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Protesters storm pylon meeting

An angry pack of protesters stormed into a National Grid consultation and told representatives to “go home” and leave Montgomeryshire’s countryside alone.

Around 100 local residents and members of the Montgomeryshire Against Pylons group gathered outside Llansantffraid Community Centre on Tuesday evening to protest against National Grid proposals to build a 33-mile pylon route from Cefn Coch to near Oswestry.

The consultation event was one of the final events held by the power transmission company for residents to give their views on the route linking power generated by proposed wind farms to the Shropshire power supply, with the project costing an estimated £300 million.

However, vocal protesters gathered with placards and stormed inside the community centre chanting “go home” and told National Grid representatives to leave the Montgomeryshire countryside alone.

Jonathon Wilkinson, chairman of Montgomeryshire Against Pylons, handed over a letter to representatives calling for a halt to the plans and said that the company had not listened to their calls for a public meeting leading to the protest.

He said: “I’m pleased but not surprised that so many people have attended as National Grid is not serving the people who have asked for a public meeting with them despite advice from Powys County Council to do so. This particular campaign has generated strong feeling in the community and we have received mixed messages from the company and government on this issue – only last week the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said that pylons should be underground.

“It’s a shame nobody told National Grid this.

“We have business owners who would see pylons over their land, community councillors and county councillors all protesting against the project here.

“The relationship between National Grid and local people has broken down and until they answer our questions I can’t see us moving forward together.

“Of course they don’t have to listen to us and they can force their way onto our land but without the cohesion of land owners it is going to be a rocky road.”

The group was supported by Llansantffraid County Councillor Gwynfor Thomas who said he was still waiting for answers to questions about his land.

He said: “We are five years into plans and they are still incomplete.

“They say we are merely being obstructive and they have done their best to consult with us. If they think this fight is over they are wrong.”

Martin Kinsey, National Grid senior project manager, said that the company had included previous feedback given by residents in the current proposals.

He said: “This is just a statutory consultation event and we are looking to get feedback on the proposed pylon route and associated plans.

“Please fill in a form if you have got any questions to ask us. We have been working on the project for five years and there have been a number of stages and consultation events where we have listened to feedback which has then formed the basis of our proposals.

“We think this is now the right proposal and we have held a series of events within the locality of the proposed route.

“It’s important that we work with land owners and stake holders as they have information we don’t.”

Mr Kinsey also emphasised that if the proposed windfarms at Llanbadarn Fynydd, Llaithddu, Llanbrynmair, Carnedd Wen and repowering Llandinam are not passed by the planning inspectorate then the final plans for the pylon route will not go ahead.