Anti-windfarm campaigners have launched an appeal for financial help as they aim to raise £150,000 to contest a major public inquiry into five windfarm applications.
Members of 18 regional protest groups, such as Montgomeryshire Against Pylons (MAP) and the Conservation of Upland Powys (CUP), joined forces this week to form a coalition, known as the Alliance, and handed over their finances to put up a single fighting fund.
The fund currently stands at close to £20,000 but Alliance leaders are calling on like-minded people to donate to the fund to prevent the industrialisation of rural Mid Wales.
Alliance spokesman Richard Bonfield said: “At the day of the launch we received eight cheques and now have close to £20,000, but if we are to be successful we will need to raise around £150,000 to pay for barristers and independent witnesses.
“People can donate to the fund by completing the form that features in this week’s County Times (in shops now). We appreciate that times are tough at the moment but we would be extremely grateful for any donation regardless of how large or small it is.”
Powys County Council faces a £2.8 million bill to contest the public inquiry into five windfarm applications, but the Alliance say that they want to fund their own defence.
Mr Bonfield said: “We are working alongside Powys County Council but clearly there has got to be a fight of independence in this fight.
“Powys County Council will be conducting their defence on this and we will be providing our own defence to ensure Mid Wales is not industrialised by giant wind turbines, pylons and all the infrastructure that comes with connecting them to the grid.”
Montgomeryshire AM Russell George, who joined the protesters at the launch of the Alliance’s ‘Fighting Fund’ urged readers to get behind the campaign.
He said: “What has been great is the fact that the protesters have remained united and this week what has happened is they have got together as one to prevent windfarm developers destroying Mid Wales’ beautiful countryside.
“The windfarm developers have vast amounts of money to fight their cause and it is a great shame that the fund to fight them has got to come out of the pockets of the people living in Mid Wales, but if we want to beat these proposals then this is what has to be done.”
Opposition to windfarms has grown in Powys since plans were unveiled to build an electricity sub-station in the county. Cefn Coch, near Llanfair Caereinion, was chosen as the preferred site for the sub-station in July 2012.
About 2,000 campaigners gathered at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay in May last year against the plans, which includes a corridor of pylons to the grid in Shropshire from 10 planned windfarms in Mid Wales.
The five public inquiries follow the council’s rejection of large windfarm applications in Llaithdu, Carnedd Wen, Llanbadarn Fynydd and Llandinam, and a National Grid connection from Llandinam.
As a consequence of the Welsh Government’s TAN8 policy Powys had a higher proportion of wind farm applications than other authorities in Wales.
The technical advice note (TAN) 8 policy was introduced in 2005 as guidance on windfarms. It allows councils to decide on windfarms up to 50 megawatts in size.
Powys County Council plans to help fund the public inquiry by adding a further 0.5 per cent to everyone’s council tax in April.
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