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Opinion

YesCymru: ‘this wealth piracy must stop’

29 Apr 2023 4 minute read
Proposed solar farm development near Llyn Traffwll, Ynys Môn and Gwern Gwynfil

Gwern Gwynfil, CEO YesCymru

For centuries, wealth and value has been extracted from Wales. An insidious and subversive form of institutionalised economic piracy which we have become so familiar with that it barely registers anymore.

It happens at every level, from the micro to the macro. We’re all familiar with absentee landlords extracting rental income from Wales with no benefit whatsoever to the people of Wales, and in the case of holiday lets, often with significant negative impacts on the quality of life, daily realities and sustainability of local communities.

Less visible is the way in which our natural resources continue to be farmed for the benefit of those outside our borders.

Take the example of Low Carbon Ltd, a business recently granted consent to cover 150 acres of Ynys Môn in solar panels. The consent given despite strong local objections, on the grounds that the solar farm will have a negative impact on their landscape.

Whilst we must applaud the generation of renewable and sustainable energy in Wales it must be unacceptable that this comes at a cost to Welsh communities.

Unless the benefits of these developments can be felt at the local level then why on earth should they accept the costs?

No doubt there will be some token community payments to satisfy the corporate social responsibility goals of the company, but these are crumbs thrown towards the local community whilst the tasty, freshly baked bread is whisked away, never to be seen again.

Community assets

Why don’t we have a system in place where the community which houses this solar farm gets most or all of the benefit from it?

After all, it is a static installation, which will essentially generate a passive income with minimal maintenance – there is no reason whatsoever why such developments shouldn’t be structured as community assets.

The reality in this case, if you follow the trail on Companies House through a number of company vehicles, is that the beneficial owners of the solar farm are four individuals, with a nominal address in Exeter, two recorded as UK residents, one resident in England and the last in Jersey.

We should not judge Dr Dixon, Mr Bedlow, Mr Williamson and Mr Woodcock. After all they are investing capital in a sustainable future for their own profit. Making hay with Welsh sunshine.

On the other hand, we should be scathing about a system that has developed which enables such profit extraction from Wales. Allowing positive gains and value to leave the country whilst the people of Wales are negatively impacted.

If this angers you then consider what will soon be happening on a much grander scale as the Crown Estates auction off the rights to build huge floating wind farms in the Celtic Sea.

Within a few years these farms will be generating billions in revenue for the Treasury and billions in income and profit for the (non-Welsh) companies which will have built them.

Wales will yet again get some meagre crumbs from the table. Yes, there will be some employment in Wales as a result but the substantive wealth will all be leaving Wales.

Reaping the benefits

This is a story repeated endlessly across Wales, at a cost to us as individuals and as a nation. Be it housing, solar, water or wind, somewhere in a neighbourhood near you, somebody else is reaping the benefits.

A story constantly reinvented as Wales becomes a source of the wealth of the time, whether that is coal or water or nature. A story that needs to end so that we can write our own story as we stride confidently into the future.

We will always be farmed extensively within the extractive economic model which is hard wired into our relationship with Westminster and the Union.

They tell us we can’t afford to be an independent nation. Is it because they don’t want this goose that lays their golden eggs to leave? Are they simply against Wales taking charge of its own wealth for the benefit of its own people?

This must change and Independence is that change. Let’s make sure that Wales and the people who live in Wales are the first to benefit from what we have to offer.

When we sell our water, our energy, our skills and our services to the world, let us make sure that the wealth and income generated funds Wales.

Let us make sure that an ever-increasing cycle of positive growth and improvement will increase our skills, improve our quality of life and that our wellbeing will climb to new heights.


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Frank
Frank
1 year ago

Good article. The problem is that the majority of Cymry couldn’t give a hoot. As long as they have a pint, a kebab and a game of rugby they are quite happy for outsiders to rob us blind. The wealth that has left Cymru in the form of coal, gold, slate, copper etc. could have made our country the wealthiest in Britain. We could have been the Dubai of the north. Unfortunately, the Cymry could not stick together if they tried as there are outside forces constantly and actively making sure that a division exists within the nation. They do… Read more »

Ivor Schilling
Ivor Schilling
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank

Absolutely right. Well expressed too. This issue of ‘divide and conquer’ is one of the positive reasons that the British State allows for such high levels of mass migration into Britain. They know that it turns working class people into right wing Tory-voters, and turns Welsh voters away from Welsh national issues and towards a broader defence of their communities, culture and way of life. The author of the above article doesn’t seem to realise this. The lovely flowery feelings fluttering around the cozy notion of the ‘Nation of Sanctuary’ actually carry within them the seeds of a massive program… Read more »

Phil
Phil
1 year ago

He seems to be advocating Welsh sunlight for Welsh people.
Now that’s a difficult one to deal with!

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
1 year ago

Colonialism is still alive and kicking in Wales. The UK’s wealth came from resources stripped from other countries, it is still happening in Wales. Wales was the first country to be exploited. Look at the South Wales valleys, for example, vast amounts of coal was shipped out, little of the money generated was invested in the communities doing the hard labour and when production was no longer deemed viable and stopped, the communities were left to rot. It’s still happening, it won’t stop until we gain independence. Enough is Enough.

Finn
Finn
1 year ago

As Alexander Cordell said rape of a fair country exploited and robbed by the English government then and now .

David Davies
David Davies
1 year ago
Reply to  Finn

When I read the information on this site it makes me laugh. Wales as an independent country would be 3rd world. Where would all the money come from, tourist tax? Again, I’ll state, too much money is wasted for wants rather than needs, in Walles. Money should be directed to Health and Education first and then we would have the start of a functional country, not waiting for 4 hours to reply to a stoke emergency or 12 hours for a broken hip. As a nation Wales does not have a great deal to export, Solar is a joke, wind… Read more »

Frank
Frank
1 year ago
Reply to  David Davies

David, have you been to any Welsh surgeries, A&E, outpatients’ clinics or as a hospital patient recently? My wife and I are not in the best of health and, unfortunately, we spend a lot of time in doctors’ surgery and hospitals. These places are jammed to the rafters with cross-border and foreign patients. The Welsh NHS is bursting at the seams because of this. Incomers are moving in here by the bus load and their first port of call is to register with the Welsh NHS. I can only hope that the FM is claiming extra cash for this. As… Read more »

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
11 months ago

I fail to really see how Wales is going to make a fortune out of water. The Severn and, to a smaller extent, Dee are common catchments. Severn Trent serves many Welsh customers (and charges them the same rates as the English ones). I know this, my dad spent most of his career with them (as an aside he met Gareth Edwards of Rugby and fishing fame as a result, Edwards worked for Welsh Water and they were at an event). Anyway I digress. If Wales is to profit from water that isn’t going to flow naturally into English communities… Read more »

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