Please help Protect Peaceful Powys

Come join us for an evening of music
inspired by our stunningly beautiful landscape
to help
PROTECT PEACEFUL POWYS

May 11th, 2017
The Fforest Inn, Llanfihangel Nant Melan, LD8 2TN

Green hills for miles taken atop the ridge to Beggar's Bush
To raise funds for the
BRECON & RADNOR ACTION GROUP

The Brecon and Radnor Action Group (BRAG) was formed to raise awareness of the drastic impact the potential development of over 30% of our uplands for wind and solar energy plants would have upon residents and the unique biodiversity of Powys and to oppose the Council’s proposals. In spite of fierce opposition, with minimal consultation and without debate by full council, Powys County Council have passed the Local Development Plan (LDP) to the Inspector for Examination. Meantime, the council have commissioned a revision of renewable energy proposals, due for publication on 12th May. This revision is welcome but we are concerned it won’t go far enough to satisfy residents and properly protect our landscapes and wildlife. Updates will be provided for discussion at the musical fundraiser event.

In addition, as some of those living quietly upon this breathtakingly beautiful rural landscape of Radnorshire are aware, residents received notification letters dated 13th April over the Easter holiday weekend advising them that the highly contentious Hendy Wind Farm application at Llandegley Rocks had been slipped back onto the agenda of the Powys County Council’s Planning Committee session scheduled for 27th April. This application has elicited overwhelming objection from the public since it first entered the planning system in 2014.

The timing of the recent determination of the Hendy Wind Farm application was highly questionable since it had come up for “consideration” during purdah prior to the local elections of May 4, 2017 and especially since it was being “recommended for approval” by the Powys County Officer’s Report. The application’s review was also scheduled two weeks before publication of evidence on suitable sites for wind farms in Powys and was in an area previously identified by AECOM (whom Powys CC had retained) that had been deemed unsuitable for onshore wind development. In addition, 27th April was the same day as the Powys LDP Examination relating to “Safeguarding of local Assets”, which session deals with landscape, biodiversity and public rights of way, all issues fundamental to the Hendy application. Furthermore, Community Councils in Powys were not informed about the application until 24th April which meant that consideration at local Council meetings and responses was impossible. It was also not known whether graziers of the common land involved were notified of the application. Hence, the foregoing aspects of the scheduling of the Hendy application’s consideration on the Planning Committee’s agenda gives rise to issues of openness and transparency which are supposed to be inherent in democratic process.

There are myriad reasons why the recommended approval of the Hendy Wind Farm application is more than highly questionable. In their letter of objection to Powys County Council dated 24th April 2017 the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) sets forth solid grounds for the application’s complete dismissal in a very thorough and comprehensive manner. CPRW’s objection letter can be read in it’s entirety on the Powys County Council’s website here.

One of the many critical issues relating to the Hendy application which stood out for many, which had not been properly addressed is the red listed Starlings’ winter roost at Llandegley Rocks. The RSPB and the British Ornithological Trust both note an almost 80 percent decline in the Starling population since 1987. The Starlings’ winter roost at Llandegley is a well-known and much loved location for observing, photographing and filming magnificent murmurations of starlings which draws visitors to the area from many locales, near and far.

It is noted from the Officer’s Report that earlier this year the ecologist currently retained by Powys County Council had said that, based upon information provided by the Hendy Wind Farm Developer, starlings arrived at the Llandegley roost “from directions other than through the proposed wind farm”. As far as I am aware substantive evidence supporting this allegedly observed phenomenon was not provided. It is further noted that the Developer apparently plans to fell the trees which form the starling roost so that the flocks can go elsewhere to avoid collision with the blades of wind turbines. This wonton and unconscionable destruction of the natural habitat of the endangered Starlings is referred to as “mitigation” for the loss of what the Hendy Developer describes as a “transitory” roost. How can a roost that has been a known starling habitat for decades at the very least be transitory? Not only are these comments and the view taken absurd, I find them to be absolutely appalling and revelatory of the complete disregard by the Developer for the ecology and bio-diversity of the unique location, one which should be protected and preserved.

The outstanding natural beauty of the area of Radnorshire where Llandegley Rocks is situated, along with the ancient history it holds, has preserved and protected for centuries, make it one of the most highly favoured tourist destinations in the world. Tourism along with farming are the primary source of revenue for the majority of Powys residents. As such, the livelihoods and lives of a high percentage of the resident population will be changed for the worst if the Hendy Wind Farm Developer is given the green light to proceed.

Most fortunately the application for the Hendy Wind Farm industrial development for 7 x 100m (360ft 10.7in) turbines, plus generating station, infrastructure etc. was refused following what we have been told was a 2 hour site visit by members of the Planning Committee to the area at the iconic Llandegley Rocks. In it’s recent update emailed to supporters, the Coalition for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) Brecon & Radnor Branch wrote:

We are hugely grateful to those members of the planning committee who voted to refuse this extremely controversial and damaging proposal. The vote was nearly unanimous with 11 councillors against to 1 in favour in spite of the Powys Planning Department recommending approval. This great result reflects the impressive efforts of local residents who have been vehement and articulate in their objections, and of the seven local community councils opposed to the plans.

The help and support of the General Secretary of the Open Spaces Society, Kate Ashbrook, has been invaluable. Please see the Open Spaces press release here.

Although this article at the Brecon & Radnor Express mentions, “The council had received 186 letters of objection from members of the public and six letters supporting it” resident believe the total number of objections submitted to Powys County Council to be in the region of 250, perhaps more. Objections were still being received right up to the time of the planning committee meeting and not all have necessarily been uploaded to the council website.

As a result of the foregoing, in addition to raising funds for BRAG, the musical fundraiser evening on 11th May will also provide a wonderful opportunity to gather and celebrate the milestone achieved with the Hendy Wind Farm refusal – a result achieved by many people pulling together with 100’s of objections submitted in the extremely small window of time available. However, as Peter Seaman, Chair of the Brecon & Radnor Branch of CPRW has expressed, we cannot sit on our laurels as there is the probability that the developer, Njord Energy Ltd (NE) with the backing of Development Securities PLC, a FTSE listed UK property company, will appeal. The Developer has 6 months within which to appeal the Hendy decision.

The Brecon & Radnor Action Group are greatly honoured to have Toby Hay and David Ian Roberts as featured musical guests at the Protect Peaceful Powys fundraiser.

Toby Hay and David Ian Roberts combined PR photo

Award-winning author Robert MacFarlane had this to say about Toby Hay’s The Gathering released March 29, 2017:

The tracks of this album – quick-fingered, deep-felt – open landscapes in the mind’s eye. It feels, listening to them, as if they have a little of the power – the power that linguists call ‘illocutionary’ and magicians call ‘conjuring’ – to summon things into being, or bring pasts briefly back to life. It came as no surprise to learn that Toby has sometimes hoped that the playing of ‘Starlings’ (in which the notes teem and swoop and swarm) might one day call up an actual murmuration. Place, memory, nature, loss and dreamed-of geographies are the subjects of this beautiful music: that gathering of feelings that go by the untranslatable Welsh word hiraeth. There is a sadness at what has gone here, but not a nostalgia. The world’s dew gleams on this music, but the world’s dust swirls through it too.Source

The video for Toby Hay’s track, ‘Mayfair at Rhayader 1927‘ from his new album ‘The Gathering’ was inspired by archive footage of May Day celebrations in Rhayader. As an observer of days long past, one is struck by the poignancy of the “human power of enjoyment, of communal celebration for celebration’s sake as two seemingly incompatible ages colliding and coexisting, at least for a while.” Source

David Ian Roberts is described as being “at the forefront of contemporary singer-songwriters in Wales” by Michael Kennedy of Welsh Connections. His 2014 debut album is described as “the obliquely beautiful and poetic St Clears.” In his review for Folk Radio UK, Simon Holland continues:

The self-taught guitarist is a gifted player and has an obvious natural gift for melody and harmony, which spills over into string arrangements that add drama and scale. It’s all been carefully recorded and mixed too resulting in a quietly beautiful album, blessed with a classic sound that becomes more compelling with each listen… The wonderful melodic and harmonic gifts that David brings to these songs creates the real beauty of this record. St Clears is like a dappled musical dream that you won’t want to wake up from.Source

For a soul stirring sample of David’s music this video is a live performance of his composition Grail with Aidan Thorne on Double Bass and Kirstie Miller on Cello. Grail features on his EP ‘Sending Out Fires’, which was released by Cambrian Records in May 2016.

Please come join us to celebrate life in the living landscape we passionately seek to protect and preserve:

May 11th, 2017
The Fforest Inn, Llanfihangel Nant Melan, LD8 2TN

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. | £10 | Auction | Raffle Tickets
Contact Jenny Keal for tickets & inquiries: jennykeal@gmail.com

With the funds raised the Brecon & Radnor Action Group hope to cover the cost of producing leaflets and banners for distribution and display to bring greater awareness to the potential imposition of wind and solar industrial farms upon our precious Powys landscape and the detrimental impact this would have upon all aspects of life, according to a growing body of substantive evidence. Peter Seaman OBE, Chair of the Brecon & Radnor Branch of CPRW will also be providing an update regarding the ongoing Inspector’s Hearings of the Powys CC’s Local Development Plan and what may potentially lay along the road ahead. Please let us know if you will be attending via the event page on Facebook or by contacting Jenny Keal as indicated above.

Please note that Nicky and Colin, the proprietors of The Fforest Inn have asked that anyone planning to have a meal on the evening of the event come early so that they may be properly served well prior to the start of the musical fundraiser.

Fundraiser Auction

The Brecon & Radnor Action Group is honoured and very grateful that the following items have been very kindly and generously donated for the cause, to Protect Peaceful Powys.

Radnorshire artist David Bellamy has donated this wonderful painting, ‘River Wye in Summer’ to be auctioned with proceeds donated to support our community work. “David Bellamy specialises in painting mountain and wild coastal scenes, and is particularly fascinated by the moods of nature in the wild places. A full time artist and author, he has written seventeen books illustrated with his paintings and eight dvd’s on David’s techniques in watercolour have been produced by APV Films.Through his painting and writing he hopes to bring about a greater awareness of the threats to the natural environment, and he is particularly active in conserving the wild areas. He is currently campaigning to preserve his beloved Welsh Hills from the scourge of Wind Turbine Developments.” Source at David’s website.

David Bellamy - River Wye in Summer

Jenny Keal, Radnorshire resident, artist and founder of The Brecon & Radnor Action Group, has donated this exquisite work of art ‘Mid Wales Farm’ to be auctioned. “Jenny paints predominately in Pastel and her main interest is in vernacular architecture but she also draws her inspiration from the rich history of the landscape and the atmospheric effects of the weather.” Source

Mid Wales Farm by Jenny Keal

Photographer Ian Nicholson has generously donated the photograph below of our much loved local landscape. Ian established Builth Wells Photography in 2003 which provides a range of services including courses, portraiture, commercial and event photography. As Ian writes on his website, “I have developed my own technique and style over the years, although this style seems to have been copied by a few local photographers. My free time is often spent scuba diving (mostly off the west Wales coast), hill walking and bouldering – all of which have given me an intimate relationship with the landscapes around me, which is reflected in my photographs. My long standing commitments have included the role of Official RWAS Spring Fair Festival Photographer since 2003 and Main Ring RWAS Show Photographer.”

Ian Nicholson photograph for fundraiser

Romy Shovelton has generously offered a weekend at Tyddyn Retreat to help raise funds for BRAG. Tyddyn Retreat is “an inspiring eco venue and self catering holiday cottages, in the beauty of the Cambrian Mountains, close to Machynlleth, Llanidloes & Newtown, Mid Wales.” The offer includes accommodation in either the Upper Barn Cottage or Lower Barn Cottage. 2 – 4 people for 2 nights eg. Friday to Sunday. Tyddyn Retreat has many treats including a private cinema, magical land with dingle (deep cut streams & pond with tall oak trees above), stone circle with campfire, tipi, two meadows and lots of outdoor seating, for private reflection or conversations with others.

Tyddyn Retreat

Genevieve Brown, Principal Osteopath at the Builth Wells Osteopathic Clinic, has very generously donated an osteopathic treatment with her in support of the BRAG fundraiser. A graduate of the European School of Osteopathy and Registered Osteopath, Genevieve  has been the Secretary for the North & Mid Wales Osteopathic Society since 1996. She is highly recommended and appointments much sought after for her excellent skills and treatment sessions.

Genevieve Brown

Zara Colchester has generously donated a day ride for two over the Begwyns in the Brecon Beacons area of Wales, stopping for lunch at the Roast Ox in Painscastle en route. You will set out around 10.30 a.m. from Upper Noyadd near Clyro. Your approximately 3 hour ride will start up a track and then straight out over the Begwyns which is an area of undulating hills and wilderness owned by the National Trust. We’ll stop for a lovely lunch at the Ox in Painscastle where the horses can be tied up. In the afternoon you will ride for approximately two hours back to Upper Noyadd, arriving there around 4:30 p.m.

The horses are mannerly and well behaved and are used in the family business, Stately Rides in the Brecon Beacons and in the Cotswolds. The options are two smaller horses, one 15.1 and one 14.2 for perhaps a mother and daughter combination or one larger horse 16.3 with one smaller one.  It is asked that riders be competent at walk, trot and canter. Alternatively if you would like to bring your own horse (or horses) that is also possible. You will be escorted by Zara and can choose a day which best suits you.

Zara on horseback

Zara's horse and view

Julie has graciously donated, An Outdoor ‘Pizza Making Evening for up to 6 people using her ‘Stone Pizza Oven’ at Cwmfillo, Rhulen near Builth Wells. The evening would take the form of 7 – 11 pm or thereabouts. Fresh green organic salad (home produced), dough, tomato and cheese will be provided as the pizza base. ‘Party Members’ are asked to bring their favourite or ‘experimental dressing’ with which to top their own pizza. The idea is to have a number of different pizza’s to share and munch on during the evening which leads to a very interesting and often intriguing culinary collage. With a little imagination the topping combinations are endless.

If you are not able to join us on 11th May, donations can be made and would be most gratefully received through the dedicated crowdfunding page for the Brecon & Radnor Action Group at JustGiving.

As I wrote to the members of the Powys County Council Planning Committee in my objection to the Hendy Wind Farm application:

Once the diggers come in and the destruction and desecration of what should be a protected area of outstanding natural beauty of great historical significance begins, there is no way to restore the damage done. Is this the vision, the legacy you hold and desire for yourself and your family, the constituents whom you represent, all of the residents of Powys in their myriad forms be it human, animal, bird, bee, bat, tree, geology and ecology? Does this honour the ancestors who once lived and walked upon these stunningly beautiful, green, pristine, hills and vales of Wales? What will be left for our children and all future generations?

Together through positive peaceful action we must stop the imposition of these not green nor clean wind machine atrocities here, there and everywhere around the world. Together we will co-create Peace on Earth for all creatures and creations, great and small.

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Llandegley from The Pales photograph courtesy of Andrew Willemsen

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