund will help to create lasting impact locally ensuring that the benefits of our renewable energy projects are felt by communities across Wales.”

Climate emergency

Gareth Williams, Grid Director at Bute Energy, said: “In facing a climate emergency and cost-of-living crisis, it’s imperative that we act swiftly to harness Wales’ renewable energy potential. This project is more than infrastructure; it’s a commitment to ensuring that Welsh communities thrive in an electric future, with reduced reliance on fossil fuels and overseas energy providers.”

RenewableUK Cymru Director Jess Hooper said: “We have the potential to triple the amount of clean power produced from onshore wind if we can solve issues like the lack of grid connectivity. We welcome Green GEN Cymru working to tackle one of the biggest barriers standing in the way of our ability to deliver the clean, green energy Wales needs to transition away from fossil fuels and empower our economy, environment and communities.”

Mr Williams added: “The development is classified as a Development of National Significance in Wales, requiring a robust consultation process. We are at the first phase, inviting community input, with several more opportunities to engage in the coming months.”

“Culturally sensitive landscapes”

Adam Price, the MS for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, said: “There is a sense of urgency now to establish a clear policy framework for these developments. Undergrounding needs to be given clear status as the default method for these kinds of connections to the grid.

“The pace at which more developments are appearing runs a real risk that the Welsh Government will find themselves responding too late. We’ve seen a proposal for the Tywi, and now it seems the Teifi could follow suit – the local feeling has been clear on this matter and the Welsh Government must issue a policy directive to safeguard these culturally sensitive landscapes”.

The route of the proposal

Jenny Chryss, the campaign lead for the Powys-based group RE-think said:  “I couldn’t agree more with Adam Price in terms of landscape and the urgent need for a clear policy framework.   But it’s not just overground or underground power lines we are talking about here. Bute Energy and others are clearly intent on turning the southern half of Wales into one giant ‘energy park’.

“The Welsh Government has allowed this free for all through its Future Wales Plan.  The so-called ‘pre-assessed areas for wind’ identified in policy 17 are largely being ignored thanks to a get-out clause in policy 18 that developments must not have an ‘unacceptable adverse impact’ on the surrounding landscape.   Who is going to decide what is or is not unacceptable, with [regulators] PEDW and NRW clearly becoming overwhelmed by the number of applications?”

Scandal

“The infrastructure now being proposed overall is a scandal.  This isn’t a grid upgrade or of any benefit to Wales.  Like Green Gen Cymru’s other proposals it’s a new line for the benefit of one company that wants to sell the power it generates to the UK grid and charge others to do likewise.

“Wales is already moving towards meeting its energy targets through existing developments on and offshore, and others proposed in the Celtic Sea.  This part of the country, along with its inhabitants, is being sacrificed on the altar of financial greed.  How much of our environment is to be destroyed in order to contribute a tiny fraction of what’s needed to ‘save the environment’ elsewhere?

“We should be encouraging community renewable energy schemes that serve homes and businesses nearby, without miles of pylons in between, rather than huge industrial scale wind farms and pylon lines that will destroy livelihoods and the natural environment.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Updating Wales’ grid is essential if we are to have an energy system fit for purpose in the long term. Our planning policy states that wherever possible lines should be laid underground.”


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Catherine
Catherine
30 days ago

When it was coal we had to destroy our land for the Saesneg, when it was water villages and culture had to be drowned for the Saesneg…and now the Capitalists (who are friends of the Saesneg Establishment) have decided their is money in renewable energy our landscape must be torn up…. and who benefited from the coal and the water? Who will benefit from the profits from renewable energy? Do you see many millionaires living in the valleys? If you want to see Capel Celyn you had better hope for a drought.The richest person in North Wales is someone who… Read more »

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
30 days ago
Reply to  Catherine

They mined coal in England in exactly the same way as Wales Oh the water went to Lerpwl Prif Ddinas Cymru where north Walians went to escape the b*****d cerrig. Lloeger lle maer Cymru yn mynd to find hospitals and airports. Don’t forget that those Saeson you refer to include more people of Welsh heritage then Cymru.

Gareth
Gareth
30 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

I dont see youre point here. Are you saying we should be grateful that due to inadequate investment from the UK Gov, we should be happy to cross the border for hospitals, and that it is good to see Cardiff airport penalised to allow Bristol and Birmingham to have an advantage so we can travel further to get a flight. Because miners were treated badly in England we should also put up with it.?

Gareth
Gareth
30 days ago

Same cac different county, but it is the same country, Cymru, that will pay the price.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
30 days ago

Yet another way to rip off Wales while destroying the landscape. Wind farms are already a big blot on the Welsh landscape, ugly, noisy and very environmentally unfriendly. They don’t work unless its windy and the blades continuously break not to mention the impact on wildlife.
We are already the fifth biggest exporter of electricity in the world but our electricity bills are among the highest in the UK. So much for Welsh people gaining from Welsh electricity production. Politicians are taking us for a ride.

Robert
Robert
30 days ago

Looks like the photo has been photoshopped to minimise impact….. by Bute presumably

hdavies15
hdavies15
30 days ago

Our government must be seriously thick to consent to the continued destruction of habitat and industrialisation of rural environments without much, if any, reward returning to Wales. But they are not thick, they are well and truly bought by the big corporates who see “green” as just another way of profiteering at the expense of the people. And we are daft enough to put up with it.

Frank
Frank
30 days ago

Can you imagine if a network of pylons was proposed for the Cotswolds. God forbid!!

Lord Custard
Lord Custard
30 days ago
Reply to  Frank

There were wind turbines proposed for the Cotswolds and they voted it down! They are the epitome of ‘not in my back yard’!

Hogyn y Gogledd
Hogyn y Gogledd
30 days ago

The damage to the natural landscape is certainly an important reason to oppose these miles of pylons.

But the last few days and weeks should surely have shown that energy security in a time of increasingly stormy weather indicates undergrounding is the way to go,

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
30 days ago

Good point !

John Brooks
John Brooks
30 days ago

Uptick for Hogyn y Gogledd

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
30 days ago

I would agree with most of the posters in this column. It might be interesting for you to read the following article which highlights just how un-Welsh the developers are and how thaty have taken our Government for fools:

https://jacothenorth.net/blog/tag/bute-energy-ltd/

So any company trying to hype a Community Benefit Fund is essentailly saying, no we will take all the profit and leave you a few coppers.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
30 days ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Similar story on Ynys Mon…

Mandi A
Mandi A
30 days ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

We just went through all this convolution of “renewable energy” new companies with Orthios at the former Tinto plant in Holyhead. It all went bust big-time, it was never clear what the contract between Rio TInto and Orthios had been for the land. No-one would look into who the “mortgage holders” were despite them having been previously investigated for pensions fraud. The same people appear to have moved on to similar schemes in East Anglia. It was never clear whether the numbers of employees Orthios claimed were genuine. Then Egino appeared backed by WelshGov, the directors all drawn from the… Read more »

Lord Custard
Lord Custard
30 days ago

It’s time Wales got the benefit of wind and solar and not the English establishment !

Richard 1
Richard 1
30 days ago
Reply to  Lord Custard

and of our water

Anthony Marchment
Anthony Marchment
30 days ago

The article says there is a public consultation, but no reference is made of locations or dates.
Not very public !
It’s inevitable that electricity generation will have to use wind turbines as part of the balance and mix of generation sources.
All cabling should be underground – end of discussion

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
30 days ago

No to the wind turbines, we already have more than we need. There are plenty of (better) locations in lloegr to put them!

We should have local, community based generation supplying local need.

Definitely NO to the pylons. I agree with Adam Price, (although I would go further) underground should be the default and this should be set in law!

Tide turns
Tide turns
27 days ago

Onshore turbines and their pylon lines to export power to England are a blot on the landscape when they would only need a handful of offshore turbines to generate the same power. But then green gen and bute can’t compete with the offshore big boys and are only interested in where they can make their profits at the expense of rural people having to put up with the hideous pylon lines. Their blurb claims we need these pylons to transition to green energy and EV’s but these pylons are only exporting power, not bringing it back to homes, utter greenwashing!

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