Blwyddyn newydd dda!
Happy New Year!
Agree completely with strong leadership but what I feel Plaid are seriously lacking at the moment is community engagement, certainly here in mid-Wales. There are two burning issues in Montgomeryshire, windfarms (rejected by 80% of locals) and school reorganisation where excellent education is under threat of tinkering pointless reforms. I long for Plaid to stand with the ordinary people but they do not. On windfarms, the party of Wales sides with international companies against us locals and failure to recognise the success of bilingual education has left them out of the loop on education. The Tories are defending us and representing our interests: what we get from Plaid is lectures about our incorrect manner of thinking. Please help!
I read this comment by Myfanwy Alexander on the WalesHome blog, and felt I must respond, because it’s been playing around in my mind a lot recently.
This response is typical of the response of many who oppose the development of wind farms. I don’t want to use this blog posting as any sort of criticism of Myfanwy (I don’t know her) but instead to use the comment as a typical response that has developed over the last 18 months to Wind Farms.
This is Nimbyism dressed up as a concern for the local community and democracy.
Firstly I agree that if projects are to be developed in Wales then they should be for the benefit of the local community and any benefits should come back to Wales. I said as much when I was a Parliamentary candidate back in 2005 (recorded on Radio). That is a basic and sound principle. The idea is after all a crude form of cooperative organisation, something which I support and would like to see Wales leading the way in.
But this principle should go beyond the development of Wind Farms.
- It should also be true with Tescos/B&Q/Currys etc. These large companies and corporations build massive stores in Wales; hire people for low wages; are more than happy to take our money; but then in some cases pay next to no tax, and in most cases pay their taxes through their England based headquarters, resulting in less money circulating in the Welsh economy.
- The English Royal family owns hundreds of thousands of acres of Welsh land, ploughing money generated from them into their own pockets back home in London, denying the Welsh economy of badly needed income.
- The Army have stolen thousands of acres of Welsh land to develop their combat skills, denying Welsh farmers valuable agricultural lands (let alone the cultural consequences of stealing our land).
- A huge gas pipeline has been built through the heart of Wales taking gas from Pembrokeshire to the UK grid – with no benefits for Wales or the communities hosting the pipeline.
There are numerous other examples of Wales being exploited for its various resources, either natural or what is more often ignored our exploited man-power (cheap-labour) which does not seem to concern anti Wind Farm campaigners who are using this very argument as a reason against wind farm developments.
Furthermore this ‘principal’ of theirs seems to work only one way. The fact that they don’t get any personal benefit riles them. However it hasn’t crossed their minds that they are only too willing to use energy sourced from various impoverished and often war-torn communities across the globe which suffer unimaginable atrocities in order for us to be able to turn on our Plasma TV’s. We only have to think of the oil and gas sourced from the Middle East; central Asia; western Africa; Coal from Columbia and South Africa; Uranium from poor Aboriginal communities in Australia and southern Africa.
But it seems that it is OK for these communities to be denied their fair share and suffer from wars; mining disasters; various Uranium related cancers and other illnesses as long as we don’t have to suffer beastly wind turbines on our beautiful hills!
Let’s get this right. Yes local communities should benefit from being exploited for their resources, not just wind but EVERY resource – including its people, not just here but everywhere.
That’s why we want to see an Independent Wales, one which will properly regulate, organise and distribute the wealth it generates equally and fairly and push to ensure that every community across the globe gets the same fair deal.
Instead of criticising individual planning applications for wind farms they should argue for the devolution of powers on energy to Wales in its entirety coupled with allowing Wales to raise its own finances from business and people operating in Wales. They should also show the same concern for the low wages that their brothers and sisters earn in our communities – ruthlessly exploited in order for a few people to make a financial killing.
By getting this right our communities could sell surplus energy adding value to the Welsh economy and reduce our dependence on importing fossil fuel sourced from deprived, poor, war-torn communities and playing our part in fighting climate change.
No doubt there is a “Nimby” element to the anti-windfarm lobby in Mid-Wales, but by the same token I would say that much of the outcry up there reflects a failure of the planning system for renewable energy as enshrined in TAN 8. It’s Architect? Carwyn Jones.
Part of the rationale behind “Strategic Search Areas” is the need to “cluster” developments closely together so that they can be hooked into the Grid. As I’m sure you are well aware Mabon, “protesters” in Mid Wales are not just objecting to the Wind Farms – they are objecting to the large-scale grid connection which will despoil a beautiful upland landscape merely to export electricity to England. Consequence? You end up with large numbers of proposed developments clustered in a relatively small geographical area – it’s inevitable that communities will object.
As to the LNG pipeline, most of the gas is being sourced from Qatar, which is in all probability wealthier than Wales. In an Independent Wales we would be able to negotiate a pretty penny for the use of our territory for the “transit” of this gas to England (and onwards to Belguim and Europe). The potential figures are impressive, but that’s another story…
I’m a member of Plaid, and its policies are indefensible. Wales does NOT control its own natural resources, and until it does, then the party should oppose any and all proposals to exploit them by the Westminster government.
Trust the local people when they tell you they don’t want these monster turbines.
It will be a disaster for Plaid if the likes of Dafydd Elis-Thomas is elected as its leader.
Almost a year on, nothing has changed.
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