Huge swathes of hillside and forestry across Mid Wales could be lost to wind farms, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales says.
The Montgomery branch of the organisation warned today that the Welsh Government’s draft National Development Framework contains renewable energy plans to industrialise vast new areas of our countryside and says that worryingly there are more than five thousand acres of Mid Wales forest listed for sale with an option agreement for wind energy development.
It is urging residents and visitors to the area to take part in the consultation over the framework, which ends at the end of the month.
There are worries that more wind farms could see mothballed plans for pylons across the Shropshire countryside to link them with the National Grid could be resurrected.
The proposals set new priority areas to be allocated for further wind farms and solar arrays where there will be a presumption of planning approval.
A map of the areas shows thousands of acres of land to the west of Welshpool and Newtown with even more between Newtown and Brecon.
Brian Drew from the Montgomery branch said that the CPRW accepts the need for renewable energy in the right place and supports economic development in rural areas.
“But this does not justify widespread industrialisation and irrational destruction of our landscapes,” he said.
“Visitor surveys show that people come to enjoy the tranquillity and beauty of our unspoilt landscapes and tourism is growing rapidly and helps sustain rural economies and farm livelihoods.
“Can the body that governs Wales really care so little about the world class Welsh landscape.”
Mr Drew said that there were ambitions to expand tourism in Wales in the future.
“Will there be a time when all that tourists can see are once beautiful hills bedecked with turbines accompanied by ‘before’ photos of a once beautiful landscape – rather similar to how history of days gone by is shown in many historic buildings.”
The CPRW says Wales in the past has had to provide other parts of the UK with utilities, water in particular but says it should not have to continue to be the energy provider for the whole of the UK.
“It’s time that those in power in Cardiff woke up to the priceless jewel they have in rural Wales. That they have detrimental ambitions for our landscape is outrageous,” Mr Drew said.
The campaign group is urging people to visit gov.wales/draft-national-development-framework and take part in the consultation.
“Wales could have a win-win situation, with green energy since off-shore wind technology is far exceeding on-shore in efficient energy production and has lower costs and impact on landscapes, communities and the environment and actually provides jobs in the UK as we are market leaders in the technology,” said Mr Drew.
“Maybe we could have wind turbines in Cardiff or Swansea, close to the main points of consumption with little transmission losses and requiring no pylons or major infrastructure to be built. Also, tidal energy should be looked at, after all the tide is in and out regularly – the wind doesn’t always blow onshore.”