Black Mountains College

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Black Mountains College got a mention in the previous post, since when the Annual Review and Financial Statement has become available on the Companies House website. This new document throws up a number of matters worthy of comment. There are also other issues that need an airing.

IN THE BEGINNING

There are two companies using the Black Mountains College name.

The first, Black Mountains College Ltd, was Incorporated 3 October, 2017, and I suspect it was something of a false start. I say that because it was set up as a private limited company, and it’s now dormant.

Perhaps realising their mistake, the BMC crew soon set up the Black Mountains College Project (without ‘Limited’) as a company limited by guarantee, and a charity of the same name, 7 February, 2018.

The difference being that with the first company the directors would have been fully liable had it gone belly-up, but with the second incarnation the directors can only be made to cough up a maximum of £10 each.

The directors of Black Mountains College Ltd are Dr William Newton-Smith and Ben Rawlence. Newton-Smith is also a director and trustee of the second company, while Rawlence is now CEO.

Potted biographies for the directors/trustees of the Black Mountains College Project can be found on the BMC website. I’ll provide further information as this article develops.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

You can get quite a lot of information from the BMC website. More can be found in this piece by Rawlence from the autumn/winter 2018 issue of The Welsh Agenda, published by the Institute of Welsh Affairs. (The images suggest someone was a little heavy-handed with the Photoshop controls.)

The BMC offers a degree course with a partner university that I can’t find named on the site, but which might be Trinity St David’s of ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson. An institution that has been moving steadily east from Lampeter and Carmarthen so much in recent years that it’s only a matter of time before it crosses the border.

But whichever university it is, it’s not named among ‘Our Partners’.

The BMC also offers, “further education vocational training in future skills. We aim to get you ready for a high-tech, low carbon future with skills such as seasonal catering, organic horticulture, coppicing, coding and regenerative farming.”

‘Seasonal catering’ can only mean tourism. God help us!

Click to enlarge

Let’s turn now to the Rawlence article. Here’s the link again.

In a highlighted block we read: “Powys is facing a ‘catastrophic’ risk of a
collapse in its working age population. The rural economy is facing several
existential threats”.

And yet, Ben Rawlence is right, though I suspect he doesn’t know the reasons.

Powys has been neglected for the whole period of devolution because the Labour Party hates rural areas – where it has little support – and encourages attacks on agriculture, the mainstay of the rural economy, from the eco-warriors and rewilders now rallying to the BMC standard. To complete the picture Powys – like other rural areas of Wales – is filling up with retirees.

Result: A collapse in the working age population of Powys . . . but it doesn’t really matter because there are few jobs! That’s the ‘Welsh Government’s strategy for rural areas – neglect the needs of the indigenous Welsh to facilitate managed economic decline which will be disguised by the indigenes being replaced by a largely non-working population. 

The way to improve the situation is to build up an economy creating jobs for local people. This will not be achieved by attracting basket-weavers and organic radish growers who will never be more than self-employed.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

As I mentioned at the top, what prompts this piece is the availability of the latest Annual Review and Financial Statement. Here’s the link again, to help you follow where I’m going. Maybe keep it open in another window.

Let’s start on page 3, under ‘Financial Review’. You’ll read mention of funding from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. This came from the Authority’s Sustainability Fund and totalled £82,500. This was matched with a further £45,000 from the Ashley Family Foundation.

You’ll also see mention of “The Arwain (Leader) grant”. This is ‘Welsh Government’ funding via Powys County Council.

At the very bottom of the page you’ll read of a “large private donation” of £103,000. Perhaps you’ll agree with me that that seems a rather odd amount. Is it a more rounded figure in some other currency, and if so, which currency might that be?

Scrolling down . . .

Top of page 4 tells of £97,000 over two years from the National Lottery Community Fund, People and Places. Plus “several private donations of 5k”. I shall return to this in a moment.

Page 11 reminds us that last year Black Mountains College received a £45,000 grant from the Community Foundation in Wales. This is a funder I’m unfamiliar with, and even after visiting the website I’m still not clear where its money comes from, or how it operates. All I can tell you is that it’s another Englandandwales outfit. (Scotland and Northern Ireland are not covered.)

Where the money goes. Click to enlarge

There’s obviously money coming in, but I was still surprised to see £122,415 spent on “Legal & professional fees”, compared to just £6,040 the previous year. Though I’m sure very little of this would have gone on legal fees.

Part of this sum (plus match funding) went to employ a Communications Director three days a week. Which means that the greater part went on professional fees.

Under ‘Expenditure’ on page 4 we see the likely beneficiary in The Philanthropy Company. Certainly, Black Mountains College gets a mention as a client of the fund-raising Philanthropy Company.

Though for a fledgling organisation with not a lot of cash that is a big outlay. Some might say extravagant.

On the plus side, staff costs soared from £23,890 in 2019 to £105,979 in 2020.

Images: Black Mountains College. Click to enlarge

Which is what it’s all about, bringing jobs to Powys . . . but not for locals.

LIFE’S A LOTTERY . . . OR MAYBE NOT!

If you’ve been paying attention then you’ll remember that I told you about £97,000 promised by the National Lottery Community Fund, People and Places.

Click to enlarge

The reason I’m returning to this is that the Black Mountains College is unusually well connected when it comes to the National Lottery. In fact, of the seven directors/trustees two have Lottery connections – and I don’t mean selling tickets in a corner shop!

David Isaac, partner at solicitors Pinsent Masons, was a director of the Big Lottery Fund from 2014 to 2018.

Currently serving as a member of the Community Fund board is Elizabeth Passey.

What I find odd about Ms Passey is that nowhere in connection with the Lottery, either in the site I linked to in the previous paragraph, nor in this announcement from the UK Government of her reappointment, is there any mention of her link with the Black Mountains College. Nor, come to that, is there a mention of BMC in this bio from The Entrepreneurs Network.

Which I find odd, considering that she was there at the start of BMC, on September 7, 2018. As was David Isaac.

In fact, seeing as David Isaac served on the Lottery from 2014 to 2018, and Elizabeth Passey was reappointed for a second term in 2018, they would have served together.

Click to enlarge

Equally puzzling is that Ms Passey’s BMC bio (scroll down to ‘Trustees’) does not mention her Lottery role.

Almost as if we’re not allowed to see Lottery and BMC together.

I won’t say too much as I’m already knee-deep in solicitors’ letters, but two out of seven directors/trustees having top jobs with the Lottery, and the Lottery then shelling out £97,000 for BMC, with possibly more to come, is food for thought.

Certainly got me thinking.

UPDATE 30.08.2020: A number of comments have drawn our attention to the fact that David Isaac has done very well for himself, very well indeed. Whereas some are homeless, most of us satisfied with one home, the greedy wanting two, but Dai has got three, maybe more. ‘Champagne socialist’, the Daily Mail called him.

The more we learn about Black Mountains College the more obvious it becomes that they’re a bunch of ‘We know best’ poseurs, charlatans and interlopers.

CONCLUSION

From my executive swivel chair the Black Mountains College looks like a milking machine. A few people, sensing the zeitgeist, have seen a chance to both enhance their reputations in certain circles while also pulling down a bit of moolah.

I certainly don’t believe it started as described by Emma, when, “On a wintry night in 2016, with wind rattling the windows, Ben and his neighbour Owen talked about the frightening future that their young daughters would inherit.”

Makes it sound like they were waiting for Heathcliff and Cathy!

On nights such as that I find the best thing to do is to relax with a glass or twa while listening to Hank Williams singing some particularly soulful numbers, then putting on a good pair of woolly socks and going to bed.

However it started, the Black Mountains College had to be in Wales. After TAN 6 and One Planet Developments, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, and the ‘Welsh Government’ declaring war on farmers, just about every eco-shyster on planet Earth was Googling ‘Wales’.

Click to enlarge

Go to 7:10 in this video to hear some arrogant interloper named Chris Vernon opine: “There is no reason why Wales couldn’t support several tens of thousands of smallholdings in the open countryside”.

How many, exactly, Chris, 30,000, 50,000? Whose country are we talking about, Chris?

And how many Welsh farming families will have to lose their land to accommodate these tens of thousands of smallholdings? Or, if the smallholdings would be on land that is currently unused, how the hell would that be helping the environment?

UPDATE: The saintly Dr Chris Vernon works for the Met Office in Bristol. His wife, Dr Erica Thompson, is a Fellow of the London School of Economics. I doubt that they live full-time on their OPD.

What’s more, with them both pulling down good salaries they certainly don’t need the income from their OPD. Which makes them, at best, hobby farmers; at worst, eco-charlatans.

Despite lauding the self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle they don’t actually live it.

If Black Mountains College takes off then Chris Vernon and his ilk will have their mother church. Somewhere ‘safe’ for their kids to be educated. And BMC will attract more Chris Vernons to Wales.

In another contribution Ben Rawlence urges us to ‘decolonise’ this, that and t’other. But it never occurs to the Ben Rawlences of this world that they can be as guilty of colonialist behaviour, especially in Wales, as those on the political right they are so ready to condemn as “threats to the liberal order”.

(Trans: The Orwellian-sounding “threats to the liberal order” means those who won’t submit to the left liberal climate alarmist agenda. Or those who can think for themselves and won’t be dictated to.)

Let’s finish with another rhetorical flourish from Rawlence’s piece in the IWA publication. A paragraph towards the end begins with, “The college of the future cannot be a college on the hill, an ivory tower divorced from its environment.”

Yet that’s exactly what the cult-like Black Mountains College wants to be. And that’s why it must not be funded from the public purse.

♦ end ♦

 




Wales and envirocolonialism

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Envirocolonialism may not be a term you’re familiar with, but I’ve coined it to describe two separate but linked phenomena.

The first of which is companies from outside of Wales building wind farms, wave power installations, and other facilities, that provide few if any jobs for Welsh people and contribute little or nothing to the Welsh economy.

The second is eco-warriors of various hues, including ‘rewilders’, also from outside of Wales, demanding land and funding to put into practice what are often insane schemes working against the interests of Welsh people and their communities. Or simply milking the funding system.

Yet both these forms of envirocolonialism are encouraged by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, which dresses up this exploitation as an economic strategy by which Wales will become prosperous while also saving the planet.

This lie, and the ugly colonialism it disguises, must be exposed and rejected.

‘BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND’

Last week the Guardian told us that the Crown Estate had given permission to a subsidiary of the French oil giant Total for floating wind turbines off the north coast. The English Crown giving a French company the go-ahead in Welsh waters.

(In Scotland – thanks to the SNP – the Crown Estate is devolved.)

But we were asked to believe there was Welsh involvement thanks to a Pembroke Dock-based company, Blue Gem Wind Ltd.

Don’t get too excited, for Blue Gem Wind is simply a marriage of convenience between Total and Simply Blue Energy. Blue Gem changed its registered office address from Kernow to Pembrokeshire last June, probably in anticipation of this project.

Both directors of Simply Blue Energy Wind Ltd are citizens and residents of Ireland, but the company has an address in Cornwall. There’s also Simply Blue Energy (Wave Hub) Ltd, with the same County Cork-based directors and the same Cornwall address.

One of the Irishmen is also found at Simply Blue Energy (Scotland) Ltd, but the other director is Scottish, with an Edinburgh address. The secretary, though, lives in County Louth, some distance from both The Rebel County and Auld Reekie.

This announcement was soon followed by news of what I take to be a separate development of some 100 turbines. The beneficiary here is RWE Renewables, the German conglomerate. With the the usual flotilla of small companies from over the border following in the giant’s wake.

‘Renewable energy targets’ that bear no resemblance to Wales’ needs. Just a fig leaf to disguise exploitation. Click to enlarge

There will soon be wind turbines off the coast from the border to the Menai Strait. And the benefits for Wales will be counted in a few dozen jobs. Though from what I hear, those already doing the jobs seem to have arrived from a few hundred miles east of Mostyn docks.

But never mind! There may be no Welsh companies involved, and no Welsh jobs, but we can still get a warm glow from sitting in our deck chairs, looking out to sea at hundreds of wind turbines making Wales’ contribution to saving the planet.

A contribution so insignificant that it can be wiped out by just one more coal-fired power station in China or a day’s logging in Amazonia.

RIDING THE WAVE . . . BUT NOT IF YOU’RE WELSH

With wind power being unreliable, the short life span of the turbines, the landscape damage, the killing of birds and bats, and now the increased risks of flooding, public opinion is turning against onshore wind power.

This goes some way to explaining the increase in offshore wind power, such as we looked at in the previous section, and also wave-generated energy.

Which is the cue to introduce another company, one that hasn’t gone through the charade of taking out a Pembrokeshire address.

In fact, it would be odd if Wave Hub had moved to Wales . . . seeing as it’s 100% owned by Cornwall County Council. And before the council took control in November 2017 Wave Hub had been owned by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

While Wave Hub is obviously not a Welsh company it nevertheless has enough of a ‘presence’ in Pembrokeshire to guarantee it £60 million from various funding sources. Including the Swansea Bay City Deal and the ‘Welsh Government’.

Did you know we had an ‘Internet Coast’? Click to enlarge

According to the linked article, the City Deal will provide £28 million with this “expected to help leverage a further £32 million of public and private funding”. No doubt a sizeable chunk of the remaining £32 million will come from the Welsh public purse.

And what will we get in return?

Research and development will almost certainly be conducted outside of Wales, and we can guarantee that Wales will not see the profits. Which leaves jobs. How many will there be and who’ll be monitoring the situation to ensure that locals get them? Answers: very few; nobody.

So let’s stop deluding ourselves and recognise a rip-off when it’s staring us in the face and twisting our gonads.

Here’s my interpretation of Wave Hub’s move to Wales.

Once it became clear there were to be City deals for Swansea and Cardiff clever minds in London sat down and thought, “OK, so we’re giving the Taffs this money . . . now how do we get back as much of it as possible?”

The Swansea Bay City Deal was signed off in March 2017 by Prime Minister Theresa May. The gestation period would have been at least a year. So let’s see how that fits with the Wave Hub timeline.

Chubby Cheeks looking miserable – tea but no biccies? Click to enlarge
  • Despite having been in existence since December 2011 the accounts for y/e 31 March 2016 show net assets of just £3,638. A company just ticking over, maybe waiting for a project.
  • March 2017, Swansea Bay City Deal signed off.
  • November 27, 2017, Cornwall County Council takes control of Wave Hub Ltd. Is this to make it more acceptable to the Welsh public?
  • July 1, 2019, Wave Hub appoints Piers Basil Guy as director. He will know ‘Welsh Government’ and Natural Resources Wales from being a director of: Llanerfyl Access Road Consortium Ltd; Parc Cynog Wind Farm; Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Ltd; Nant y Moch Wind Farm Ltd; Pendine Wind Farm Ltd; Nant Bach Wind Farm Ltd. What an inspired appointment!
  • September 18, 2019, Piers Basil Guy sets up Guy Energy Ltd. Hoping to make a bit for himself on the side?
  • June 11, 2020, announcement of £60 million funding for Wave Hub at its ‘Welsh’ operations.
  • June 11, 2020, elsewhere we read, with no mention of Pembrokeshire: “The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator is being led by Wave Hub in collaboration with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, A&P Group, Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council.

Why the hell are WE, through the Swansea Bay City Deal and the ‘Welsh Government’, funding a project with no Welsh presence beyond a shed in Pembrokeshire? Where are the benefits for Wales?

All the companies listed for Piers Basil Guy are owned  by Vattenfall, the Swedish company that has so much influence with the ‘Welsh Government’. A number of the wind farms listed were built on land managed by Natural Resources Wales, an agency of the ‘Welsh Government’. This includes of course the massive Pen y Cymoedd.

In addition, Basil George Guy has worked directly for a number of Vattenfall companies, sometimes through what I think is its Dutch arm, Nuon.

In this BBC article from October 2011 Guy is described as, “Nuon Renewables head of development”; while this wind energy site says in November 2012 that he’s, “Vattenfall’s head of Onshore Wind Development in the UK”.

Money is being showered on a company that might, or might not, be owned by Cornwall County Council. Either way, it has but the lightest of footprints in Wales and shouldn’t be given a penny until we are assured of tangible benefits.

Finally, is there a connection between Simply Blue (Wave Hub) Ltd and Wave Hub Ltd?

Up at the other end of the country from Pembrokeshire a genuinely Welsh outfit, Menter Môn, also has plans for wave energy, but it is being thwarted by a cat’s paw acting for Natural Resources Wales and the ‘Welsh Government’.

The ‘cat’s paw’ is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), another English organisation believing that Wales is too nice to be left to the Welsh. A view shared of course by the board of Natural Resources Wales, with which the RSPB has far too close a relationship.

The RSPB has recently come out in opposition to Menter Môn’s Morlais tidal energy plan. The project itself is explained here.

Though the RSPB has no issue with wind turbines killing birds!

Perhaps what the RSPB and NRW found offensive was, “Morlais is a Menter Môn project which aims to benefit local communities . . .”. That’s not how envirocolonialism works.

Though there has been opposition from other quarters, mainly the Trearddur Bay Sailing Club and the owners of ‘seasonal properties’ at Rhoscolyn. This explains the intervention of the constituency’s Conservative candidate a few weeks before last December’s general election.

The person being interviewed is Tom Roberts, presumably a local, and therefore unrepresentative of the opposition to the Morlais scheme. Here he is looking suitably impressed with Virginia Crosbie doing a memsahib ‘Speak up man; speak, damn you!

She gets out of him what he has perhaps been primed to say – the Morlais project could be bad for tourism. Mmm. Is that a negative any more?

Virginia Crosbie, friend, possibly tenant, of Jake Berry, the Tory MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire. How many properties does Berry now own on Ynys Môn?

Joking aside, let me spell this out quite clearly, for the avoidance of any doubt.

The RSPB would not have objected to this scheme if it had come from a developer viewed more favourably by Natural Resources Wales and the ‘Welsh Government’, neither of which wants to encourage genuinely Welsh initiatives.

TALES OF THE RIVERBANK

For a couple of years now a few people have been urging me to take a peek at the The Wye and Usk Foundation. At first sight, there seems to be nothing to worry about, the Foundation is a body trying to improve rivers and riparian environments. It of course works closely with Natural Resources Wales.

Admittedly, it’s a cross-border organisation, with most of the territory it covers being in Wales but, as is usually the case, with a majority of its trustees from outside.

But then, the more you look at the Wye and Usk Foundation the more the doubts creep in. It can be a little thing, such as this sentence found under ‘Climate Change’, on page 5 of the latest Trustees’ report.

“The summer drought also led to an increase in fodder crops being grown in the Welsh uplands which pose a serious risk to our rivers this winter.”

This is an organisation based in Wales, so why not just say, “uplands”? Using the term “Welsh uplands” makes it sound like an alien, and hostile, area. Something that could have been written by a 12th century Norman chronicler.

And of course, there’s the inference that Welsh farmers harm rivers. Which could have been written by that scourge of Welsh hill farmers, George Monbiot.

Talk of the devil! – less than a fortnight ago the man himself was writing in the Guardian about these very rivers, the Wye and the Usk, saying:

“In the west of Britain, the main issue is livestock farming. As dairy and poultry units have consolidated, the manure they produce is greater than the land’s capacity to absorb it. As an agricultural contractor explained to the Welsh government, some farmers are deliberately spreading muck before high rainfall, so that it washes off their fields and into the rivers. A farm adviser told the same inquiry that only 1% of farm slurry stores in Wales meet the regulations.”

Follow the link and you’ll see that the person who made that allegation about farmers deliberately spreading muck before rain was allowed to remain anonymous. (If he or she ever existed.)

Typical Grauniad, picture of a Welsh river but headline refers to UK government. Click to enlarge

In the same article Monbiot also wrote: “The Wye itself is dying at astonishing, heartbreaking speed.” Yet the The Wye Usk Foundation is far more upbeat. But then, Monbiot is a polemicist and a scaremonger, with a strategy to follow.

Basically, Monbiot’s message is: ‘Welsh farmers are bastards, get them off the land and then turn the land over to people like me’.

So, does George Monbiot have links to The Wye and Usk Foundation?

TALGARTH, SEAT OF LEARNING

The Wye and Usk Foundation is based in Talgarth, and among the trustees we find Elizabeth Passey, formerly of US investment bank Morgan Stanley, and now the Big Lottery Fund. Ms Passey is also a trustee of the Black Mountains College Project in Talgarth. Though for some reason Ms Passey’s role with the Big Lottery is not mentioned in her BMC bio, below.

On the BMC website Passey is said to hail “from a corn merchant family on the Welsh borders.” But from Talgarth it’s the English borders. It’s only the ‘Welsh borders’ for people who see Wales through English eyes, or from an anglocentric perspective . . . such as those involved in the Black Mountains College Project.

Click to enlarge

I have written about the Black Mountains College . . . or at least, the plan to set up such an institution, and to link it with a similar school in the USA funded by George Soros.

The Black Mountains College plans to offer “planet-centric education”. As we have come to expect with such ventures, there is little Welsh involvement.

Click to enlarge

Just last month, ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson, midwife to One Planet Developments, inspiration for the Future Generations legislation, doyenne of all things envirocolonial, appeared on the putative college’s website.

I assure you there is more crap on this website than Monbiot ever saw in the Wye. And the same could be said for Davidson’s book.

UPDATE 25.08.2020: The accounts for y/e 28.02.2020 are now available.

We see the £75,000 grant last year from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. A fresh grant of £49,036 from Arwain (money taken from farmers in the transfer from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 made by Alun Davies in 2013). Also, £16,750 from the National Lottery Community Fund. For which BMC can no doubt thank Ms Passey.

There are now three full-time employees; and while no one earns more than £60,000 we can be sure that with staff costs of £105,979 there are three people each earning a good screw.

Though I’d love to know why ‘Legal and professional fees’ jumped from £6,040 in 2019 to £122,415 in 2020.

Perhaps sitting next to Passey in the BMC boardroom yurt is Chris Blake, for he is also a trustee. You may remember that Chris had a walk-on role in last week’s offering, about beavers. That was due to him being a Natural Resources Wales board member.

When he’s not fulfilling the world vision of George Soros, or helping NRW screw us, Blake works with  The Green Valleys (Wales) Community Interest Company. As far as I can see there is no other company with that name, so why does it need ‘(Wales)’?

That nagging doubt returns about people being in Wales but still looking at the country through the eyes of an outsider, or else selling it to outsiders.

Also on the Green Valleys board we find Grenville Ham, formerly of the Green Party of Englandandwales and now Plaid Cymru.

Now we move south west, to the Rhondda, accompanied by Messrs Blake and Ham.

HONEST RIP-OFF OR PATERNALISM?

As any self-respecting crow will tell you, the distance between the hill station of Talgarth and the native settlement of Treherbert is just over 20 miles. Though they can appear to be much further apart.

Last week we learnt from the BBC:

“A former mining village has been awarded nearly £250,000 to develop Wales’ first community ownership project.

The Skyline project wants to take charge of about 1.5 sq miles (4 sq km) of forestry around Treherbert, Rhondda Cynon Taff.

It wants to create jobs in forestry and provide timber for affordable homes.

It also hopes to open up space to grow vegetables and encourage use of the woods for education and leisure.

The money will be used to develop the ideas with the hope of getting up to £2.5m from the National Lottery climate action fund to put their plans into action.”

There is clearly local enthusiasm, but who’s running the show, and what are their ultimate intentions?

We see mention of the Skyline project. I visited the Skyline website, where I found this video of an event held in Cardiff on May 1, 2019.

We hear Chris Blake, because Skyline is run by his Green Valleys company from Talgarth.

We also hear from Ian Thomas who, despite the name, does not sound as if he’s from round by ‘ere. He represents the ‘social enterprise’ Welcome to our Woods. In big type the home page of the Welcome to our Woods website tells us: “We are a community partnership in the Upper Rhondda Fawr, South Wales Valleys UK.”

‘South Wales Valleys UK’! Yet again, that ‘outsider’ phrasing.

WTOW Ltd is a company that has been going since 7 November 2014. Ceri Nicholas, a local who features prominently in the video below, was in at the start, but ceased to be a director in March this year. Why leave when things are about to take off?

Apart from Ian Thomas the directors are Simone Jayne Devinett of the Rhondda Housing Association; and Phillip John Vickery, who used to work for Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services and uses a Haverfordwest address.

Further confusion is caused by the WTOW website still showing Ceri Nicholas as a director, and also a Karen Davies of Purple Shoots, who is not listed as a director with Companies House.

Sort yourselves out!

In the video, locals are given bit parts, but at 2:04 we meet Sonya Bedford, introduced as ‘Head of Energy Stephen Scown Solicitors’. The name is in fact Stephens Scown, and it’s based in Devon. What the hell is she doing there?

The trip to Scotland is revealing, if only for the kind of people they met up there.

All the talk of growing vegetables, and living in cheap, timber housing suggests One Planet Developments. Which only adds to the feeling that this Rhondda project might simply be using locals to further the ends of a select group of outsiders.

People who are largely unemployable in the real world, whose companies are unviable, but who survive through political patronage, public funding, and of course Lottery funding. Which is where Elizabeth Passey of the National Lottery will come in handy.

To complete the picture of a scam being run by outsiders, for outsiders, the BBC was kind enough to tell us that the project manager is Melanie Newton.

Click to enlarge

If that name rings a bell it’s because Melanie was, until very recently, CEO of Summit to Sea, with which George Monbiot and others were deeply involved. This was an attempt to take over a vast area inland and north of Aberystwyth, evict the farmers, plant millions of trees, and introduce all sorts of exotic animals.

I’ve written about Summit to Sea a number of times, starting with The Welsh Clearances. There was also an excellent guest post by Jon Coles of the Pembrokeshire Herald.

Those involved in this population replacement scheme were encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’s threat to use Brexit as a weapon against farmers. Explicit in Brexit and our land. In fact, the ‘rewilders’ probably influenced the writing of the document.

One obvious channel of influence would have been ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty, advisor to and lover of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. Gary hates farmers. So do too many of the civil servants advising that shower in Corruption Bay.

So maybe the people of the Rhondda should worry that the real plan may be to get rid of them, forest the valley floor, and bring in lynx, beaver, and God knows what else. Because Melanie has form, and so do some of the others involved.

It has been suggested to me that this project in the Rhondda is part of a wider scheme, the brainchild of Alun Davies, Labour MS for Blaenau Gwent.

The Valleys Regional Park seems to be one of the Labour Party’s periodic attempts to convince Valleys’ voters that they aren’t being taken for granted. The document is page after page of what Monbiot imagined he saw in the Wye, though not without black humour.

Extolling the natural beauty of the Valleys, on page 14 we see:

Click to enlarge

Those “magical moorlands” of Mawr have been desecrated by the Mynydd y Gwair wind farm of the Duke of Beaufort.

Fitting, because Davies’ partner is Anna McMorrin. She has been mentioned a few times on this blog, lobbying for London investors wanting to despoil Powys with wind turbines. She’s been the Labour MP for Cardiff North since the June 2017 general election.

And talking of the Labour Party, Melanie Newton is a staunch supporter, if not a card-carrying member.

Click to enlarge

Connections. Connections. Connections.

TOMORROW BELONGS TO THEM?

What I’ve described here is not sincere people saving the environment of Wales for the Welsh but a network of ruthless grant-grabbers and would-be colonists trying to take it from us. Which means that at every opportunity Welsh people, and especially farmers – because they hold so much land – must be demonised.

This explains the borderline racism about ‘upland Welsh’ from the Wye and Usk Foundation, and the anonymous ‘sources’ quoted by George Monbiot.

The environment of Wales is being saved by and for more enlightened and superior people. Reminiscent of the Nazi’s idea for removing lesser races from conquered territories in the east and reintroducing (even back breeding) lost species such as the Auroch.

“Lutz began calling for the transformation of newly conquered lands in the east in order to recreate the primordial forest described in the epic Germanic poem Nibelungenlied. Lutz and Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and president of the Reichstag, became friends and went hunting in traditional dress and armed with spears to try and recreate the heroism of ancient German mythology.”

I’m not suggesting that the rewilders plan ‘Beowulf weekends’, where blond and hearty computer programmers from Solihull roam newly-forested hills dressed as Anglo-Saxon warriors before retiring to the Hall for a saga, a skinfull of ale, and a bit of wenching.

But who knows?

Click to enlarge

This colonialist approach to rewilding goes hand in hand with Wales making such a disproportionate contribution to ‘saving the planet’ that Lesley Griffiths adopts the persona of a madam greeting punters: “Ev’nin’, ducky, which bit of Wales would you like to have your way with?”

Of course we must protect the Welsh environment, and sensibly increase the use of renewable and clean energies. But this must be done in the interests of Wales; not by using climate change to cloak exploitation, or to promote a form of conservation that is paternalistic colonialism flirting with ethnic cleansing.

♦ end ♦

 




Buy-to-rent beavers, hawking sheikhs and Mrs Hain

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Yes, I promised there wouldn’t be anything until next Monday, but something came up and I thought, ‘Why not?’ And seeing as I’m spoiling you, next week’s offering might now be later than I’d promised.

You can have too much of a good thing!

ESCAPEES ON THE DYFI

This story starts with a report on the North Wales Live website of beavers in Afon Dyfi. A similar report appeared in the Western Mail yesterday. These beavers shouldn’t be there, of course, but they are, and no one seems to know who put them there!

Which could happen, I suppose. Anyone can walk into a pet shop and buy a mating pair of beavers . . . then mislay them somewhere near Machynlleth. It must happen all the time.

The fact that there are people wanting to release beavers into Welsh rivers is pure coincidence. Equally coincidental is that the Dyfi is targeted by these people.

The unlawful release may have taken place around the time – or even before – an application to release was made by Wildlife Trusts Wales to Natural Resources Wales. More on both these organisations later.

BEAVERS EVERYWHERE!

Another area being targeted by beaver lovers is in Carmarthenshire, where we find the Bevis Trust. The website tells us that the Trust, ” . . . manage wildlife on our 300 acre farm in Carmarthenshire and on other farms in the south west of Wales.”

Click to enlarge

Are we dealing here with a Welsh farming family wishing to reintroduce species that have not been found in Wales for centuries?

No prizes for guessing the answer to that question, for we are now in the murky world of ‘rewilding’.

Companies House tells us that the Bevis Trust for Wildlife Management is based at Penllynin Farm, west of Carmarthen. Seemingly run by Dr Nicholas Christopher Fox and the woman I take to be his Swedish wife, Barbro Ingrid Margareta.

Financially, the most recent ‘Micro company’ accounts (y/e 31.12.2018) give fixed assets of £444,733 (the farm?), but a negative figure for ‘total net assets’. This being accounted for by ‘current liabilities’.

I wondered who owns the farm, but when I tried my luck on the Land Registry website I found that Penllynin farm is not registered. Which is odd. Has it recently changed hands, with perhaps new ownership details being processed, or is someone trying to hide something?

Click to enlarge

Another outfit at the same address is International Wildlife Consultants (UK) Ltd. The ‘Abridged Balance Sheet’ (y/e 31.12.2019) shows healthy net assets of £8,749,561.

Though there are two charges against the company. One seems to be a bank loan for the purchase of Vowley farm, near Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire. The farm probably contributes most of the £2,320,764 in fixed assets. There is also a newly-minted Vowley Management Company Ltd.

With almost six million pounds of ‘assets’ accounted for by ‘debtors’. Who might they be? On page 7 of the latest accounts we read:

Click to enlarge

So – and not for the first time – we are dealing with linked or interlocking companies with money passing between them. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s what.

Wingbeat Ltd has “the same ultimate controlling party”. It never seems to have traded, with the one-time assets made up almost entirely of stocks, and the latest accounts showing a negative value of over one million pounds, accounted for by ‘creditors’. Presumably other Fox companies.

The other company mentioned in the capture above is Mickelbo Ltd, which is rather interesting. Not least because from its Incorporation in December 2003 until February 2007 it was known as International Wildlife Consultants Ltd.

I referred to money passing between the various companies owned by Nicholas and Barbro Fox. Go back to the 2004 accounts for Mickelbo Ltd (then International Wildlife Consultants Ltd) and you’ll read, in the final entry:

Click to enlarge

It was the same in the following year’s accounts. Charging their company for use of their land. All perfectly legal.

The change of company name in 2007 is due to the complete change in business, from a wildlife consultancy to a buy-to-rent landlord. This explains 40 outstanding mortgages. A number of these mortgages refer to properties in Carmarthen, Whitland, St Clears.

Most of these mortgages are with Mortgage Express, which has quite a history.

All 100 shares in Mickelbo are owned by International Wildlife Consultants (UK) Ltd. Which is why we can read this in the latest Mickelbo accounts:

Click to enlarge

Let’s recap. A couple of strangers decide Wales looks attractive. They start buying up land and property – then they rent it back to us! They have created not a single job. They now want permission to release beavers into Welsh rivers.

Because they’re curious to see what will happen. But unconcerned about the damage these animals might cause, and the livelihoods and leisure activities they could harm.

MONEY ON THE WING

In addition to beavers the Foxes are also interested in hawks. As we see with The Festival of Falconry and The Falconry Heritage Trust. We find other directors at these two charities, with an eclectic collection at the second representing China, Italy, USA, Japan, Netherlands, Belgium and Mongolia. (There is of course no Welsh involvement.)

The Festival of Falconry is filing as a dormant company with debts of £1,587. The Falconry Heritage Trust is in much better financing shape, thanks to . . .

Click to enlarge

This grant seems to have been sat on for a decade and explains the bulk of the one and half million pounds currently in the kitty.

The donor, “Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, colloquially known by his initials as MBZ, is the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces”.

His official biography paints him as a liberal; no mention of chopped-up journalists or adulterers being stoned to death. But then, in the Gulf, these considerations are relative.

Compared to Hitler and Stalin Mussolini looked almost cuddly.

Though going through The Falconry Heritage Trust accounts I was surprised to read, “Dr N Fox, a trustee of the charity, is a director and shareholder of International Wildlife Consultants Ltd”.

This was the previous name for Mickelbo, the new company has ‘(UK)’ in the name. Can’t they keep up with their own name changes?

BEAVERS EVERYWHERE!

So, we know there are beavers in the Dyfi, the Foxes want them in Carmarthenshire, while in Llandrindod we find yet another group with beavers straining at the leash. (Or however beavers express their deep yearning for liberty.)

I’m referring now to the Welsh Beaver Project, which is the umbrella organisation for a number of groups. Another umbrella organisation for local groups is Wildlife Trusts Wales (WTW).

From WTW we learn there is a single Trust for the whole of the north, another for ‘south and west Wales’, a third for Gwent; but instead of there being one for Powys, ‘Brecknock’, Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire have one each.

Now you might expect an organisation representing Welsh wildlife bodies to be located somewhere rural . . . but you’d be wrong. The registered office for Wildlife Trusts Wales is in Mount Stuart Square, in the black heart of Corruption Bay.

For Wildlife Trusts Wales is as much about lobbying politicians and influencing civil servants as it is about protecting wildlife. And of course, ensuring a steady flow of public moolah to create jobs . . . to employ people to lobby . . .

Just like George Monbiot and his Summit to Sea gang of ‘rewilders’, the WTW sees Brexit as a great opportunity. That’s because the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ will in future control the agricultural purse-strings. (Unless Westminster takes back that power.)

Just like the Monbiot gang the ‘Beavers Everywhere!’ crew believe they can persuade the ‘Welsh Government’ to re-label and divert farm payments to them.

It’s spelled out quite brazenly in the most recent annual report (top of page 2). We read that the ‘Welsh Government’ being in control of farm funding represents, “Significant opportunity to influence future payments”.

Click to enlarge

And the enviro-colonists of WTW have every right to be optimistic. For the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs is Lesley Griffiths, who is shacked up with ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty. He belongs to a clique of civil servants believing that all farmers – but especially Welsh farmers – are absolute bastards, and should be cleared off the land.

Their land.

‘BEAVERS, WHAT BEAVERS?’

It seems clear that the runaway – swimaway? – beavers on the Dyfi have been there for a few years . . . without anyone doing anything about it. The agency that should have been taking an interest is Natural Resources Wales.

Now you know me, I don’t like twisting the knife, but NRW has not had a good press of late. Most memorably with the timber sales, something that was never properly explained. But that’s Wales – a colony run by a corrupt management team with neither an effective political opposition nor a media to hold it to account.

This scandal resulted in Labour AM Lee Waters claiming the NRW was “out of control”, and for once I agreed with him. Because for once, he was right.

Deposed NRW chair, Diane McCrea, entered the revolving door from which popped her replacement Sir David Henshaw, who was, ” . . . born and bred in Liverpool”, but has “lived in North Wales for a number of years”. So he knows Wales like the back of his hand.

Then there’s CEO Clare Pillman who, in a different role, played her part in inflicting HMP Berwyn on us.

In fact, if you want to see ‘colonialism’ spelled out in thirty-foot-high neon letters you couldn’t do much better than the Board of Natural Resources Wales.

Though while the majority of the members are imports, there is also Geraint Davies described – because he’s the only one – as a “fluent Welsh speaker”. (Being a mere native, Geraint of course comes at the bottom of the list.)

Former chair of Wildlife Trusts Wales, Howard Davies, is also on the Board. Isn’t that cosy for when WTW deals with NRW? Howard is also CEO of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

At NAAONB we find office manager Amber Carter. Amber previously worked for Wildlife Trusts Wales and Environment Wales (the forerunner to Natural Resources Wales).

Click to enlarge

Did I say cosy? It’s positively incestuous!

Another who caught my eye was Chris Blake, for he is also involved with the Simon and Garfunkel tribute act at the putative Black Mountains College. An institution that provides “planet-centric education”. So there!

I wrote about them here and here. (You will need to scroll down.)

His brief bio on the BMC website tells us that Blake is a director of Green Valleys CIC .

The Green Valleys (Wales) Community Interest Company is based in Crickhowell, which we need to be told is in Wales. The latest accounts show that on a turnover of £208,753 in 2019 it managed a gross profit of £147,119, which is nothing to scoff at.

Unfortunately, administrative expenses took £178,338, and the bottom line, with everything taken into account, was a deficit for the year of £235,023. Bank loans and overdrafts accounting for £120,000 of that.

Making me wonder if any green energy companies make money. Would any of them survive without grants and other hand-outs?

Click to enlarge

Another member of the NRW Board worthy of mention is Dr Elizabeth Haywood, aka Mrs Peter Hain. Because for a woman with not a democratically cast vote to her name she plays a worryingly influential role in Welsh political and public life.

“Purely advisory roles, surely, Jac?”

Mmm. But when you consider how lazy and useless the Labour politicos of Corruption Bay are, and the fact that she’s the wife of a party heavyweight who outranks them all, then Haywood’s ‘advice’ will go a long way to determining policy.

Such as her Task and Finish Group into City Regions concluding that the best future for our north east is to be taken over and integrated with the north west of England.

Click to enlarge

I could understand ‘advice’ like that coming from the English side of the border – “Let us take over Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire for overspill housing in order to protect property values in Cheshire”, but from the Welsh side it sounds like surrender.

Or, more likely, it’s just stating the English position in a way that’s supposed to make it more palatable. It happens all the time.

As I said at the top of this section, I introduced Natural Resources Wales because it is the agency that should have taken action when it became known that beavers had been illegally released into the Dyfi catchment area.

A couple of days ago I put out a tweet that was answered by NRW and then taken up by @Cynfab3 who seems to know about the Dyfi beavers. The responses from NRW tell me they aren’t interested in taking any action.

Click to enlarge

To cover their own negligence NRW even tries to pass the buck to Dyfed Powys Police!

JAC AND THE BEAVERS

So what is the considered opinion of this august blog towards our furry, flapper-tailed friends?

Let me make it quite clear that I have nothing against beavers. They’ve done me no harm. So, in principle, I would have no real objection to them being reintroduced into Welsh rivers.

But that’s not the point is it?

My objection is based on the fact that this scheming – and law-breaking – is being done by alien groups with an unhealthy influence over civil servants and politicians, the latter elected to serve the Welsh interest. And being done against the wishes of those whose opinions should be paramount and decisive – the local, Welsh population.

Click to enlarge

Which makes this latest furore contemporary Wales in a nutshell, where everyone’s interests are catered for, except us Welsh. Where you only have to scream “climate change” loudly enough to get what you want.

Resulting in Wales filling up with bullshitters and shysters who spend their time attending conferences, making self-promoting videos, lobbying politicians, milking the public purse – and contributing sod all to the health or wealth of the nation.

Simply creating conditions where you can – quite literally – throw up a shack in open country, just as long as you claim it’s a One Planet Development saving us from global warming. As this recent FoI response makes clear.

Nobody in officialdom cared about this unauthorised OPD, just as nobody cares about the unlawful release of beavers into the Dyfi because the authors are people with names like Guy and Cassandra rather than Gwilym and Cerys.

Am I exaggerating?

As I write, we have tourists dumping rubbish everywhere, blocking roads; Welsh communities are being destroyed by holiday homes and colonisation, yet the ‘Welsh Government’ prefers to sit on its hands, serving the interests of an alien and genocidal tourism industry.

We need a fresh intake of politicians to Corruption Bay prepared to prioritise Welsh interests. Make it happen next year!

STOP PRESS: The latest ‘rewilding’ stunt is the suggestion that golden eagles be ‘reintroduced’ to Eryri. But will they survive saturation tourism, wind turbines and an absence of their natural prey?

Given the mess left by tourists in recent weeks maybe we should be thinking of vultures?

♦ end ♦




I’m back!

After technical difficulties I’m delighted to report that my computer is now running again. Though with nothing prepared I won’t publish just for the sake of getting something out this week. Instead, I shall work on an idea for next Monday, August 24th.

The theme I shall be exploring is the role played – or not played – by our ‘Welsh Parliament’ as Wales is increasingly exploited, anglicised and assimilated into England. For example, by refusing to take the machete to the housing jungle, as Wrecsam becomes ‘West Cheshire’, Newport an outer suburb of Bristol, and rural communities are destroyed by tourism and holiday homes.

I have long argued that this is due to a trade-off between Tory governments in London and Labour administrations in Corruption Bay that sees the latter willingly implement the policies of the former in return for being allowed to run Wales as a one-party crony state.

‘Surely not’! you cry. Take my word for it, good people.

For some years now the big worry for London has been the SNP threatening the very survival of the UK. Recent opinion polls have caused something close to panic in the imperial capital. To avoid the ‘poison’ spreading to Wales the two major Unionist parties will forget their differences to co-operate. In fact, they’ve been co-operating for a while.

Given that the ‘Welsh Parliament’ serves only England’s and Labour’s interests the name is obviously a misnomer. It is not our parliament because it does not serve Welsh interests.

And yet . . . it has a certain value. For example, as a distraction; confusing too many of us who aren’t sure who to blame when things go wrong. Worse, some who really should know better are strangely comforted by the ‘Welsh Parliament’ just being there.

So the working title for next Monday’s piece is ‘Wales’ placebo parliament’.

♦ end ♦

Corruption in the wind 2, Labour snouts in the trough

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

In November 2018 I published Corruption in the Wind? I suggest you read it to get the background to what’s written here. You might notice that for this report I’ve dropped the question mark used in the original piece.

BRIEF BACKGROUND

That earlier piece (plus updates) was about Hendy wind farm south of the hamlet of Llandegley, which is a few miles east of Llandrindod, and just off the A44.

The planning application was rejected by the council in May 2017. There was an appeal by the developers, and the council’s decision was upheld by a Planning Inspector in May 2018.

That seemed to be the end of the matter.

But, then, in October 2018, Lesley Griffiths, the ‘Welsh Government’s Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, suddenly and unexpectedly overturned that decision.

This led to developers cutting all sorts of corners in their rush to get one turbine erected before the end of January 2019, in order to beat OFGEM’s accreditation deadline for onshore wind subsidy hand-outs.

THE STORY SO FAR . . .

As Julie Andrews trilled in The Sound of Music – a movie I manage to avoid every Christmas! – “Let’s start at the very beginning”.

The planning application for Hendy wind farm was received by Powys County Council in July 2014. From Hendy Wind Farm Ltd through agent Cunnane Town Planning of Manchester. Among the directors of Hendy Wind Farm we find Steven John Radford.

To guarantee himself another slice of the Hendy pie Radford had set up Njord Energy Ltd, with his wife as the other director, two weeks earlier. They describe themselves as ‘environmental consultants’.

Here’s the plan that accompanied the planning application. The A44, heading roughly north west to Crossgates, forms the eastern boundary.

Click to enlarge

In the early days of this project we were also looking at the involvement of U and I Group PLC, which seemed to be the controlling force behind everything.

As I wrote in ‘Corruption in the wind?’ “A curious beast, U and I. It was known as Development Securities plc until 5 November 2015. And on the very same day a previous incarnation of the U and I Group Ltd changed its name to Development Securities Ltd.”

Development Securities (No 71) Ltd was the original name of Hendy Wind Farm Ltd until April 2012; so you have to wonder what it had been doing in the 27 months between the name change and submitting the planning application.

In fact, companies changing or exchanging names is quite common among those we’re dealing with. Why do they do it? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Though confusing the curious must be one possibility.

Here’s a table I’ve put together in which I try to show, in chronological order, when various individuals and companies became involved. You will probably find it easier to use the pdf version with the company names serving as hyperlinks.

My attempt to set out the companies and the individuals involved with the Hendy wind farm. Click to enlarge

In addition to the web of interlinked companies I mention here, also involved are companies under the Parabola banner, also based at 20 Primrose Street, London. But there are so many others . . . It really is a maze.

Those I mentioned in the original piece seem to have been joined recently by a new set of players. As if one team has been responsible for getting planning permission and now, that achieved, another team will take over.

That is certainly what is suggested on page 6 of the Annual Report for the U and I Group. Where we see that Hendy Wind Farm is lined up for sale. You’ll also see Rhoscrowther wind farm mentioned. Which is strange.

Originally there were three wind farms planned by U + I, each with its own company. (All covered in ‘Corruption in the wind?’) Bryn Blaen, near Llangurig, went ahead relatively straightforwardly, and has now been sold. Hendy you’re reading about here, and then there was Rhoscrowther.

Rhoscrowther wind farm was planned for the Milford Haven Waterway. The county council vetoed it, a planning inspector agreed, ‘Welsh Government’ accepted that decision, and it even went as far as a High Court hearing when the investors wouldn’t accept those decisions.

My understanding is that the Rhoscrowther project is dead. So why does it appear as an ongoing project in U + I’s annual report? Which appears to suggest that the application will be submitted again. But why expect a different outcome? Do those involved know something we don’t?

Image: U + I Group PLC. Click to enlarge

Quite obviously, U + I cannot maximise its profit from Hendy until the sale is completed, and for that to happen there are still a couple of hurdles to overcome. With niceties to be observed.

A recent letter from Steven Radford to the County Council asks for some irksome conditions to be lifted. Specifically, Condition 38 of the planning permission, which relates to bats and birds. The council of course agreed, with worrying alacrity.

A remarkable document this. Tantamount to a wind farm developer admitting that wind turbines kill birds and bats, something that’s usually denied.

ENTER ANEURIN GLYNDŴR, IN MOOD POSITIF

For those of you for whom Aneurin Glyndŵr means nothing, let me explain . . .

Back in the early part of 2009 a bright lad in the Labour Party launched a website attacking his party’s political opponents. The site’s name cleverly linking the names of Labour icon Aneurin Bevan and national hero Owain Glyndŵr. As background music it even employed Tom Jones’s Delilah.

How we laughed!

But it all came unstuck and caused the bruvvers considerable embarrassment. First Minister Rhodri Morgan was particularly irked because Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones had been portrayed as a clown. In normal circumstances this wouldn’t have mattered, but Labour was in coalition with Plaid Cymru at the time.

The website itself has long disappeared into the ether, but this old blog will give you a flavour. Though the Aneurin Glyndŵr Twitter account lives on. As does another account using the name that seems to have no connection with Wales.

Now the bright young thing behind Aneurin Glyndŵr was David James Taylor. He’d first came to public attention in 2004 with another website, this one attacking Labour rebel Clare Short. Remember her?

In the first article I linked to you’ll see mention of Peter Hain and Alun Davies. Taylor had worked as an advisor to Hain when that Son of Africa was Secretary of State for Wales. While I’m not aware of any connection between Davies and Taylor, Anna McMorrin, Davies’s partner, had been a lobbyist working for those behind Hendy and other wind farms.

She’s mentioned in my spreadsheet thingy in April 2017.

In 2016 Taylor stood for the post of North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, losing out in the second round to the Plaid Cymru candidate Arfon Jones. These PCC elections were held at the same time as the elections for the Welsh Assembly and here’s a picture of Taylor out canvassing for . . . well, bless me! – he’s canvassing for Lesley Griffiths, who shocked us all by giving Hendy Wind Farm Ltd planning permission in October 2018.

From the 2016 Assembly election campaign. Click to enlarge

So maybe it’s no surprise to learn that Taylor now has his snout in the wind farm trough. Where he acts as path-smoother for developers.

Those involved in the campaign to protect this beautiful area tell me that Taylor is now handling ‘community liaison’ for the developers . . . but there’s little or no liaising. Yet somehow reports are still submitted!

Taylor is also said to be busy trying to revive the Rhoscrowther project. Who would he need to influence to achieve that?

Whatever he’s doing, the network of interlinked and shape-shifting companies he’s involved with seem to value his contribution enough to have let him join the gang at Grayling Capital LLP.

Taylor has also been slipped a few shares at Windward Enterprises Ltd, some in his own name and some in the name of his company, Moblake Associates Ltd.

I’m sure his new friends have high hopes for David James Taylor, because they plan more wind farms and other developments in Wales.

Another Labour insider now involved is Daran Hill of lobbyists Positif.

This company is acting on behalf of Grayling Capital – where David Taylor is a (non-designated) member – and Bute Energy Ltd, a company set up earlier this year and owned by Windward Enterprises Ltd, the company in which Taylor has shares.

To give you a flavour of the interconnectedness I’ve referred to, Windward Enterprises is owned by Windward Global Ltd, and all shares in Windward Global are held – at the time of writing! – by Oliver James Millican.

Millican is one of the new boys on the block. He is invariably accompanied by Lawson Douglas Steele and Stuart Allan George. They either use the Primrose Street address in London, or the New Town address of the Edinburgh Solicitors’ Property Centre Ltd.

Office of ESPC, 90A George Street, Edinburgh. Click to enlarge

I suggest that this Scottish involvement may have brought with it a better understanding of devolution, and an appreciation of the need for contacts with influence at the highest local level.

Which would of course explain the involvement of McMorrin, Taylor and Hill.

I contacted Daran Hill by Twitter DM yesterday, hoping he’d contribute, but he seemed a bit, well, guarded. And when I asked if he had contact details for David Taylor, his reply surprised me.

Click to enlarge

Why would Taylor need a lobbying firm?

Though Taylor and Hill have known each other for a while. Taylor had a company called Leckwith Ltd, which he’d formed in November 2011. On 1 January 2018 Taylor left and Hill arrived. The company was dissolved 5 February 2019.

A company not much more than a shell, so I can’t understand why Taylor didn’t just go for voluntary liquidation. Does it look better on his record that somebody took it over?

Another, rather bizarre connection, between Taylor, Hill and Lesley Griffiths is the late Carl Sargeant, who committed suicide in November 2017, shortly after being sacked as Secretary for Communities and Children.

Hill claimed to have been Sargeant’s best friend at the time of his death. Taylor was also a close friend. Both are mentioned in this report from the inquest. Lesley Griffiths was on the train to Cardiff with Sargeant to attend the meeting with First Minister Carwyn Jones at which he was sacked.

All seemed to take the anti-Carwyn Jones line following Sargeant’s death. Though Griffiths was kept on, and even took over Sargeant’s post, which might be interpreted as accepting a proffered olive branch.

Then, as we saw in a picture above, Taylor was canvassing for Griffiths in 2016. And as far back as 2012 Hill was sticking up for a beleaguered Lesley Griffiths.

They do seem to help each other out.

PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER

Lesley Griffiths over-ruled the planning inspector in October 2018 even though nothing had changed in the five months since the planning inspector delivered his judgement – which Griffiths had accepted.

So why did Lesley Griffiths do it?

Maybe the investors hoping to make millions from Hendy wind farm lobbied friends in London. This resulted in Griffiths being ‘leaned on’.

Then again, maybe the lobbying, and the ‘leaning’, was done in Wales.

Wherever it was done, the developers knew what was going to happen, and this explains why they were on site three days before Lesley Griffiths wrote to the developers’ solicitor to tell him she’d decided to over-rule the planning inspector.

Anyone arguing that I’m wrong about the lobbying should come up with a plausible explanation for Lesley Griffiths’ intervention, and for the prescient surveyors.

She certainly didn’t wake suddenly one night and shout, “Gary, love, I’ve had a vision, and a voice said to me . . . “.

No, she was wide awake, and the voices she heard were more familiar to her.

Surveyors on site at Hendy wind farm 3 days before Lesley Griffiths wrote to developers’ solicitor telling him that she was overturning the planning inspector’s decision. Click to enlarge

Hendy wind farm isn’t the end of the story. It’s not the end of anything. It could even mark the start of Wales sinking to new lows of corruption, that will see companies from outside the country use local influencers to get their way and screw the rest of us.

Through lobbyists and others that are unregulated and unregistered. The fault of a cronyist Labour Party; as this brilliant essay by Matt Smith puts it:

“The Welsh Labour establishment recruits networked left-wing careerists. Of their 29 AMs, 24% worked on the party payroll (as Labour advisers or staffers), 21% worked for third sector organisations, 21% worked in the media and 14% worked for trade unions or a union-affiliated law firm before being selected. Only two fifths of Welsh Labour AMs did not work in professional politics or associated sectors.”

Which is music to the ears of those Taylor and Hill now work for, because the new boys from Yr Hen Ogledd, have further plans for Wales. They formed three new companies as recently as 29/30 April.

In addition, talks are underway with landowners across the A44 from the Hendy site. Which means that the Three Amigos and their Welsh recruits could do very well for themselves in the years ahead.

But what about the rest of us?

In ‘Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition‘ we are told about the ‘community benefits’ of renewable energy, and the ‘community-owned’ projects – but where are they?

Take a look at the companies and individuals involved at Hendy, Pen y Cymoedd and other wind farms. The only Welsh beneficiaries seem to be Labour Party insiders like Anna McMorrin, David Taylor, and Daran Hill. Possibly Lesley Griffiths.

And of course, the landowners. For wind turbines are to energy generation what caravan parks are to tourism – they provide no jobs, they put little money into the local economy, and the only real beneficiaries are the landowners who have the turbines or caravans on their land.

Which exposes Labour’s position, yet again, as vacuous, virtue-signalling bollocks.

THE BIT AT THE END WHERE JAC GOES OFF ON ONE

Certain persons in London long ago decided that Wales would take an unfair and disproportionate number of wind turbines in order to protect the vistas of the New Jerusalem.

Taffy doffed his cap, shuffled his feet, and mumbled, “Oh! tidy, mun.” For this diktat could be repackaged as saving the planet. With more sugar added to the pill by promising jobs and community benefits, with free rides for children and pensioners – as outlined in ‘Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition’.

I suggest that because covering Wales with wind turbines was a gift for a party with no economic strategy beyond throwing money at shysters while integrating eastern parts of the country with adjoining areas of England and encouraging tourism to ethnically cleanse areas further west.

All that was needed then to implement the cunning plan was persuadable landowners and complaisant councillors. Wales has never lacked for either.

The first turbine at Hendy wind farm, with Llandegley Rocks forming the horizon. Click to enlarge

The hypocrisy and deceit is further exposed by wind turbines creating no jobs beyond the construction stage, and the ‘community benefits’ being restricted to hand-outs from the foreign companies making the profits. (With Labour Party loyalists often deciding who gets these crumbs.)

Which leads me to conclude that the ‘progressive’ consensus in Corruption Bay has done more for the City of London than for the city of Swansea . . . and most other parts of Wales. It takes the likes of Johnson, Cummings and Hancock to make them look remotely competent.

Time is up for the Labour Party and its little helpers. Make sure you give them the message in next year’s election. Wales deserves better.

But even before then, Lesley Griffiths’ position is now untenable.

♦ end ♦

Finally, thanks to the wonderful people in Powys who are fighting these bird slicing, bat dicing, flood causing monsters that despoil our environment so as to protect someone else’s and allow charlatan politicos and their cronies to enjoy their parasitic existence.

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to use everything you sent me. Special thanks, and apologies, to ‘A’ for the photos sent late last night. I’m afraid I’d already finished the article.

 




Tourism in Wales: problems, thoughts, suggestions

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I’m taking a break from the con men, fraudsters and assorted crooks who figure regularly here. But I’m not moving far, because this week I’m focusing on tourism operators, politicians and others who themselves have but a nodding acquaintance with the truth.

THE STORM BREAKS

One of the benefits of coronavirus and lockdown was the absence of tourists, and the joyous consequences of that absence. Such as much less traffic on our rural roads, fewer call-outs for our emergency services, and in all manner of ways making rural and coastal areas of Wales more pleasant for those who live there all year round.

Making recent months seem even more of a lost golden age has been the irruption of noisy, stupid and irresponsible tourists since lockdown was eased by our self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, bowing to pressure from the Conservative and Unionist Party and tourism operators.

There has inevitably been a reaction from local people to the return of the tourists in what have been, literally, overwhelming numbers. What you see below was the scene two weeks ago near Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).

Click to enlarge

Much of the anger this has generated is directed at motorists, with many photos in print and online of inconsiderately parked cars. Which allowed some to argue that all would be well if we had bigger car parks to accommodate all the vehicles. Or even park and ride schemes.

Both of which ignore the real problem – many areas get more cars than the local road system can handle, and more people than the environment can cope with. I shall return to the environmental angle later.

Let’s also remember that the problems caused by tourism go way beyond traffic issues.

RESPONSES

Here’s a two-page spread from last Wednesday’s Llais y Sais, in which we read Councillor Gareth Thomas, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Head of Economical Development, opine that, despite the recent problems, tourism, “provides high quality jobs for local people as well as supporting the county’s environment, language, culture and destinations”.

“Destinations”?

Click to enlarge

I don’t know Gareth Thomas, he might be a great bloke, but anyone saying that tourism provides high quality jobs, and that it also supports the area’s environment, language and culture is talking absolute nonsense.

Yesterday’s Daily Post carried what might have been an attempt to retrieve the situation. (With first minister Drakeford not ruling out a tourism tax . . . sort of.) But did council leader Dyfrig Siencyn really say, as he is quoted: ” . . . our rural economy is totally dependent on the tourism industry”?

A fuller version of this article may have appeared in Llais y Sais, Read it here.

Perhaps hoping to establish its own credentials vis-à-vis tourism opposition group Llais Gwynedd also weighed in. For those unfamiliar with Llais Gwynedd (which has 6 councillors), it sees itself as perhaps more radical than Plaid Cymru, more rooted in the local communities of Gwynedd.

Its spokesman, Glyn Daniels, wants to charge hikers on Yr Wyddfa £1 per head. I don’t know Glyn Daniels either, but he’s also talking rubbish. At £1 per head the money raised wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs of collecting and processing it.

What’s more, it would not serve as a deterrent. And we need some kind of deterrent to reduce the numbers coming to areas like our national parks and other ‘honey pots’. To cover the costs mentioned, and put a decent amount into the communities affected, the charge would need to be a minimum of £10 a head.

In a Daily Post poll, more than 70% of respondents agreed there should be a charge.

Opposing Councillor Daniels’ suggestion to charge hikers was Brân Devey, of Ramblers Cymru, with a remark I found rather puzzling: “Local people will not go up Snowdon really in the summer, it is too busy”.

Is he saying we shouldn’t charge the people overcrowding Yr Wyddfa in summer because they’re not locals?

‘Ramblers Cymru’ is worth a little detour.

‘RAMBLERS CYMRU’?

You will remember that ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson, Minister for Hippies in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition 2007 – 2011, and midwife of One Planet Developments, was also Welsh vice-president of The Ramblers before stepping down in 2007, and then, as grough tells us, she rejoined as president when she departed Corruption Bay in 2011.

But of course she shunned The Ramblers, and the ramblers, while she was a minister.

Click to enlarge

For some reason this second stint with The Ramblers is not mentioned in Davidson’s Wikipedia entry. (By the time you read it the page might have been re-written, again.)

Though it’s difficult to make out if there really is a group called Ramblers Cymru or, as the grough article I just linked to puts it, Davidson became “president of the Ramblers in Wales”.

The website, https://www.ramblers.org.uk/wales, suggests another Englandandwales organisation, for when you click ‘Home’ on the Wales page you go back to the UK site.

Which is appropriate, for most of those working for Ramblers Cymru have moved here to do jobs that are clearly beyond the abilities of Welsh people. Mainly women of the type who have flooded into Wales since devolution to run the hundreds of third sector bodies that the ‘progressive’ parties feel we can’t do without.

One, Maria Hamlett, says: “My background includes working in numerous third sector organisations in key governance roles”. While Amanda Hill has: “15 years experience working for Worcestershire County Council”. Rebecca Brough: “I have a background in policy influencing work in the governmental, charity and statutory sectors”.

Important points there. For the staff at Ramblers Cymru don’t restrict themselves to scolding a wicked farmer for leaving Berwyn the bull on the footpath, they also seek to influence policy-makers. Just as Jane Davidson did, before, during, and after her stint as a minister.

The people I’m describing do not represent – nor do they seek to represent – our interests. If Welsh interests are served then it’s entirely accidental or tangential. ‘Ramblers Cymru’ and similar organisations seek to curate (love that word!) our homeland for the benefit of others like themselves.

We have far too many colonialist organisations like ‘Ramblers Cymru’.

Because it is what it is no one should be surprised to learn that – just like ‘rewilders’ – The Ramblers demand that the ‘Welsh Government’ forces farmers to do their bidding or have their funding withheld.

Dontcha just love the term, ‘our land’. Another example of, ‘What’s yours is ours’.

Click to enlarge

The Ramblers merit this digression because they see Wales as an area for recreation. For them Wales is not a different country; where people witness their language and identity, the country itself, being destroyed by saturation tourism.

What should also make you angry is that these memsahibs, based on Cathedral Road (ideal for rambling), and others just like them, have more influence in Corruption Bay than we poor natives will ever have.

WHAT THE POLITICIANS SAY

That ‘our’ politicians go along with ‘Playground Wales’ is easily explained.

The Labour Party, which has managed Wales since 1999, is an urban party with little concern for rural areas. Labour has no coherent economic plan for the countryside so pretending there is a ‘strategy for tourism’ is a useful way of disguising this inadequacy.

The truth is that tourism is unregulated; it just ‘happens’, and things would carry on in much the same way if the ‘Welsh Government’ fell into a wormhole and reappeared in some distant galaxy. (Stop dreaming!) Making bodies like Visit Wales little more than bystanders, pretending they do something more than organise beanos where they hand out awards and grants.

Click to read article and play video

One of the few things to be said in its favour is that tourism reveals the inconsistency, if not the hypocrisy, of the Labour Party.

Wales must be covered in wind turbines to save the planet, says Labour. For the same reason, OPDs must be allowed to impose their carbon footprint on previously unused land. Yet when our environment is trashed by tourist hordes on a regular basis Labour politicians are blind to the environmental damage!

Another example of Labour’s hypocrisy might be promoting renewable energy, saving the planet, and worrying about the underprivileged . . . while giving millions of pounds to Aston Martin to build £200,000 cars doing 12 miles to the gallon.

The ‘Welsh Government’s declaration of a climate emergency is just bullshit to explain away Wales being lumbered with the wind turbines English communities refuse to accept, and having to accommodate Jane Davidson’s friends.

The Conservative and Unionist Party (plus the fringe BritNats) will support tourism because they will never object to anything that both anglicises Wales and keeps money flowing back to England from staycations in Wales.

Blind, unthinking loyalty to tourism probably explains the comment, quoted in the North Wales Pioneer, from Darren Millar, the MS for Clwyd West, addressing Glyn Daniels’ pound a head suggestion. In Millar’s view, “This is a bad idea. Every pound charged will be a pound less for people to spend in the local economy”.

If Darren Millar had thought before speaking he’d have realised that every pound charged would be guaranteed to stay in the locality, unlike money taken in other ways.

What’s more, those who drive to Yr Wyddfa – to park here, there and everywhere – are often day-trippers, from Greater Manchester, Merseyside and towns nearby. Some will arrive having filled the fuel tank before leaving England, bring a packed lunch, and go home without spending a penny!

For the environmental damage alone, these buggers should be charged £20 a head.

While Plaid Cymru . . . well, what can I say? Plaid Cymru nowadays doesn’t give much thought to Wales. They’re too busy facing up to the fascist hordes they see advancing, outing terfs on social media, and planning more dirty tricks against Neil McEvoy.

Though maybe it’s best they stay schtum, because when they do address the subject – as we’ve seen with Gareth Thomas – they only confirm that they’ve lost the plot.

Whenever a political party, or a politician, says, ‘Wales needs tourism’ they are either lying or exposing their ignorance. The truth is only arrived at by reversing the phrase to read, ‘Tourism needs Wales’.

To conclude this section on a more optimistic note, Wales has two new political parties – Gwlad and the WNP – who I’m sure will take a more analytical, and patriotic, approach to tourism.

I expect both to demand a form of tourism that works for Wales, and the Welsh. Rather than what we suffer at present – an alien enterprise with Welsh people nothing but helpless bystanders as their country is trashed.

MAKING TOURISM WORK FOR US

Let me set out my stall . . .

  • I want to see an industry offering visitors from all over the world quality tourism.
  • An industry that provides business opportunities and well-paid, permanent  jobs for Welsh people.
  • An industry that benefits Wales and her people without the cultural, social and environmental damage currently being inflicted by tourism.

Here are just a few suggestions for achieving these objectives:

1/ Tourism tax: A minimum charge of £2 per head per overnight stay, including those in self-catering accommodation. This to be collected by the owner of the property or site and paid to the local authority.

This money will used in the areas from which it is collected or on capital projects of more widespread benefit. Why not consult local people on how they’d like to see it spent?

Tourism tax is raised everywhere and it benefits local communities. I recall Silvio Berlusconi having to pay a local tourism tax in Sardinia when he docked his luxury yacht, the Bunga Bunga.

2/ Caravan sites: These is no place for these blots on the landscape in a country promoting quality tourism in a respected environment. They offer holidays on the cheap and the money they put into the local economy is overstated. Very few jobs are created and the major beneficiary is the site owner, often a foreign company.

Caravan sites should be phased out over a period of ten years with no replacement ‘vans, cabins or lodges permitted. Thousands of acres could be returned to agriculture or Nature by getting rid of them.

Farmers and others should be allowed small sites of perhaps no more than 50 units.

To maximise tourism income, business opportunities and jobs we should strive to have as many people as possible staying in serviced accommodation.

3/ Raising standards: In New Zealand – a country with which we often like to compare Wales – they have a School of Tourism, operating on eight campuses throughout the country, internationally respected and offering a wide range of courses.

In Wales, all we do is teach Siôn and Sioned elementary catering skills at the local sixth form college so they can work for Kevin from Stockport who owns the local hotel . . . since he bought it off Keith and Sharon from Coventry. Kevin, of course, will have had no training.

Or it might be Paul and Rowena Williams at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor. Or their business partner, Myles Cunliffe. (‘Weep for Wales’ passim.) Or perhaps Siôn and Sioned can get a job at one of the hotels owned by Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

Or perhaps not, seeing as all the businesses owned by these crooks are closed and/or in the hands of receivers.

Which is why other countries insist on a proven level of proficiency, and background checks, before anyone is allowed to run a hotel. But here, money is all that matters. As long as you’ve got the dosh you can buy a five star hotel, and run it badly, thereby damaging the reputation of the locality, and Wales.

You can even buy a zoo without knowing anything about the care of animals!

4/ Permits: New Zealand provides another example worth following. (And NZ isn’t alone in this.) I’m referring now to limiting numbers visiting environmentally sensitive areas and issuing those visiting with permits.

If you live outside Wales and you want to go hiking in one of our national parks then you should pay £20 a year. For the three national parks you pay £50 a year. If the National Trust can charge us to visit sites in our own country, why can’t we do something similar and use the money for our benefit?

Again, the money raised would be used within the local area.

Click to read article

5/ Airports: You don’t need to go as far as New Zealand to realise the value of a good airport. Scotland is a much nearer example. Overseas tourists, high-spending overseas tourists, fly directly to Glasgow and Edinburgh. They do so all year round.

All we have is Cardiff airport, kept afloat by public money and still losing out to Bristol. We obviously need a new, more accessible airport in the south. We also need one in the north. Why not revamp Llanbedr airfield? It would be better to have overseas tourists flying in than to have the place used – as at present – for testing inaccurate drones that will wipe out wedding parties in Afghanistan.

Well-heeled foreign tourists flying in also offer opportunities for taxi and car hire firms.

6/ Public Transport: Overseas and other tourists not wanting to drive will need public transport. An integrated public transport system is therefore essential. This would have to include a north-south rail link.

The ‘Welsh Government’ has prevaricated for years over re-opening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line. That’s because doing so would offer no obvious benefits to Cardiff or to England.

Yet you’d think that an administration dedicated to saving the planet would prioritise public transport. But no, and this lack of commitment to public transport – apart from the Cardiff Metro (to benefit the Cardiff economy not the environment) – is yet another example of Labour’s hypocrisy.

7/ Funding: A major obstacle to Welsh people getting involved in tourism – other than as cooks and cleaners – is a lack of finance.

The ‘Welsh Government’ could divert a portion of the funding it squanders on third sector memsahibs into a pot accessible to young Welsh people who’ve been through school, got a few years practical experience under their belts, and now need funding to branch out on their own.

I appreciate that this is not how tourism is supposed to operate in a colonial context, but what the hell – let’s give it a try!

8/ Touring caravans and Camper-vans: I’m throwing this one in more as a traffic safety measure and a means of lowering blood pressure, but it’s definitely related to tourism.

No towed caravans or camper-vans should be allowed on any public highway between the hours of 6am and 10pm.

CONCLUSION

Tourism in Wales can be summed up as hundreds of thousands of people driving east to west along overcrowded roads, congregating in unsustainable numbers at certain points, staying in the cheapest possible accommodation (if they stay at all), and spending as little money as possible before driving home. Each wave succeeded by the next, and each wave contributing to erosion.

So, what do you think – should we continue to accept ‘Tourism at any cost’?

I say no. I say we reject the idea that Wales exists to provide cheap holidays for our neighbours. Wales should not provide anything to anyone on the cheap.

But the political will must be there to make the necessary changes.

If the political will is absent then we as a nation have every right to defend ourselves from this exploitation of our homeland, this assault on our very identity.

♦ end ♦