Plans to build electricity pylons across Shropshire and Mid Wales would “desecrate” the region, former Conservative party leader William Hague has warned.
Mr Hague, Leader of the House of Commons and former Foreign Secretary said it is important to “preserve the best of the countryside”, and threw his weight behind Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies’s demand that National Grid shelves plans for 33 miles of electricity cables between Mid Wales and Lower Frankton.
Mr Hague said: “I support what Glyn Davies has said about it, fighting a very strong campaign about it. Personally I am a great believer in preserving the best of the countryside and it is very important not to desecrate it.
“Pylons have a particular tendency to do that.
“I know there is a debate about undergrounding, as there should be, but Glyn has made some good arguments against the whole project.”
Mr Hague was speaking ahead of his first public engagement in Mid Wales since revealing he would be making Montgomeryshire his home when he steps down as MP for Richmond following this May’s General Election.
He also said he wanted to see local people being able to influence planning decisions over pylons and windfarms.
He said: “I would like to see decision making for local people in windfarm decisions and these sort of decisions are really important for Mid Wales in the General Election because a Conservative Government will make sure there are no more new subsidies for wind farm projects that are not in the pipeline.”
Mr Hague also reiterated his views in a question and answer session following a talk to hundreds of Mid Wales residents at Welshpool Town Hall.
Responding to a question of how far he would be able to support campaigns against windfarms and pylons, Mr Hague said: “Funnily enough I fought in North Yorkshire against a line of pylons for many years. I think Glyn, with many local people has fought a very strong campaign on this.
“The important thing at UK level is to be clear that we are reaching the end of development of onshore windfarms. We need renewable energy but we cannot go along forever like that so it is important to bring an end to new subsidies for windfarms which are not already in the pipeline.”
Earlier this month Mr Davies secured a parliamentary debate on the issue where he urged Amber Rudd, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy & Climate Change, to ask National Grid to call off, or suspend its Mid Wales Connection Project.
He said: “It involves the industrialisation, and desecration, of the wondrous part of Wales where I live – and have always lived.
“The whole basis of National Grid’s approach has been to create an assumption that its proposals and all the consequent wind farms are inevitable.
“The line has been ‘you cannot stop us, so you might as well help us – and make the best of it, no point in protesting, it’s inevitable’.
“So far, more than £15 million has been spent on this project. It’s a blatant attempt to influence the planning process.”
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