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Mid Wales in revolt over pylon invasion

Councillors in Powys are demanding an urgent review of the Welsh Government’s wind farm policy.

It follows widespread protests against plans for almost 100 miles of giant pylons – and a 19-acre substation – to connect wind turbines to the UK’s power network.

Campaigners fear the “industrialisation” of the Welsh uplands and Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies has warned of a mass exodus of farmers and rural residents.

Now Montgomeryshire councillors David Jones and Graham Brown have submitted a motion calling on the Welsh Government to conduct a full review of its renewable energy policy guidance to planning authorities.

The debate by Powys County Council will be heard on June 29 at Welshpool livestock market, where a building is being converted into a makeshift debating chamber.

Powys council’s ruling group is pressing for a fresh look at all aspects of Tan 8, including the implications for transportation, the environment, health and construction in the county.

It follows claims the Welsh Government “rushed through” its TAN8 announcement in 2004 just 11 days before the deadline – before proper environmental scrutiny.

The administration’s secretary, Cllr Dawn Bailey said: “The Welsh Government must listen to what the general public and their elected representatives are saying, or risk a very real loss of trust in mid Wales.”

Hostility to new wind farms in Mid Wales has gathered pace since plans were unveiled for the substation and pylons, some measuring 154ft (47m).

About 1,500 people gathered for a protest in Welshpool in April, and a similar number in Cardiff Bay last month, where they were joined by four people who had walked from Welshpool.

Campaigners have threatened to dump muck at the Senedd, others say they will defy the law.

They include wildlife broadcaster Iolo Williams, who lives near Abermule, one of the proposed sites for the new substation.

He grew up in Llanwddyn, near Lake Vyrnwy – one of the routes now being considered for high-voltage cables from Cefn Coch to the grid in Shropshire.

He has declared he would take direct action against the plans.

“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,” he said.

Other high-profile opponents include Weather presenter Siân Lloyd and Jane Ashley, daughter of fashion designer Laura Ashley.

An e-Petition launched on the Welsh Assembly website has so far gathered more than 2,600 signatures from people calling for a re-think of TAN 8.

It closes at midday today, as does a residents survey by Welshpool Town Council. A National Grid consultation on the plans ends on June 20.

The figurehead for the protests is local MP Glyn Davies, who said farmers fear a drop in the value of their holdings.

He said: “People don’t appreciate the sheer scale of the proposals yet. Perhaps the biggest impact will be on the transport system.

“Major roads could end up being completely blocked as the pylons and turbines are brought in. The disruption could last for years.”