23/10/2012 Taro Naw


23/10/2012

Mae perygl i gynlluniau i godi ffermydd gwynt yn y canolbarth rwygo rhai o gymunedau Sir Drefaldwyn. There’s a danger that plans to develop wind farms and pylons in Mid Wales will split communities in Montgomeryshire.


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Transcript


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Plans to build more of these are causing disagreement...

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..in the Montgomeryshire area.

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Those who protest against wind energy are threatening those in favour...

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..thereby dividing the community.

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Put simply, I feel intimidated.

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Subtitles

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Subtitles

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A familiar scene in mid Wales.

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There are several wind farms here already.

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In the past five years...

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..there's been a rise applications for planning permission for more.

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Developers are following the lead of the Welsh Government...

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..that Powys is a suitable location for them.

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Above Llanfair Caereinion...

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..a turbine is awaiting connection to the National Grid.

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Aled Morris is the owner and he and his brother, Gwyn...

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..like many other farmers in Montgomeryshire...

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..see payment from wind energy as a business venture.

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There aren't many options around here.

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There won't be any golf courses or anything up here.

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There's plenty of wind up here...

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..and one turbine on the farm will be a big help...

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..to keep things going over the coming years.

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But he's aware that some are opposed to having turbines on the land...

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..and want to persuade farmers not to be tempted.

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They put my brother's mobile phone number on Facebook...

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..and told people to contact him to tell him how evil he is.

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There's one turbine on the farm.

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Commercial companies are behind the biggest schemes...

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..but there are several smaller developments by local farmers.

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They feel that money is what angers many.

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Some of it is down to jealousy. There is some of that sometimes.

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In what way?

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If I can't have it, why should someone else?

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Some say Powys is familiar with turbines like these.

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The Carno Wind Farm was built in 1996.

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Since then, their technology and size have changed a lot.

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In the fog and rain on this common ground...

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..one of Wales's latest wind farms is being built...

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..on Mynydd y Betws between the Amman Valley and Cwmtawe.

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After completion...

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..these turbines will be more like those planned for mid Wales.

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They will be 110 metres tall at the highest point.

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That's taller than some of Wales's tallest buildings...

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..like Meridien Quay in Swansea and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

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There are currently seven wind farms in mid Wales...

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..with 267 turbines on them.

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Powys Council officials say there are plans for 23 more sites...

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..with some having already obtained planning permission...

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..and the rest are in the planning process.

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If they all go ahead, there could be more than 800 new turbines in Powys.

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That's as well as 73 individual turbines on farms...

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..which have already been approved.

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'No wind farms. No wind farms.'

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Llandrindod and police monitor a protest...

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..outside a Powys Council meeting...

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..to discuss three applications for large wind farms.

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The plans have angered many and they're showing it.

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Near Llanfair Caereinion, Buddug Bates and her husband...

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..former AM Mick Bates, are in favour of wind power.

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She's concerned that the intensity of feeling is dividing the community.

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If you are not completely opposed to wind power and turbines...

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..there's almost something wrong with you.

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It's like you're ignorant or insane.

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We're scared to say anything in favour or renewable energy.

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I had a horrible experience in Meifod at an exhibition.

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I was almost attacked, only my daughter was with me.

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The last time I went to Llanfair Caereinion...

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..the National Assembly knew about this...

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..they asked me if I was happy to go out to the car on my own...

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..or did I want someone to escort me.

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She thinks the bad feeling...

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..and people's behaviour towards each other will affect communities.

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It certainly has an effect.

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You're almost thinking who you should avoid in certain areas.

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It's that kind of thing.

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Although he says he won't benefit financially...

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..this man welcomes the energy plans.

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He doesn't want to say that publicly as the opposers are so vociferous.

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The anti-pylon group are very strong in these meetings...

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..to the extent that they can completely disrupt them.

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They're in front of you, arguing with you.

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I know of someone who was confronted.

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Someone came up to them and said they'd heard...

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..they were going to have a turbine on their farm...

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..and that they were clearly acceptingmoney for it.

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As if there was something wrong in doing that.

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Taro Naw has spoken to many wind farm supporters...

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..who fear saying so in public meetings...

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..because of the behaviour of some protestors.

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I think those against are in the minority.

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only when you oppose something do you tend to rant and rave.

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But on the whole, I'd say opinion is either in favour...

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..or indifferent either way.

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And yet people refuse to speak openly and are frightened of the minority.

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Yes, that's right. We are frightened.

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You don't want to turn up to be frightened and intimidated.

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Life is too short for that.

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But with so many anti wind farm campaign groups having been set up...

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..there are clearly councillors who do represent those opinions.

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'Out of date. Out of date.'

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1,500 people travelled from mid Wales to Cardiff...

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..to protest last year.

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There are now protests outside almost all meetings...

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..related to energy and the National Grid.

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One of the most familiar groups is MAP - Montgomeryshire Against Pylons.

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They argue more pylons won't be needed...

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..if wind farm development is halted.

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I'm sorry if there's a feeling of abuse...

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.. but that abuse is felt on both sides.

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We are, certainly here, in the Efyrnwy Valley, in a situation...

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..that we've had something foisted on us unexpectedly...

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..over which we have very, very little control.

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What we'd like to have is a reasoned dialogue...

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..with farmers, landowners who are looking to develop.

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Do you think it's reasonable...

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..to put telephone numbers and names on the internet, on Facebook?

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I think that the people who are looking to develop...

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..do so for their own reasons and I think it is reasonable to allow...

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..people to engage in a dialogue...

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..with people who are seeking to develop...

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..and they shouldn't feel difficult about having that dialogue.

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MAP does include individuals with many differing opinions...

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..some more extreme than others.

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Some people feel that a more robust response is appropriate. I don't.

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Taking direct action?

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I don't know, I haven't had that said to me...

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..but the feeling is there, I think.

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If this campaign... How can I put this?

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If we fail in our ability to stop National Grid...

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..and stop this development, I'm pretty sure that public feeling...

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..is so strong, people will feel so desperate...

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..that they'll feel they have no other option.

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If a number of wind farms are approved...

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..the National Grid is obliged to ensure...

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..a sufficient electricity supply is extended to mid Wales.

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In June, the Grid announced that an electricity sub-station...

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..would be built outside in a village outside Montgomeryshire.

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The scheme includes the building of 30 miles of pylons...

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..or underground wiring to connect Cefn Coch and Oswestry.

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It's part of a £200 billion investment needed in Britain...

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..to expand the energy network by 2020.

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People don't like buying houses, especially historic ones...

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..with something like pylons going around or over or in front.

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In the Vyrnwy Valley, near Llansantffriad-Ym-Mechain...

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..this house is 400 years old and is registered with Cadw.

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It's also in the planned path of National Grid's new pylons.

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We don't want to fight for our cause in our own back yard...

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..and say it has to go down the Severn Valley.

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That's not the response of the people of Montgomeryshire.

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I think the people of Montgomeryshire have looked at it...

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..and said if this was sensible, if it would genuinely save the world...

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..and it was effective, we would accept it.

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But it isn't effective.

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The accusation has been made repeatedly that you don't want...

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Yes, NIMBY.

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..in your area.

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But I don't want to prostitute this area...

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..allow foreign landowners, firms and politicians to do that.

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As well as support from the Government...

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..to encourage the development of wind energy...

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..the campaigners are concerned about the height of the turbines.

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Llandinam wind farm is one of the oldest in Britain.

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It was opened in 1992 and at one time there were more turbines...

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..on this site, 103, than any other site in Britain.

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These are around 45 metres high...

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..and they produce around 31 megawatt of energy.

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The aim is to treble the amount of energy that's produced here...

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..by demolishing the 103 and replacing them with 39.

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The new turbines would be taller, but not as tall as the ones...

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..that have been recommended in another part of Powys.

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There are seven wind farms in Mid Wales at the moment...

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..and 23 new ones are in the planning system.

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That, as well as the network of pylons to carry electric wire...

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..that would be needed, has caused discontent.

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There's a wonderful view in the hills near Llanfair Caereinion...

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..towards Llanerfyl and Dyfnant Forest.

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The National Grid is intending to place turbines...

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..across this landscape.

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Through the Efyrnwy Valley and in the direction of England.

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This tourism business, which includes an old farm house...

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..and 12 holiday cottages benefits from the area's beauty.

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At the end of a wet September...

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..these two from Devon have come here on holiday.

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Every year, the area attracts thousands of similar visitors.

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If you go on our website...

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..we market Graig Farm as "peace and quiet".

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A chill-out zone.

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There is very beautiful scenery in the area.

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I want to try and keep that.

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We're not sure how much of an affect it will have.

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I don't think it's ever been assessed.

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I'm willing to stand here and say it won't affect our business.

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But it'll be too late then to put things in place...

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..to help businesses that could be closed in 10 years.

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People who live near the new line of pylons...

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..are worried the plans will reduce house prices.

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According to the estate agents we've talked to...

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..it seems that's already happening.

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It can have an affect of anything from no affect...

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..up to as much as 40% of the market value...

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..especially if they're close to the pylon route.

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People buy property in our area...

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..because they want green fields, forests and trees.

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They don't want to be looking at metal pylons.

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Several purchasers have pulled out of properties...

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..because of the uncertainty over where the pylon route would go.

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They're not willing to take the risk.

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But some beautiful areas of Wales...

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..have had electric pylons for decades.

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In Snowdonia, there are several popular attractions...

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..that can't avoid the shadow of the metal towers...

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..including the village of Portmeirion.

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The Brynteg Holiday Park is in Llanrug near Caernarfon.

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It's a stone's throw away from several pylons...

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..but the managers say there have been no complaints.

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They haven't affected this park.

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They were here before the park...

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..and nobody has said anything about them.

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They seem natural to us because they've always been there.

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It would be better for everyone if they were underground...

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..but they're here and if they work, why not leave them?

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Further along this pylon path...

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..are some of the area's most striking views in Ceinant...

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..looking down at the Menai and the town of Caernarfon.

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This woman has been enjoying the view for almost 50 years...

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..and has lived in this house since before the pylons were built.

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The first thing I see in the morning are the boats in Holyhead.

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I've sold it two or three times...

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..but I've changed my mind because I don't want to leave.

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Nobody said anything about these.

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Near Llanberis, a part of the village is overshadowed by pylons.

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This house is close to two of them.

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When it was built in the '80s, the pylons were already there.

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Rhian Thomas was brought up here and remembers moving to the house.

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I was 15 and I thought it was big.

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But as soon as the house was built and we were in...

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..you didn't hear any noise.

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When it rains or it's damp, you hear crackling.

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But apart from that, you wouldn't know it's there.

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Her parents have no intention to move...

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..and Rhian's not worried about her children spending time...

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..so close to electricity wires.

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But her friends reacted differently when they saw the place.

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They said it was big...

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..and if it was raining, they'd ask what the noise was.

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But after that, they got used to it.

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In Powys, the county council has already rejected applications...

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..for five new wind farms this year.

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That will lead to public and expensive investigations.

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The UK Government's energy department has the authority...

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..to reject or approve developments...

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..that produce more than 50 megawatts of energy.

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Near Llanwddyn and Lake Vyrnwy, these conifer trees...

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..are part of Dyfnant Forest.

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The Forestry Commission controls it, a body that's about to join...

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..the Environment Agency and the Countryside Council.

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So the real owners are the Welsh Government...

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..and some of these trees will make way to around 35 turbines.

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The initial plans emphasise that some of the turbines...

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..could be 185 metres high.

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That's over 600 feet.

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That's seven times taller than some of the trees that grow here.

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Scottish Power Renewables has the contract to build the wind farm...

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..but the Spanish company, Iberdrola, owns Scottish Power.

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Many believe this row wouldn't have emerged...

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..if it wasn't for planning policy and a document called TAN 8...

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..that was published in 2005.

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The Environment Minister at the time was Carwyn Jones...

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..who's now the First Minister.

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TAN 8 noted seven areas the Government believes...

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..are suitable for development.

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It was also meant to offer leadership to local authorities...

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..on what should be considered when decisions were made...

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..on planning applications for wind farms.

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But Taro Naw has spoken to several of the local authorities...

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..that were involved in the process.

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One former senior official says the document was a fait accompli.

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There was agreement...

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..that the Government's consultation wasn't sufficient.

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TAN 8 doesn't consider how rural roads would cope...

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..with big lorries carrying turbine parts.

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There's also been little consideration...

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..as to how to connect this energy to the Grid.

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Iwan Evans was a Chief Planning Officer in Gwynedd seven years ago.

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He agrees that the consultation was not thorough enough.

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There was a consultation.

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How much attention was paid to comments made by individuals...

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..I'm not completely sure.

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There wasn't much difference between the draft and final versions.

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Some say the final version was pushed through...

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..more quickly to avoid carrying out an environmental assessment...

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..on the final version before environmental rules and laws...

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..came into being in 2005.

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The TAN 8 final document was passed before those rules were enforceable.

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According to TAN 8...

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..three areas in mid Wales were suitable for wind farms.

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It was an effective means of attracting...

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..big business and local developers.

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While discussing the policy with the Welsh Government...

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..several planning officers predicted problems.

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Not everyone agreed.

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It didn't matter if some disagreed...

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..it was a Government matter to form a policy.

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As Carwyn Jones was Wales's Environment Minister...

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..who introduced the controversial TAN 8 policy in 2005...

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..we were keen to interview him but he refused.

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While preparing this programme, it was suggested to me...

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..that the First Minster was advised not to be interviewed on the subject.

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But this situation exists in Powys because TAN 8 earmarked three areas..

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..to develop wind energy here in mid Wales.

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A number of people have told Taro Naw that they too...

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..would like to meet face-to-face with Carwyn Jones...

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..to discuss their concerns.

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A hundred miles of pylons and 20 acre sub-station...

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At last year's show in Builth Wells...

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..members of MAP invited the First Minister to Powys to meet them.

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Why don't you come to Montgomeryshire?

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I'll make a deal. You get the UK Government there...

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A year later, the campaigners are still waiting.

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During the past 15 months, Carwyn Jones has said...

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.. it's unnecessary to overdevelop mid Wales.

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But he then said that the National Grid's plans should be supported.

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The local AM feels he should respond publicly...

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..to allegations against TAN 8 and admits his view is confusing.

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After going there with protesters last year...

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..he made a statement, and I agreed with and welcomed what he said.

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But after returning to discussions with the companies...

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..he changed his mind.

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Now he's hiding and won't talk.

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Go and interview him now, on this programme.

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Where is he, under the desk? He won't talk at all.

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He agrees that TAN 8 was agreed before consultation.

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Carwyn Jones wanted to be seen doing something.

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He wanted to look the big man. He wanted to launch his new policy.

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It was decided before they spoke to anyone.

0:22:190:22:22

Some campaigners have told Taro Naw they would be prepared...

0:22:230:22:27

..to take their protest a stage further...

0:22:270:22:30

..to stop developments in Powys.

0:22:300:22:32

Do you fear there will be violence?

0:22:320:22:34

Some have suggested to me that they would respond with violence.

0:22:350:22:38

Well, people can lose their tempers.

0:22:390:22:42

But no, it's a gentle area.

0:22:430:22:45

But there is a danger that if the turbines and pylons were approved...

0:22:460:22:50

..that the response would be angry.

0:22:500:22:53

I think if every other avenue is exhausted...

0:22:530:22:55

..and our peaceful campaign fails...

0:22:560:22:58

..I can almost guarantee that there will be a degree of civil unrest.

0:22:590:23:03

Gwyn Morris is waiting to hear whether he'll get permission...

0:23:040:23:08

..for one turbine on his farm next door to his brother's.

0:23:080:23:12

Although he won't change his mind, he thinks the protests...

0:23:120:23:15

..are already affecting some farmers.

0:23:160:23:18

I'm sure there are, when you see this hysteria against these pylons.

0:23:180:23:23

Yes, they've backed off, thought twice.

0:23:230:23:27

Others predicting that communities will divide...

0:23:270:23:31

..and be weary of attending public meetings in the future...

0:23:310:23:34

..because of the way the protesters make them feel.

0:23:340:23:38

Uncomfortable, certainly uncomfortable.

0:23:390:23:41

That's not how is used to be here.

0:23:420:23:45

Mae perygl i gynlluniau i godi ffermydd gwynt yn y canolbarth rwygo rhai o gymunedau Sir Drefaldwyn. Yn ôl amryw sydd o blaid y cynlluniau, mae ymddygiad rhai sy’n protestio yn eu herbyn yn eu gwneud nhw’n ofnus o ddangos eu cefnogaeth i ynni gwynt. Mae Taro Naw wedi a siarad â nifer sydd ofn mynegi barn yn gyhoeddus, ac mae na bryder am effaith hir-dymor y rhwyg ar rai o gymunedau’r ardal.Mae na wrthwynebiad cryf i’r cynlluniau i godi tri ar hugain fferm wynt newydd yn yr ardal. Fe aeth mil a hanner o drigolion y canolbarth i Gaerdydd i brotestio y llynedd. Ond pryder rhai o drigolion Powys yw bod llais y rhai sy’n cefnogi’r cynlluniau yn cael ei foddi oherwydd natur y protestio yn erbyn. There’s a danger that plans to develop wind farms and pylons in Mid Wales will split communities in Montgomeryshire. According to several of those in favour of the plans, the behaviour and attitude of some protesters makes them afraid to show their support for wind energy. Taro Naw has spoken to people who are afraid of expressing their interest publicly, and there are fears for the long term impact of the split on some of the area’s communities.There is strong opposition to plans to build 23 new wind farms in the area. Last year 1,500 people travelled from Mid Wales to Cardiff to protest. But some people from Powys are worried that the voices of those who support the plans are not being heard because of the nature of opposition protests. Transmitted on 23/10/12 at 9pm.


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