Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence

Written Evidence from Community of Llanfyndd Against Wind-Power Stations (CLAWS)

  We understand that the Welsh Affairs Committee is conducting an inquiry into energy in Wales. We would like to submit for your consideration our experience of the community divisions which can be caused by land-based wind power stations.

  CLAWS is a community based group of over 250 individuals who are opposed to the development of a wind farm by a Spanish company which would surround our small, rural village. Although only in the pre-planning stage, this proposed development has already profoundly affected our village and surrounding area. One of the most unpleasant consequences has been the divisions which have been created.

  There has been significant secrecy as to the nature of the proposal. Residents only learned by accident that an application for a wind monitoring mast was being considered by our community council. As too many council members have an interest in the proposal, our community is left without representation at a local level. The issue has led to great acrimony and a loss of confidence in the ability of our community council to fairly represent the views of the majority. The depth of the division can be demonstrated by a recent by-election for a community council vacancy. Not for over 20 years has a seat ever been contested, but a turnout higher than that of the general election was achieved.

  A public meeting degenerated into bitter recriminations between some of the landowners who would financially benefit and remaining residents. Statements included, "You are English and a newcomer—you have no right to tell us what we do with our land", "I have just put my house on the market to move closer to my family—it will never sell now".

  The farming community is split over the issue. While most family farms have suffered a substantial drop in their income over the last few years, and to many a wind farm development could be a financial lifeline, the development would only benefit a minority, further increasing financial inequities. Neighbours who have never have fallen out now do not speak to each other. In fact, there is evidence of un-neighbourly practices such as opening gates to let farm stock onto the road, blocking of culverts etc.

  The church and its school have made the decision to remain neutral on the issue, while the decision of the chapel to allow the developers use of their premises for an information evening has been criticised by many.

  The threat of division within communities is a very real cost of a policy which promotes large scale land-based wind power. Please consider this issue in your inquiry. We are willing to send a representative to London to personally address the Committee. Should you be unable to accommodate us, please at least allow the All Wales Energy Group to speak on our behalf.

29 November 2005

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