Up to 2,000 protesters last night urged National Assembly members to halt plans to build hundreds of massive pylons through the centre of a scenic valley in Mid Wales.
More than 700 people have signed petitions against the plans by National Grid, which wants to route a 400,000-volt cable through the flood-prone Powys countryside to connect 10 planned wind farms to the National Grid.
And Glyn Davies, Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, said he was so strongly opposed to the plans that he organised last night’s protest meeting at Welshpool Livestock Market and was delighted with the turnout which he said “far exceeded” expectations.
Mr Davies has now indicated that those against the plans will organise a mass protest against the plans at the Assembly in Cardiff following May’s election due to the strength of feeling against the plans, warning that if they went ahead with the plans that “the Assembly Government would never be forgiven by the people of Mid Wales”.
He said the cable would either use 46-metre-high pylons across 26 miles or be routed underground. The project is expected to be completed by 2015.
Plans also include a power substation being built in either Abermule, near Newtown, or Cefn Coch, near Llanfair Caereinion in Powys, covering about 19 acres of rolling countryside.
At the meeting he stressed that responsibility for whether the pylons go up or not lies “absolutely” with AMs.
“There have been a lot of concerns raised by the people of Montgomeryshire about these crazy plans,” he said.
“The new wind farms and substation cables would destroy the landscape of Mid Wales for no significant benefit whatsoever at a cost of literally millions or even billions of pounds, which is a huge waste of public money.
“National Grid maintains that there is no proof that pylons can cause any health problems, which is the most worrying aspect of the plan for many protesters. But there have been studies that suggest that they do contribute to child leukaemia and other forms of cancers.”
Mr Davies said he is hugely concerned about the sheer destruction of such a large area of such natural beauty.
“These pylons and onshore wind turbines are just follies, that show how Government can get things wrong,” he said.
“In 20 years’ time we will look back and wonder why they appeared at all, like we do now with the tower blocks of the 1960s. However, the placing of the pylons or cables and substations in Mid Wales is not a fait accompli.”
Alison Davies, of the campaign group Conservation of Upland Montgomeryshire, claimed that more than 10 wind farms were in the pipeline, which she said could mean mid Wales has 800 turbines.
And the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) said feelings over the proposals in Powys were now at “boiling point”.
CPRW director Peter Ogden said: “We warned everyone more than five years ago that this would happen, when the Assembly Government cherry-picked massive areas of Mid Wales uplands and proposed they were ripe for wind farm development.
“These substation and power line proposals potentially represent a shameful and depressing epilogue for Mid Wales’ landscapes and the death knell scenes of the Welsh Assembly Government’s disgraceful and short-sighted onshore wind theatrical comedy of errors.”
A National Grid spokesman said: “It is critical that the UK can overcome a potential energy shortfall and generate enough electricity to meet the needs of individuals and businesses.
“Mid Wales has been identified as an important location for new renewable energy.”
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