The site of Owain Glyndwr’s first victory against the English should be a “national monument” and not be spoiled by a wind farm, the Cambrian Mountains Society said yesterday.
Activists gathered in Westminster to condemn proposals to erect 64 wind turbines in Mid Wales at a site between Talybont and Nant y Moch reservoir.
Lance Mytton, a trustee, said the area was the location of the iconic 1401 battle, should be respected as a war grave, and called on politicians in Cardiff and London to oppose the plans.
He said: “It’s the site of the battle of Hyddgen when he [Glyndwr] defeated a much larger army. And it’s the very place that sent the lightning flash of Welsh self-determination 600 years ago.
“It’s an absolute disgrace; it’s a complete disgrace. I don’t blame the ministers in Westminster for not knowing that but I do blame the Welsh Assembly for not knowing it.”
Developers SSE Renewables claim the turbines would generate enough electricity to power 65,000 homes.
However, Ann West, the chairman of the society, said she did not see how the energy produced could “possibly justify” the “desecration” of the landscape.
Jane Ashley, the daughter of the designer Laura Ashley, also attended the House of Commons event and warned: “I think there’s going to be total anarchy in Wales if this goes ahead.”
The protest came ahead of yesterday’s speech by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne in which he contrasted the higher cost of wind power compared to nuclear, saying: “Offshore wind is assessed at £130 per megawatt hour, gas with carbon capture at £95 per megawatt hour, and nuclear at £66 per megawatt hour.”
Ceredigion Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams chaired the anti-Nant y Moch event and warned of the “industrialisation of the Cambrian mountains”.
Claiming this risked “sabotaging” efforts to promote his constituency, he said: “That’s what this is about and it is a price to great I believe for our constituencies to pay.”
Roger Williams, Brecon and Radnorshire Liberal Democrat MP, said the landscape should be protected with a “special designation”, arguing: “If you look at Britain, which is such a small country really with a relatively high population, the amount of wilderness land that we have in Britain is just so infinitesimal.”
Conservative Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies warned there was the potential for “a degree of conflict” greater than anything he had seen in his lifetime in Mid Wales if the National Grid pushed ahead with further plans to develop a substation and erect miles of pylons to connect to wind farms in Mid Wales.
He said: “The day they announce that I think there will be an uprising of public opinion greater than anything we’ve seen so far.”
He claimed there was “a preparedness to sacrifice Mid Wales on the altar of what I think is a rather dubious technology”.
Yesterday, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Jonathan Edwards called for the devolution of energy power to Wales.
Commenting on the Nant y Moch dispute, he said: “This was the site of a major battle at which Owain Glyndwr and his troops defeated a much larger English army. I am glad of the foresight of Plaid Cymru’s former Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones, who set up a Register of Historic Battlefields in Wales that will shortly come into operation.”
Jeremy Lee, the National Grid project manager, said a decision on the location of the substation was expected “this winter” and “6,500 pieces of feedback from the public” had been received.
He said: “National Grid has been asked to connect the proposed new wind farms in Mid Wales to the national transmission system. To do this, a new substation will be needed to collect power from the wind farms and a new connection will take that power to the national network.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Providing wind farm development is limited to the maximum capacities set out in TAN 8, we believe there is no need for the large, visually intrusive, grid network infrastructure and associated sub station of the kind proposed within Mid Wales. Where new grid is required, we must ensure it is located, designed and installed as sensitively as possible.
“Infrastructure issues such as this are not within the power of the Welsh Government, but rest with the National Grid and ministers in London. These concerns highlight again the reason the Welsh Government has repeatedly called for greater powers over large-scale energy projects to ensure the economic, social and environmental impacts in Wales are carefully considered.”
A spokesman for SSE said: “The proposed Nant y Moch wind farm is located in an area identified by the Welsh Assembly Government as suitable for large-scale wind farm development. The views of local communities are extremely important to us, and we have carried out a period of thorough consultation, including public exhibitions, drop-in sessions, newsletters and website updates to ensure all members of the community have been reached.”