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Saturday
13  July

Energy giant reignites bid for North Powys pylon corridor

 
06/09/2023 @ 10:11

 

Montgomeryshire is set for another pylon fight after a new entity was set up with the goal to connect a proposed windfarm and substation near Llanerfyl with the National Grid in Shropshire via scores of pylons constructed through the North Powys countryside.

Green GEN Cymru, part of the Bute Energy Group, has created Green GEN Vyrnwy Frankton, a renewable energy network which they say will “connect clean, green energy to the National Grid and help rural communities decarbonise heat, power and transport”.

The move brings back memories of 13 years ago when the area united to successfully block the big energy providers’ plans for a Mid Wales Connection project that would have seen a giant pylon corridor rip through the area. Campaigners would rather see the route go underground.

This time, Green GEN Vyrnwy Frankton said that the steel pylons proposed are smaller, at 27 metres, and less bulky and would help carry enough green energy to power 144,000 homes.

It also said that the area would benefit from jobs created, millions of pounds in community support every year and also boost 5G network coverage across rural black spots.

MyWelshpool understands that the former Montgomeryshire Against Pylons group is already talking behind the scenes with a response to the bombshell that was announced this morning.

But they will have to act fast as a public consultation has been launched today with public drop-ins already planned for Llanymynech, Llansantffraid, Meifod and Llanfair Caereinion this month.

What do we know so far?

Below is a press release issued by the new entity - Green GEN Vyrnwy Frankton – which we have carried in its entirety to ensure you have the full facts revealed to date.

The project will link Bute Energy’s proposed Llyn Lort Energy Park, which could generate up to 165MW of clean, green energy in the Llanerfyl area, and a number of other Energy Parks in the early assessment and feasibility stage, to the National Grid at a point near Lower Frankton in Shropshire.  

The Welsh and UK Governments have set clear targets for more renewable energy, helping to stop the climate change that is threatening our livelihoods, landscapes, and wildlife. In Mid Wales, the existing electricity network does not have the capacity to connect new renewables to homes and businesses. To end the use of fossil fuels, we need new infrastructure and quickly.  

Green GEN Vyrnwy Frankton has been launched to meet this need, with an aim to contribute to a more resilient and reliable network for the region. It could reduce pressure on the existing electricity grid, supporting green businesses and enabling green heating, and the roll out of electric vehicles across rural Wales. 

The project could also allow direct connection of community projects and support energy resilience. It has the potential to support technologies like 5G that could help farmers, schools and businesses to be at the cutting edge of technology while being based in a rural area. It will tackle both the energy crisis and the climate crisis, and empower rural communities through investment, jobs and skills, enabling communities across Wales to live modern electric lives, supporting the Welsh Government’s target for electricity to be 100% renewable by 2035.  

Llyn Lort Energy Park, near Llanerfyl in Powys, is currently being consulted on by Bute Energy. It could generate up to 165MW of clean, green energy, enough to power 144,000 homes per year.  

The Green GEN Vyrnwy Frankton proposal is for a new 132kV overhead line, supported on 27-metre tall steel lattice pylons. While similar to previous National Grid plans in the area, the proposed pylons are significantly shorter and less bulky, and any visual effects will be significantly reduced as a result. The proposal also includes a substation near the Llyn Lort Energy Park.  

The proposed route for the connection was selected based on a range of factors including potential effects on landscape, the environment and communities. Green GEN Cymru is focused on causing the least disturbance to those who live, work and enjoy recreation close to the proposals and is committed to protecting the surrounding environment. 

A public consultation will run from Wednesday, September 6 to Wednesday, October 18. This includes a series of webinars and public events in the local area to provide more information and give people an opportunity to have their say.  

Members of the public can provide feedback on the route identified for the overhead line through Powys and Shropshire, and the proposed location for a substation near the Llyn Lort Energy Park. Green GEN Cymru is also asking for ideas on areas in the local community that people feel could benefit from investment from its Community Benefit Fund. 

A Community Benefit Fund of £7,500 per MW of installed capacity a year for each Bute Energy Energy Park that connects to the Green GEN Vyrnwy Frankton project will be set up. This will be accessible for communities near the Energy Parks and communities along the route of Green GEN Vyrnwy Frankton, which could mean a pot of several million pounds a year that local organisations, charities, and community groups can access. 

Gareth Williams, Grid Director at Bute Energy said:  

“As a nation we’re in a climate emergency, and a cost-of-living crisis. Our supply of energy is threatened by world events. Yet there is endless potential for renewable energy in Wales – particularly from the wind that blows across our hills and mountains. 

“But as the recent progress report from the Committee on Climate Change, the UK’s independent advisor on tackling climate change sets out, the roll-out of renewables in Wales has slowed since 2016 and now new energy infrastructure must be taken forward at pace. A rapid response from industry and other stakeholders is required if we’re to meet future Carbon Budgets, and the Welsh Government’s target for electricity to be 100% renewable by 2035. 

“Bute Energy is taking action now to help deliver clean green energy to our homes and businesses by developing the energy network in Wales. This will help tackle both the climate crisis and make sure that local communities can live modern electric lives with less reliance on fossil fuels. 

“We know that people have differing views on new infrastructure, and we are committed to doing everything we can to cause the least disturbance to the environment and those who live, work and enjoy recreation close to our proposals. We’d urge people to have their say on our plans so that we can develop the best solution for the environment and for communities across Wales.” 

RenewableUK Cymru Director, Jess Hooper said: 

“New grid infrastructure is at the heart of facilitating Wales’ and the UK’s journey to net zero. As a nation, we need to be taking action to deliver on our climate targets. New power lines, pylons and substations are essential for supplying clean electricity to our homes and businesses, and transport the clean power required to decarbonise our industries. The UK currently has the longest waiting list in Europe for renewable energy projects to connect to the national grid, and a lack of capacity is severely hindering Wales’ clean energy ambitions. 

“It’s good to see Green GEN Cymru taking action now to respond to these challenges, working collaboratively with communities and involving them closely from the start of the development process.” 

Members of the public will be able to find out more information about the project at one of Green GEN Cymru’s public events: 

  • Friday 22 September, 2pm – 7pm Llanymynech Village Hall, Station Road, Llanymynech, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY22 6E 
  • Saturday 23 September, 11am – 4pm Llanfair Caereinion Public Hall and Institute, Bridge Street, Llanfair Caereinion, Welshpool, SY21 0RY 
  • Wednesday 27 September, 2pm – 7pm Llansantffraid Community Centre, Treflan, Llansantffraid-Ym-Mechain, SY22 6AE 
  • Friday 29 September, 3pm – 7pm Meifod Village Hall, Community Centre, Meifod, SY22 6DF 

Online webinars will also be held during the consultation period. Information on these and how to attend is available at www.greengenvyrnwyfrankton.com

PICTURES: Provided by the energy company showing how the new 27m steel pylons look like.