MORE than 500 people flocked to a public exhibition on Thursday over plans to build a renewable energy network that will course through Powys.

The GEN Towy Usk project is a renewable energy network proposed by Green GEN Cymru, part of the Scotland-based Bute Energy group.

It would see 60 miles of pylons connecting a windfarm in the Radnor Forest with the energy grid in Carmarthenshire. 

But plans have been met with huge hostility – with people angry that, if implemented, it would mean their beloved rural landscape being blighted by a 60-mile network of pylons that would irreversibly change the picturesque Powys countryside forever.

Plans first surfaced last September – they include a new 36-turbine wind farm and substation in the Radnor Forest, the Nant Mithil Energy Park between Penybont and New Radnor, near Llandegley.

Part of the area is a designated and protected site of special scientific interest (SSSI), with the majority of it used for pasture grazing with hilltop moorland and small blocks of forestry.

It is situated near to the picturesque Water Breaks Its Neck – a waterfall and trail popular with walkers.


Green GEN Cymru estimates the energy park could generate up to 235 megawatts (MW) of wind energy, which it says is equivalent to providing enough power to meet the annual electricity needs of approximately 200,000 homes.

But nearly every person who packed into the Montgomery Pavilion on the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd, just outside Builth, on Thursday, is opposed to the proposals, and let Bute Energy staff in attendance known of their feelings.

Among the crowd were local county and community councillors, including Builth county councillor Jeremy Pugh and Peter James, who represents Llanwrtyd Wells, while Brecon and Radnorshire MP Fay Jones was also present.

“Today I attended the public consultation on plans for a 60-mile network of electricity pylons through the Radnorshire and Brecknockshire countryside,” Ms Jones tweeted following her visit.

“I’m against these plans and the 36 wind turbines – almost 220m high – in the Radnor Forest.”

County Times:  One concerned local resident left an impassioned plea to Bute Energy on a map of the proposed route at the exhibition One concerned local resident left an impassioned plea to Bute Energy on a map of the proposed route at the exhibition (Image: Matt Jones)

Fear is spreading that the pylons and the Nant Mithil site could be just the start. Exhbition boards alluded to a further five energy parks coming to the Powys and wider Mid Wales region – some suggest a total of 21 energy parks could be built in total.

Research, meanwhile, indicates the wind turbines in the Radnor Forest, if completed, would be a mere 20 feet lower than Pen-y-Fan – which at 886 metres above sea level is the second tallest peak in both Wales and the entire UK. For comparison, Rhos Fawr, the tallest summit in the Radnor Forest, is 660m high.

Of the dissenting voices on Thursday, one was Katie Barstow, who runs the popular Fforest Fields campsite just outside Builth. Nearby Aberedw Hill, hugely popular with mountain bikes and walkers, sits along the network’s preferred route.

“The preferred line goes over our camp site lake and right in front of it,” said Katie.

“That would mean 35 years of building up a business gone. People aren’t going to want to come and sit under a pylon and have a picnic.

“They come to Mid Wales because it’s peaceful, because it’s quiet, because there’s nothing here and because of the unspoilt landscape.

“We’ve worked incredibly hard to bring people to this area, to introduce them to what we have here in Mid Wales. They come now in their numbers and they’ll be devastated if this happens to their favourite place.”

In total 545 attendees were counted at the five-and-a-half hour exhibition. Local protesters handed out flyers, providing information and demanding questions of Green GEN Cymru, to people arriving. 

An initial consultation period opened on March 6 and runs until Friday, April 28, and already a Facebook group, Powys says NO to Pylons, has been set up.

County Times:  This map shows plans for a total of 6 energy parks throughout Powys and Mid Wales - there are reports that there could be 21 in total This map shows plans for a total of 6 energy parks throughout Powys and Mid Wales - there are reports that there could be 21 in total (Image: Matt Jones)

Green GEM Cymru says Nant Mithil would reduce pressure on the electricity grid, support green businesses and enable green heating and the roll out of electric vehicles across rural Wales.

Gareth Williams, grid director at Bute Energy, has previously said: “Bute Energy is taking action to help deliver clean green energy to our homes and businesses by developing the energy network in Wales.

"This will help tackle both the energy crisis and the climate crisis and make sure that local communities can live modern electric lives with less reliance on fossil fuels.”

As part of the current consultation process, another four public exhibitions are scheduled, as well as online webinars.

There will be a second one in Powys next week; this will be held at Penybont and District Community Centre, from 2-7.30pm, on Tuesday, March 28.

Other public exhibitions are being arranged in Llandovery, Llandeilo and Carmarthen.