There will be a mass exodus of farmers and country dwellers from an ancient Welsh county if plans to industrialise its unspoilt countryside go ahead, it was claimed last night.
Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies said many farmers he has spoken to fear a drop in the value of both their farms and their land if proposals by National Grid for a 20-acre substation and 100 miles of power cables and pylons go ahead in his rural constituency.
Mr Davies said: “There will be a significant change in the population if the proposed scheme to connect up to 800 windfarms to the National Grid goes ahead.
“Many people have moved here simply because of the benefits of a natural landscape.
“So they will obviously move out in their droves if that landscape changes.
“Granted, some farmers could be made millionaires overnight with a grants bonanza but there will be a lot more losers.
“People don’t appreciate the sheer scale of the proposals yet; the upheaval will be the equivalent of the gas pipeline that caused many protests across South Wales a few years ago.
“However, the gas pipeline was vital, whereas the destruction of the countryside that would be brought about by the huge pylons and cables would be for a minimal energy benefit.”
He said he believes the pylons scheme would only bring about limited change to some farming methods.
“The underground cabling option, although much better visually, would actually have more of an impact on farming methods and part of Offa’s Dyke would certainly have to be disturbed,” said Mr Davies, who organised protests attended by 2,000 campaigners in both Welshpool and Cardiff in the spring.
“But perhaps the biggest impact of all will be on the transport system of Mid Wales,” he said. “Major roads could end up being completely blocked as the pylons and turbines are brought in and this disruption could literally last years,” he warned.
“The people of Montgomeryshire will remain totally against these plans until the last.”
He said he is calling on Powys County Council to have a detailed transport plan for the whole area of wind farm development before planning permission for the substation arrives with them.
Jane Ashley, the daughter of fashion designer Laura Ashley who built her global empire from a base in Montgomeryshire, is also opposed to the scheme.
Miss Ashley, who grew up in Montgomeryshire, urged people to keep on fighting the proposals.
“I am anti-windfarms being built in such tranquil places and I think these proposals should be opposed with all our hearts,” she said.
Wildlife broadcaster Iolo Williams has already said he would be prepared to take “direct action” against plans to build hundreds of giant pylons and a substation in picturesque Mid Wales.
Iolo Williams who lives near Abermule, Powys, one of the proposed sites for a 20-acre substation to harvest electricity from new windfarms, grew up in Llanwddyn, near Lake Vyrnwy.
The wildlife haven is one of the routes being considered for high-power cables from Cefn Coch to the National Grid connection in Shropshire.
“I am quite willing to take direct action in protest against wind farms and pylons,” said Mr Williams, who has travelled the world to investigate how manmade threats are destroying habitats and wildlife populations.
“Mid Wales is a fantastic area to live and people are not going to want to come here to live and visit if we have pylons, which ruin the landscape.
“These plans really are a disgrace.
“The people who are proposing these windfarms and associated infrastructure works don’t live here and are only interested in money.
“They couldn’t give a damn about local people.”
Weather presenter, Siân Lloyd who also has a home in Montgomeryshire with her husband Jonathan Ashman, has also threatened direct action over the scheme.
National Grid says the scheme is needed to meet future energy demands.