More than 1,500 protesters turned out in force yesterday on the steps of the Senedd to protest against plans for 50m-high wind turbines and pylons.
The noisy rally in Cardiff Bay included 35 coachloads from across Wales who descended on the home of the Welsh Government armed with three petitions signed by 14,000 people.
They were demonstrating in a bid to ensure politicians and the public know about the controversial TAN8 (Technical Advice Note) policy – the 2005 policy that defines seven areas suitable for wind turbines.
It was part of the UK Government’s energy policy to increase the amount of energy from renewable sources to 10%. Wales has exceeded this and produces about 13%.
But campaigners fear TAN8 could now see plans for hundreds of wind turbines and pylons, some measuring 154ft high (47m) become a reality across Mid and West Wales into England.
Those who gathered passionately sang the Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, and the hymn Calon Lan.
They were accompanied by singer John Hughes, who lives in one of the communities which could be affected by the plans for a 20-acre substation plus 100 miles of power cables carried on 50m-high pylons linking 800 wind turbines in Powys to the National Grid.
Many are upset such development will turn the landscape into an eyesore.
Politicians from the four main parties in Mid and West Wales, including Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies, addressed the crowd.
He said: “If the Assembly Members who are here now allow this project to go ahead we want them to know that in half a century they will be remembered.”
Weather presenter Sian Lloyd added: “Some people in this rather attractive building here [the Senedd] want to destroy magnificent Mid Wales.
“Are we going to let them turn rural Wales into one gigantic power plant?”
Sally Herbert-Jones travelled to Cardiff from Shropshire, with her two sons and her neighbour, to show her support for the Conservation of Upland Powys activists.
She said: “We have to support our friends from Montgomeryshire Against the Pylons – we were only told about the plans for the pylons in Shropshire about 10 weeks ago.
“Another concern for us, apart from these eyesores, is that we live on a flood-plain and if these wind turbines are built, then the extra concrete in the ground will cause us problems when it rains.”
Opponents to the planned developments state that the area earmarked includes sites of historical importance, such as Rhyd Chwima (where the treaty that forced Edward I to recognise Llywelyn III as Tywysog Cymru was signed) and Mathrafal, which is the royal seat of the Princes of Powys and the ancestral lands of warrior prince Owain Glyndr.
Sian Ifan, from the Embassy Glyndr campaign group, travelled from Swansea to lend her support amid concerns that Glyndr’s ancestral land would be affected.
She said: “We’ve been very concerned about the rise of wind farms. This can’t be done to our motherland. Imagine if your mother had acid thrown in her face – it’s the same as what they are doing to our country.
“This protest is showing the Welsh Government that we won’t allow the windmills and pylons to be installed in Mid Wales.”
Five protesters from Welshpool showed their commitment to halting the project and TAN8’s implementation by walking 120 miles to Cardiff in five days.
One of them, Ifan Davies farms in the area through which the 100 miles of pylons could cut.
There are four wind farms around Ifan’s family home near Welshpool and it’s a “beautiful” landscape Ifan says he doesn’t want to see ruined any further.
Llyr Davies also walked to Cardiff. He works for the National Trust in England but returned to Wales to support the cause.
He said Mid Wales’ sparse population was the reason the 100 miles of pylons were planned for the area.
The Welsh Government said it was “determined to see Wales cut its carbon emissions and use more renewable energy”.
A spokesman added: “As well as wind – biomass, marine and micro generation sources, all have their part to play. 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.”
He said all wind farm planning applications were subject to a strict planning process which considered “their impact on the environment, and local community”.
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