The Dyfnant Forest is to be developed into one of the largest wind farms in the country it has been revealed – just weeks after Rhodri Morgan told the County Times how Powys has got off scot free.
During his recent visit to Welshpool, First Minister for Wales Rhodri Morgan dismissed suggestions that Mid Wales is a dumping ground for wind turbines by claiming none of the plans to lease Forestry Commission managed land for the construction of wind farms fell inside Powys.
However, while claiming Powys had got off scot free, he failed to mention four sections of freehold Forestry Commission land earmarked for development in Powys – Dyfnant being the largest (see below for information on the others).
These claims have left a sour taste among residents and organisations in the Dyfnant Forest, who are now labelling Rhodri Morgan as either ‘ignorant or a liar.’
“This is a prime example of Rhodri Morgan having no idea where Powys is,” blasted Susan Wilkinson, vice chairman and health and safety advisor for the Dyfnant and Vyrnwy Horse Riders and Carriage Drivers Association.
“We now call on him to honour his statement made during his recent trip to Welshpool. We want the Dyfnant Forest to be excluded from the leasing process for wind farm development so the forests of Powys will remain ‘scot free’ of industrial wind farm development.
“If Rhodri Morgan cannot honour his pledge to the people of Powys then it once again indicates that Mid Wales is dumped upon by Cardiff.”
It is understood that at least 30 wind turbines, each two thirds the height of Blackpool Tower, are to be developed on the 22,000-acre site at Dyfnant.
One and half hectares of forest will have to be felled for every turbine that is erected. To erect over 30 turbines would decimate the landscape, including the Black Grouse and Pine Martin that inhabit part of the forest.
A large scale wind farm development would also have huge implications on a number of local businesses in the area, such as The Dyfnant and Vyrnwy Horse Riders and Carriage Drivers Association, near Lake Vyrnwy, which was formed in 2001 with funding from Welsh development, Money Adwyfiom and a grant from Llanfair and District Community.
Susan Wilkinson added: “We formed in 2001 as a regeneration community led project for the area in line with the ‘Woodlands for Wales Strategy’ and the ‘Saddling up for Success’ document commissioned by the Welsh Tourism board. Six years of hard work later and the Rainbow Trails were officially opened in June 2007.
“The Rainbow Trails are used by the whole community and many equestrians come from far away and stay in the area. A fortune has been spent on the forest for riding trails, including Assembly money, but because the application is for wind turbines over 50 mega watts it will be dealt with by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, bypassing Powys County Council and the Assembly.
“Thousands of pounds of European money has been invested here, but if this plan for turbines goes ahead it will become a wind farm ghetto and a place no tourists will want to visit.”
Aaron Fortt, for the Forestry Commission, said the forest fell within one of the strategic search areas identified for possible wind farm development by the Welsh Assembly Government.
He said: “The Forestry Commission manages the land for the Welsh Assembly Government and we are currently carrying out a procurement exercise for the Assembly to find the best energy company prior to a planning application being submitted.”
The County Times believes development on the Dyfnant Forest is imminent and the preferred bidder has come from a Spanish company called Iberdrola.
By Richard Jones
16 February 2008
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