Farmers protest against Wales wind farm plan

Farmers have joined a mass protest at the Senedd calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to halt a controversial power and wind energy plan that would swamp acres of prime farmland.

National Grid and Scottish Power want to run a 400kV cable with 50m high steel pylons through the Vyrnwy Valley from proposed wind farms in the uplands of Montgomeryshire to a 19-acre substation at either Abermule, near Newtown, or Cefn Coch.

Powys dairy farmer Jonathan Wilkinson is one of dozens of farmers affected by the proposals.

“I have calculated that I would have around five pylons on my farm. They would take away some of my most productive land but it’s the overall plan that most concerns me. The scale of what is planned dwarfs anything we have seen before in the UK. It will transform the whole of rural Montgomeryshire into one big power station,” says Mr Wilkinson, who runs a 250-cow herd at Dyffryn Farm, Meifod.

He acknowledges that the plan is a lucrative one for farmers on whose land the turbines would stand but he urges the farming community to stick together. Around 800 turbines would be erected on 10 sites, some standing 160m high. “Wind farms can be profitable for a landowner but pylons are nothing but a liability. I would urge the people who own the land on which these wind farms would be sited to think very carefully about the consequences of their actions on everyone in this area.”

Mr Wilkinson, vice-chairman of Montgomeryshire NFU, is asking the NFU Cymru Council to support a resolution calling on the Welsh government to review Tan (Technical Advice Note) 8, the policy which highlights seven areas across Mid and South Wales for wind farm development.

The Welsh Government insists it is “determined” to see Wales cut its carbon emissions and use more renewable energy.

“Our planning policy, informed by independent research, identifies seven areas for the development of wind farms to minimise the proliferation of large scale wind farms. We believe a small number of wind farms clustered in strategic areas is better than a large number of smaller wind farms across Wales,” said a spokesman.

National Grid is urging people to take part in the public consultation process which has been extended until 20 June.”

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