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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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?

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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.”

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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?

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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 . . .

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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”.

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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).

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ♦




Miscellany 06.06.2020

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

After the Jake Berry saga it’s time to move on, though we stay on Ynys Môn for the first couple of pieces, before pushing on, even visiting the city of my dreams.

This is another ‘biggie’ but as usual with this format it’s broken down into digestible portions. So there’s no need to rush, you can take your time. Enjoy!

YNYS MÔN

As we used to hear in the old black and white movies, ‘Dead men tell no tales’. Maybe not, but on Ynys Môn dead men do put in planning applications.

In the previous post, Jake Berry MP, Part 4, I mentioned a property that had swum into view in the course of my investigations into Berry’s little empire. This property may have nothing to do with him, but it became interesting in its own right when I realised that a planning application was submitted in August 2019 – by a man who died early in 2017.

Let me explain, for those who may be unfamiliar with the planning system, that you don’t need to own a property to submit a planning application. A builder, an architect, a relative, even a prospective buyer, can submit a planning application, but this must be done with the consent of the owner. Which presupposes that the owner has not departed for the celestial realm.

Now in this case on Ynys Môn the owner was long dead, and those submitting the planning application knew he was dead. We know they knew because they’d put his name on the planning application with ‘(Deceased)’ alongside it!

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Which is difficult to explain; the Will was a straightforward transfer, so why didn’t the person who’d inherited the property put her name on the planning application?

Another curious feature – though it obviously links – is that the Land Registry title document still shows the late Mr Cuddy as the owner. Which might explain why, after putting out a tweet asking why the council had accepted this application from a dead man, I got a Twitter response from the Land Registry.

The LR reminded those in the thread that there is no legal obligation for anyone to update a title document. Which is unfortunately correct. But I believe we are all entitled to know the ownership of property. And money being laundered through property transactions is another reason for making immediate re-registration mandatory.

Does the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ have the power to legislate in this area? And if so, does it have the balls to do what needs to be done?

On the planning matter, I cannot believe that a dead man can be named as the applicant on a planning application. Which calls into question why Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn accepted that planning application.

Again, if this is legal, it should not be. And if the ‘Welsh Government’ can legislate to outlaw the absurdity of dead men making planning applications, then it should do so. Pronto.

Land Registry documents not updated after three years and planning applications in the name of a dead man suggest something is not quite right.

YNYS MÔN 2

I don’t want to paint Ynys Môn as Wales’ Sicily, but strange things do seem to happen there. One I dealt with fairly recently was the sale of the Shire Hall in Llangefni to Tristan Scott Haynes.

Last year I wrote Not another one! about the sale, and there was a January follow-up in Wales, colonialism and corruption (scroll down to ‘Llangefni Shire Hall’).

To put it mildly, Haynes has a ‘colourful’ past, but the county council saw no problem in selling him their old Shire Hall. And the sale was completed 22 August 2019 with money Haynes had borrowed from Together Commercial Finance Ltd.

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The caption tells that Haynes is managing director of Chief Properties Ltd and he also runs a “successful haulage firm”.

Chief Properties was set up in August 2018 for the purpose of buying a property like the Shire Hall. The accounts tell us that the company has fixed assets of £201,942 (the Shire Hall) but is in debt to the tune of £12,460.

As for the “successful haulage firm”, well the next meeting of shareholders will be delighted to learn that Falcon Transportation Ltd‘s total net assets come to £21,282. Roughly what they were the year previously. A truck?

Go back to the caption under the photograph and you’ll read, (Haynes) had never been to Anglesey before identifying Shire Hall as a possible location”. Which suggests that he found it online. And that any building, anywhere, might have done.

But for what purpose?

As far as I’m aware no work has been done on the Shire Hall, certainly no planning permission has been applied for, so why did Haynes borrow money to buy a building that he seems to have lost interest in?

And having bought it, why is Haynes so reluctant to inform the Land Registry? For the title document says that the council still owns the Shire Hall. So why doesn’t the council contact Haynes and ask him to update the LR document?

And if the county council has washed its hands of the Shire Hall don’t the burghers of Llangefni worry about the fate of one of their town’s prime assets?

RHODRI MORGAN AND THE WDA 

It’s generally agreed that despite certain failings the Welsh Development Agency was doing a good job in attracting inward investment, and to this day many people still don’t understand why it was done away with.

A comment to the previous post seemed to provide an answer:

“If any target should be in your sites (sic) in terms of Wales’s failing economy, it should be the former First Minister ‘Saint’ Rhodri Morgan. It was he, in a temper tantrum, midway through a phone call with the CEO of the Welsh Development Agency, threw his toys out of the pram when his instruction that the WDA should spend a chunk of it’s budget in a constituency of Cardiff where a certain Mrs Morgan was sitting MP. The CEO politely advised that this request could prove difficult because Cardiff was not in an EU Assisted Area . . . A person present . . . related that the First Minister threw his phone across the room. When he had calmed down (10 minutes later) he rang the CEO back and said that he was scrapping the WDA and bringing it’s functions under Assembly control. The CEO replied ‘Congratulations First Minster, you have just ruined the economy of Wales’ . . . In the 1980’s, 1990’s and into the 2000’s Wales, largely but not exclusively, due to WDA activities, secured 22% of all inward investment into the UK, an incredible achievement . . .  Sadly, the Assembly, with it’s suspicion and dislike of any ‘specialisms’ and groaning under the dead hand of so many ‘Sir Humphreys’ presided over the rapid decline of inward investment so that today, it stands at 2% of the UK figure. When the WDA was scrapped, Development Agencies in other countries were delighted . . . I was present at the party held by the Scottish Development Agency to celebrate the demise of it’s principal competitor for inward investment. English Estates, the Development Agency for England, was equally delighted for the same reason. That’s the real story of Wales’s decline as an economic force . . . It will be a huge challenge to reverse this decline, but with the right approach, and a massive change of attitude in Cardiff Bay it conceivably could be achieved.”

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This contribution was reinforced in an e-mail from another source which, after a few tweaks, I’m allowed to publish as you see below. This source was also close to the action at the time in question.

“I don’t know (the writer of the comment), but the account with regard to Graham Hawker (CEO) telling Rhodri Morgan he’s screwed the Welsh economy is correct. 

While there is much talked about the WDA and it’s dealings in its early to mid years, in its later life it was an organisation of people (predominantly Welsh people) who actually gave a fuck about trying to lift the prosperity of the country. To this day, I am convinced that the termination of the WDA was done out of both jealousy by Welsh Gov and also a disregard by WDA to service the needs and wants of Ministers as they became more and more demanding for information from the organisation. It was not designed to service Welsh Government. It was designed to deliver economic development to external customers and it did it well. 

To be fair to Hawker, he had instigated a re-organisation programme that would have addressed some of the issues, but Morgan had made his decision for the bonfire of the quangos. Hawker had resigned in front of Senedd committee. He made Morgan look stupid, who then asked him publicly to reconsider his resignation. He didn’t and he left.  

Following Hawker, Gareth Hall was installed as Welsh Gov’s puppet CEO. Rhodri Morgan stated publicly that WDA staff would not see any change in the transition to Welsh Gov. That was total bollocks. There was a culture of cleansing any entrepreneurial spirit and drive in the organisation and a clear move from answering to the WDA board to Ministers. Hall was very close to Marc Clement of Swansea Uni fame. The WDA was being steered by Andrew Davies as Econ Dev Minister at the time, again with close links to Swansea. Make of that what you will. 

It is clear that the politicisation of economic development has killed off any hope of raising Wales’s GDP above 75% of the UK average. We are still below it and I blame total and utter mismanagement of EU funds coupled with what you write about regularly – pushing funding to the third sector ‘economy’, crap pet projects (Cardiff Airport) and shysters. 

Welsh Gov is a broken organisation. It cannot deliver economic development, full stop. 

The wind up of the WDA is a case study of how to destroy exemplar economic development practice and then replacing it with fantasy policies of inclusion, sustainable development, socialist ideologies and then paying those organisations who advocate such tripe to turn up in the Senedd committees to back you up.” 

Most students of Welsh politics know that Rhodri Morgan was the kind of man Doctor Johnson would have described as ‘clubbable’; a man who could be relied on for the witty quip or the diverting anecdote, but hard work was not really his bag.

The manner of the WDA’s demise tells us a lot about Rhodri Morgan and the Labour Party. Both quite happy to destroy what they cannot control however damaging such a course of action might be for Wales.

The incident also exposes the damning contradiction of ‘Welsh’ Labour – forever banging on about employment, blaming ‘London’ or the Tories for Wales not having enough decent jobs, but the beast itself is ideologically and temperamentally opposed to the business and commerce that would provide good jobs because it cannot control them.

‘Keep Wales poor, keep Wales dependent, keep Wales voting Labour’?

The first source reminds us that with the WDA gone Wales’ share of the UK’s inward investment fell from 22% to 2%. While the second source tells that the loss of the WDA saw the rise of the third sector, which is under the control of the Labour Party because the ‘Welsh Government’ controls the purse funding.

To the point where, in the parallel dimension that is Wales, third sector bosses receive awards for achievements in business.

Port Talbot and Afan Women’s Aid is a well-funded third sector body where – as with all third sector bodies – most of the money goes on salaries. Yet in Wales the third sector is regarded as ‘business’. Click to enlarge.

From 2007 until 2011 Labour was in coalition with Plaid Cymru, but Plaid made no attempt to bring back the WDA, for Plaid Cymru is another party made up of social workers, academics and others who think making profits and creating jobs is dirty.

‘Filthy capitalism, innit!’

Much better to live on hand-outs from England. Then enjoy the power of patronage that goes with distributing someone else’s money without the bother of creating it. That is, without the hard work involved organising a national economy.

Which is exactly how the Labour Party views devolution.

And explains why the cycle of decline will continue after next May’s election when Labour will fall short of a majority and need another coalition with Plaid Cymru to stay in power. Plaid Cymru will jump at the opportunity.

And Wales will continue to decline . . . with regular ‘dead cat on the table’ episodes of virtue signalling.

BRIGHTON GREENS DISCOVER GOWER

In my younger days I spent a lot of time on Gower. Oh yes. An aunt and uncle had a house above Port Eynon when such properties could be bought cheaply because most tourists came from within a radius of 40 or 50 miles. They came for a day trip or a holiday, but few of them thought of moving there permanently.

It was on their doorstep, they could visit whenever they liked.

School holidays spent crabbing at Port Eynon were succeeded by teenage years fishing just about everywhere for bass, with Worm’s Head a favourite spot.

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In the twenty-first century it was inevitable I suppose that Gower would attract the eco-colonists, those who want to ‘live off the land’ . . . usually someone else’s land, often thanks to big dollops of public funding, and invariably by ignoring planning regulations.

And lo! it has come to pass.

To read the WalesOnline report from which the above image is taken just click here.

The Furzehill project is the brainchild of the Ecological Land Cooperative of Brighton. That is Brighton on the south coast of England. What attracts them to Wales is the One Planet lunacy, which proclaims that in order to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint people must be attracted to Wales to farm virgin land, burn wood, drive vehicles, and generally impose themselves on what were often pristine landscapes.

This is virtue signalling, big time, introduced when Jane Davidson was Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing from 2007 to 2011. This may also have been the period when the ‘Welsh Government’s ‘All Farmers are Bastards’ strategy was formulated. (Was ‘Game Show Gary’ [ahem] ‘advising’ Davidson?)

Nominally, Davidson was AM for Pontypridd, but she didn’t give a toss about Ponty. She was in Corruption Bay to promote her environmentalist friends’ agenda. The rest of the Labour Party could see the advantage in this because it gave scope for virtue signalling on a global stage while putting the boot into rural electorates that refuse to vote Labour.

Davidson went on to become an academic (of sorts) and an even more outspoken advocate for eco-invaders like herself.

Here’s Davidson’s book on her work in government that culminated in One Planet Developments (OPD) and Future Generations legislation. Which have done nothing for us Welsh (it wasn’t intended to) but has achieved brownie points for a party and a system that, while running Wales into the ground, gets plaudits from people like Nikhil Seth who know sod all about Wales.

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Furzehill is important, and should be watched, for the following reason.

Up until now OPDs have argued that they improve marginal land or even bring life back to abandoned farms. But Gower is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AOUB). The first area given AOUB status in the whole of this island.

I expect Swansea council to refuse planning permission for these ‘hobbit houses’. If that happens, then there will almost certainly be an appeal to the ‘Welsh Government’. And if those clowns allow the Furzehill project to proceed then National Parks will be the next target for the eco-colonists.

Which makes this application the thin end of the wedge. So watch it carefully. Click here for the council planning portal and enter 2020/0744/FUL into the Search box.

THE LABOUR COUNCILLOR WHO DESTROYED YMCA WALES

For those unfamiliar with the area, the Llansamlet ward is on the east side of Swansea, above Bonymaen and east of Morriston, straddling the M4. At its edge, Birchgrove runs into Skewen merging Swansea with Neath.

It was an area where the Welsh language was still strong when I was a boy, and Swansea’s first Plaid Cymru councillor was elected by Llansamlet’s voters in the youthful form of my old mate Dr John Ball.

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Since then, it’s been pretty much downhill. The ward has been represented by a  succession of Old Labour time-servers, enlivened recently by a few exotic imports.

I’m thinking now of Robert (‘call me Bob’) Clay, privately-educated former MP for Sunderland North and his Austrian-born wife Uta. Both moved on in 2017 and I’m told that these devout Marxists now live in a very agreeable detached property in rural Carmarthenshire.

Llansamlet returned another four Labour councillors at the 2017 elections, among them Maureen ‘Mo’ Sykes, of whom I have written before. To remind you . . . Mo Sykes was CEO of YMCA Wales yet under her ‘leadership’ things went to hell. To the extent that YMCA Wales ceased to exist.

The organisation leaked money, she herself left under a big cloud in July 2014, YMCA Wales went into administration in September, the jewel in the crown – Newgale Outdoor Education Centre in Pembrokeshire – was flogged off for £507,000 in June 2015, and the abandoned branches of YMCA Wales were told to affiliate to YMCA England.

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They were welcomed with open arms by YMCA England for adopting the ‘national brand’.

‘Our Welsh cousins’ Urgh. Click to enlarge

So in the age of devolution we took another step backward. The ‘Welsh Government’, which had funded Mo Sykes and should have been asking what the fuck had gone wrong, showed no interest. After buying a nice detached house on a quiet street in Clydach (for a surprisingly low price) Sykes was handed a safe seat for the 2017 city council elections.

All this is covered in YMCA England(andwales) with links to previous articles.

And now, if my sources are correct, she’s going home to the Six Counties after living off the public purse for years and doing her bit to integrate Wales into England.

If so, good riddance.

LEENA SARAH FARHAT

Soon after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis Nation.Cymru insulted us with an article by Leena Sarah Farhat telling us that Wales was full of racist cops. I made a comment, suggesting she apologise to our police, but my comment was removed. Bizarrely, left up were comments from an unhinged wokie (not from Muskogee) attacking me in very personal terms!

This moron seemed to think I’d deleted my comment, and even when told he’d taken a wrong turn he kept marching purposefully into the bog. I’ve had dealings with him before, and he’s typical of his kind. Because I’d called him ‘little boy’ or something he tried to brand me a paedophile by suggesting I thought I was dealing with a child!

No, ‘Alan’, I’m know exactly what I’m dealing with, son. A twat.

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It got so fractious on the state-subsidised mouthpiece for Plaid Cymru run by the saintly Ifan Morgan Jones that he had to pull all the comments. Something he had to do again on Friday when reporting that Martin Shipton, Chief Correspondent of the Western Mail, had lost his judging job at the Book of the Year Awards, run by Literature Wales, after being targeted by the wokies. (Tell me about it!)

(And if you want a definition of colonial establishment, look no further than Literature Wales.)

But I digress. Who is Leena Sarah Farhat?

From what I could gather, she works at Aberystwyth University. She is also Diversity Officer for the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and their candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. I’m sure she knows Castell Newydd Emlyn and Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn like the back of her delicate hand.

Anyway, later that evening I had one of the strange e-mails I get quite regularly. What I’m describing is the internet age’s equivalent of some bloke emerging out the shadows, collar pulled up and hat pulled down, looking furtively around before handing me the slip of paper that will unravel the mystery.

Or maybe I watch too much film noir.

The terse message contained a link, which I was loath to open in case it contained a virus. But I took a chance and the link took me here. To begin with, I wasn’t sure where I’d landed (I feared it might be one of those pornographical sites I’ve read about), but as I took it in I realised it was some kind of social media platform with people asking Leena Sarah Farhat questions.

Some of her answers were quite strange, others disturbing. Here’s a selection.

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Make of it what you will, but here’s my interpretation. Here we have another ‘progressive’ party desperate to be seen to be ‘inclusive’ recruiting someone on whom they haven’t done enough checks, and who turns out to be, if not anti-Semitic, then certainly tacking towards that port of call.

With Plaid Cymru it was Sahar Al-Faifi, with Labour . . . well, take your pick, and now, not to be left out, the Lib Dems will incur the wrath of the Board of Deputies. Good.

ONLY HERE FOR THE MONEY?

An e-mail I receive daily (but often don’t have time to read properly) comes from Business News Wales, which last Wednesday carried tidings of a £750,000 investment by the Development Bank of Wales and others in Agxio Ltd.

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Both the headline and the opening paragraph report that Agxio is based in Aberystwyth. Yet according to Companies House Axgio’s address is actually in leafy Dorking, in Surrey.

What’s more, Agxio is a one-man band, and that one man is Dr Stephen Christie. To read Dr Christie’s Linkedin bio he’s been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. It’s only a matter of time before that photo on his mantelpiece of great-uncle Hamish in his pith helmet makes way for a Nobel Prize.

From Linkedin we learn that since 2011 Christie has been CEO of Neural Insights Ltd, another company based in Dorking. His wife is the only other director. The latest accounts show a company where liabilities exceed assets, though the figures are small. The accounts are ‘filleted’.

Then there’s his chairmanship of MemberMatch Ltd, which helps golfists find playing partners. But he doesn’t seem to have ever been a director, let alone chairman. The latest unaudited financial statement reveals another company in the red.

Dr Christie’s only other extant company, formed in August 2018, is Inbotiqa Ltd. This has Net Liabilities of £107,131 for 2019; which was, admittedly, a big improvement on 2018. The accounts are unaudited.

Something that struck me about Inbotiqa was the massive share issue. Hundreds of thousands of shares.

And it looks similar with Agxio, which is getting funding from the Development Bank of Wales. Dr Currie seems to have spent a great deal of his time figuring out the share issues, just check the filing history.

Don’t get me wrong, Dr Stephen Christie might be a very clever bloke, but his greatest talent may be issuing and selling shares rather than producing anything, or creating jobs.

Furthermore, his ‘presence’ in Aberystwyth may be no more than a letter-box, and so I question whether Agxio should be receiving a penny of Welsh public funding.

INDEPENDENCE PUSH LEAVES PLAID CYMRU BEHIND

The latest poll findings from Professor Roger Awan-Scully for ITV Wales and Cardiff University are intriguing.

To begin with, Coronavirus seems to have impacted on the Conservative vote as if the party’s voters had been confined to care homes; down 11 percentage points from the April poll to 35% for Westminster elections. Labour is up 4 to 39% and Plaid Cymru also up 4 to 15%.

For Welsh Parliament elections, the figures are (constituency first, list second):

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Those figures were fairly predictable. Of more interest were the responses when people were asked questions such as: “If there was a referendum tomorrow on Wales becoming an independent country and this was the question, how would you vote? Should Wales be an independent country?”

In answer, 25% said Yes, but 54% said No. When asked whether the Assembly should be abolished, 25% said Yes, 48% said No.

To the multi-option constitutional question the responses were:

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As you’re probably aware, a great deal has been made of a figure of 33% in favour of independence. This figure is only arrived at when respondents are given the stark choice between doing away with devolution or going for independence. When the returns were:

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Certainly, these findings are generally encouraging. But there’s a long way to go. What I extrapolate from these polls is the following:

  • Devolution is increasingly discredited. After more than two decades of failure it is under pressure from both those who want independence and those who want integration with England. (Which is what abolishing the Senedd would amount to.)
  • Plaid Cymru is making little progress despite the increase in numbers prepared to consider independence. There is clearly scope for other parties, especially if those parties are more focused on Wales and Welsh issues.
  • No account is taken in these polls of how events in Scotland could impact on Wales. I believe that Scotland becoming independent would greatly increase the numbers in Wales choosing independence.

There’s a lot to play for in next year’s elections. And beyond.

FACEBOOK

As you may know, following a complaint by Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen, currently building a property empire on Ynys Môn, Facebook took down the links I’d posted to the articles about him on this blog.

Well now I’m locked out of my Facebook account altogether, yet it appears to still be open to others. There seems to be no appeal process so is there any way I can just close my Facebook page?

All help gratefully received.

♦ end ♦





Miscellany 27.04.2020

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

Here’s something to keep you occupied in these long days of lockdown after you’ve finished mowing the lawn, walking the dog, and counting your bottles of Malbec.

This is another bumper issue, some 4,500 words, but it’s made up of a number of unrelated reports, so there’s no need to gorge; take your time and enjoy!

A PEOPLE THAT ISN’T TAUGHT ITS HISTORY . . .

I watched a documentary the other week about Arthur, Duke of Brittany, who may have had a stronger claim to the English throne than his Uncle, John, and his claim was even supported by John’s brother, Richard I, ‘Coeur de lion’. Having raised an army to challenge his uncle, young Arthur blew his opportunity, was captured and – if contemporary rumours are to be believed – came to a particularly gruesome end.

The killing was even covered in the Margam Abbey chronicles.

The programme established that John was a very nasty piece of work, possibly a psychopath. He also drank heavily and often flew into uncontrollable rages. It was best not to be around him when he’d ‘taken a drink’ (as great-aunt Fastidia might have phrased it).

My ears pricked up when one of the contributors to the programme, seeking to establish John’s credentials as an all-round murderous bastard, mentioned his killing of young Welsh hostages at Nottingham castle. This was something I’d never heard about, so obviously I checked. It was true.

At a low point in his glorious career Llywelyn Fawr was held in check by his father-in-law John by the surrender of some 28 young hostages, sons of Gwynedd’s leading families. When Llywelyn next flexed his muscles the boys were hung from the castle walls. Reported here in ‘Nottinghamshire History’.

“In order to keep the Welsh Prince Llewellyn in subjection, John, had taken as hostages 28 boys, ranging from 12 to 14 years of age, and kept them in his Castle at Nottingham. It is said the news came to the King while staying at his hunting palace at Clipstone that the Welsh Prince had again broken out in revolt. Hastily summoning his followers, he held a Council beneath the spreading branches of an oak tree (now known as Parliament Oak), when the execution of the hostages was decided upon. Then he swore ‘by the teeth of God’ that he would not eat again until he had wreaked his vengeance, and mounting his steed, he rode in all haste to Nottingham Castle, where he gave instructions for the execution of the hostages, as a preliminary to quelling the rising; and the shameful order was immediately carried out before his eyes, the boys being taken from their play—some screaming, others pleading in vain for mercy—and hanged on the Castle walls.”

Main gate of Nottingham Castle. Click to enlarge

Both the murder of Arthur of Brittany and the killing of the hostages are in some accounts attributed to William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber, who often served as John’s very willing torturer and executioner.

The title Bramber comes from the family’s castle in Sussex, but De Braose was more active in the March, as Sheriff of Hereford and Lord Abergavenny. And while John was reviled in the north west William made his enemies at the opposite corner of the country, due to the Massacre at Abergavenny Castle in 1175.

The facts are that Seisyll ap Dyfnwal, ‘Lord of Upper Gwent’, was invited to a Christmas feast at the castle, along with his eldest son, his followers and their attendants. Being invited guests, they followed custom and left their weapons outside. Once inside, the doors were locked and de Braose’s men attacked and killed their Welsh guests.

It is then rumoured that after the massacre de Braose rode to Seisyll’s home and killed his younger son Cadwaladr after snatching him from his mother’s arms.

De Braose’s behaviour is ‘excused’ by arguing that Seisyll ap Dyfnwal had killed de Braose’s uncle, Henry FitzMiles, so it was tit for tat. But attempting to wipe out the male lines of the leading Welsh families in the locality suggests de Braose was trying to expand his own land holdings.

In 1182 Hywel ap Iorwerth of Caerleon had Dingestow castle, near Chepstow, destroyed and Abergavenny castle burnt by Seisyll’s relatives. De Braose was not there but his men were taken captive.

After it was burnt again, this time by Glyndŵr’s forces in 1404, Abergavenny castle ceased to be used as a fortification and gradually fell into disrepair.

‘These were brutal times, they all behaved like that’, is what you’ll hear from defenders of the Union. But I don’t recall any incident in which our ancestors behaved with such barbarity, depravity and duplicity.

If they had, we’d have been taught it in school. You can be sure of that.

ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS REVISITED, AGAIN

Back in December – in an update – I mentioned that a Neil Moyse, who lives on a OPD at Tir y Gafel in Pembrokeshire, is applying to build another OPD at Llyn Adain Gwydd, near the village of Meidrim in west Carmarthenshire. The village to which I trace my direct paternal line.

To get the planning application details type W/39846 here.

In a nutshell, Moyse wants planners to believe that a family of four will be able to support themselves as gardeners on 1.63ha of land, even though a great part of the holding will remain uncultivated. Much of it, in fact, is water, accounting for the ‘Llyn’ element in the name.

But any property built in such an attractive location will be valuable, especially if it is imaginatively ‘extended’, perhaps in the manner of Bryn Llys, at Nebo. Which, I’m sure you’ll recall, transmogrified from a traditional Welsh farmhouse into a mansion betraying the aesthetic sensibilities we associate with Lottery winners, or in this case, a gang of fraudsters.

Bryn Llys before and after the ‘extension’. Click to enlarge

I’m not for one minute suggesting that Moyse is a crook like those at Bryn Llys, but neither am I persuaded that this is a simple One Planet Development. And if the Moyse family moves to Llyn Adain Gwydd what happens to their property in Pembrokeshire?

My understanding was that OPDs offer a chance for people to exchange the crass materialism of the modern world for lives attuned to the rhythms of nature, not for building property empires.

All of which would be reason to reject this application, but a little bird in the tree tells me that Moyse and his kin are pretty irresponsible to boot.

For I hear that during this period of lockdown the Moyse family travels almost every day from their Pembrokeshire property to their new lakeside estate near Meidrim. Is this ‘essential travel’? And now they’ve even pitched a tent!

My little bird also says . . .

“Black sheeting . . . ‘shines’ across valley and due to cutting down of many trees is much more open to view.  . . . people turned up today in massive camper van looking . . . to camp out . . . The wood behind Mr Moyse’s plot belongs to Woodlands.co.uk. This wood has camper vans sited in it that are there illegally.  People are coming and going and fire smoke can often be seen.  They have blocked the public footpath and even after representations from local council have not reopened.  These are friends of Mr Moyse . . .”

As I’ve explained many times before, OPD is just another tactic in the wider strategy of dispossessing us Welsh and replacing us with a new population. Because in 20+ years of devolution those cringing bastards down Corruption Bay have done nothing to benefit those who belong in this country.

And if you want an example of the ecological credentials claimed by these OPD land-grabbers, then I’ll let my little dicky bird finish its song with, “otters and geese that have been nesting and breeding for decades have not been near this year.” 

Visualise an unspoilt area of Welsh land, a sylvan gem. Would you rather see otters gambolling there or gangs of arrogant English hippies in camper vans and silly houses, incessantly burning wood while pontificating about saving the planet?

The greatest contribution these people can make to the Welsh countryside is to leave it.

GARY HAGGATY

Gary is a senior civil servant, but more importantly, the lover of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment Energy and Rural affairs in the ‘Welsh Government’.

In the piece in which he debuted a few weeks back I mis-spelt his name as Haggarty. Sorry about that, Gary, but we all make mistakes.

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Anyway, I asked if anyone had information on Gary, so I could ‘pad out’ his biography, as it were. And I had a few responses, so here’s some more information that I put out recently. Here in pdf format.

I’m told he’s originally from Portsmouth, or thereabouts. He is said to have been a leading light in the Young Socialists, or its replacement, Young Labour.

How Gary came to Wales is unclear – did he attend university here? – but until some 10 or 12 years ago he was employed in in the ‘Welsh Government’s regional office in Llandrindod Wells, and he is believed to have lived in Abbey Cwm Hir.

‘Game Show Gary’ left his wife and child/children for another woman, a younger woman who was also a work colleague. Gary is said to be a great one for ‘helping’ young female colleagues. Very much a hands-on approach.

Once in Cardiff, as Head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Strategy, and administering the Glastir and Farming Connect programmes, he stated, more than once, that “Farmers in Wales are over supported and under taxed”. His hostility towards farmers was made clear in other ways.

And yet, despite his openly expressed hostility towards Welsh farmers he progressed within the ‘Welsh Government’s departments dealing with farming! In May 2016, Lesley Griffiths was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs. This would have brought her into direct connect with Gary Haggaty . . . and their contact soon became very direct.

When the affair between Griffiths and Haggaty became public knowledge last year he was assigned the post of Deputy Director, Community Safety Division within Welsh Government. And if you’re wondering what the Community Safety Division is, it’s an excuse for Wales not having power over policing. In the early days of devolution it was known as the Crime Reduction Unit.

Up until his transfer Haggaty was advising Lesley Griffiths on ways to make life difficult for Welsh farmers, done in order to make land available for hippies and rewilders, eco-zealots and zip wires. In other words, anybody but the Welsh.
Seeing as they’re still an ‘item’ he’s probably still advising her.

But forget the affair. The real cause for concern should be that a man like Gary Haggaty, with his blatant and regularly expressed hostility to Welsh farming, should ever have been in a position of influence within the ‘Welsh Government’.

But he was. And there are many other civil servants like him in Wales, who answer to London, dictate to the ‘Welsh Government’, and do serious damage to our country and our nation.

I’m sure there are people out there with more information on ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty, so just leave it in the usual tree-trunk.

AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE

We have 48 bodies in Wales ‘combating homelessness’. (Or did have in 2017, now it’s probably more.) You might think that with so many battalions in the field Wales is on its way to victory over homelessness, but that would be to misunderstand the strategy at work and the objective.

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There are CEOs pulling down £80,000+ a year and many other Labour Party cronies doing very nicely out of maintaining high levels of homelessness . . . so this is a ‘war’ that must not be won.

Among the major players in the homelessness racket is Llamau, which has appeared on this blog many times. Like so many third sector bodies in Wales Llamau seems to be run by female English disciples of Common Purpose, the liberal freemasonry, who specialise in screwing public money from thick-as-shit Labour politicians with no better ideas on how to use money.

Here’s a little tale about Llamau’s CEO which gives an idea of how things link up in Cardiff Bay, and the incestuous political culture that prevails in that cess-pit.

In the ongoing – unending? – leftist-third sector witch-hunt against Neil McEvoy, Frances Beecher was one of the complainants. (And was almost certainly encouraged to make her fatuous contribution by Deryn Consulting.)

So did Neil McEvoy turn up at the Llamau offices with a can of petrol in one hand, a lighter in the other, a wild look on his face as he sang the Arthur Brown classic, Fire? Er, no, but he had raised his voice at a public meeting! Oh, the bwute! The bwute!

But enough history. For I bring tidings of Llamau expanding.

There was an organisation called the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project (SYSHP) which did good work in the ugly lovely town for almost thirty years, but on 1 October 2019 it merged with Llamau. Or rather, Llamau took it over 3 October 2018, when the SYSHP trustees/company directors were given the heave-ho and replaced with Llamau appointees.

Among the replacements was lawyer Thomas Graham Breed who – on 23 January this year – became a director of Capital Law in Cardiff. (Belated congratulations, Graham.) This is one of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’s favoured legal firms. A great deal of Welsh public money goes to Capital Law.

It was obviously a hostile takeover and you have to wonder why SYSHP succumbed to it so meekly. Were they told it was a fait accompli, and given the choice between takeover and collapse?

It being a done deal might explain why the Supporting People Grants (the mainstay of SYSHP funding), administered by the ‘Welsh Government’, fell from £832,938 in y/e 31.03.2018 to £644,215 in y/e 31.03.2019.

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While other funders, including the Lottery, thought SYSHP was a good enough bet to increase their funding.

It’s very odd, because with such well-connected and influential new hands on deck you would expect ‘Welsh Government’ funding to have increased . . . unless, as I suggest, it was an engineered failure to facilitate complete takeover.

According to the latest available accounts for SYSHP as a condition of the takeover “. . . the charity (SYSHP) will meet all of its liabilities and then transfer over the remaining assets to Llamau at their fair value . . .”. but Llamau now owns the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project, and its assets.

I can only assume that all outstanding debts and charges are to be paid out of the remaining SYSHP funds and whatever is left transfers to Llamau. Including the prime assets of 51 & 52 Walter Road in central Swansea.

What we see here is another example of an organisation using its influence in Cardiff Bay to promote itself in other parts of Wales at the expense of rivals who do not have the ear of our wise and incorruptible tribunes, and do not socialise with the civil servants who manipulate said tribunes.

This phenomenon – the norm in third world countries – explains so many things. For example, it tells us how Wales & West Housing has become our only truly all-Wales housing association.

Another manifestation of this phenomenon, one I note as I travel around, is that Cardiff estate agents get business all over Wales. It’s so sad that there are no estate agents in other parts of the country.

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Yes, devolution’s been good for some in Cardiff. As long as you’ve got the connections.

DAWNUS 3B

Around this time last year I did a few pieces on the collapse of Dawnus, a Swansea-based construction and civil engineering company. These were Dawnus, Dawnus 2, Dawnus 3 and (scroll down to) Dawnus 3A.

Dawnus did a great deal of work in West Africa, and it was suggested that Ebola in that region went some way to deciding Dawnus’s fate. For the company’s decline was said to have begun with the Ebola outbreak in January 2014.

Not long after Ebola hit we saw the arrival on the scene of Nicholas Charles Down, whose Linkedin profile suggested he’d worked mainly outside the UK. Though it’s difficult to figure out if he’d been brought in to try to save Dawnus or to administer the last rites.

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Whichever it was, once he took over the Dawnus group it was downhill from there on. Here’s a list of the Dawnus companies with which Down was involved. You’ll see that they’re all in administration or liquidation except Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP. Though Companies House makes clear that Medrus went the way of the others.

And now it appears that Down is neither the director of any company nor is he involved with a Limited Liability Partnership. So where did he go?

The reason I got interested in the Dawnus story was that I received a number of reports saying that the most valuable machinery was shipped to West Africa towards the end of 2018, when the shit was visibly heading – if in slow motion – towards the fan.

The photographs below that were sent to me purport to show the heavy stuff en route to the docks for shipment to West Africa.

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But even before then, much of the good stuff was already in Liberia and Sierra Leone. As this charge of 27 March 2018 against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd makes clear. Just scroll down and see how much plant and machinery was in Africa.

Two companies emerged from the catastrophe. The first was Dawnus International Group Ltd, formed 22 March 2019, which shook off the ‘Dawnus’ tag by becoming DIG International Group Ltd less than a week later. The second was DIG Civil Engineering Ltd, formed 9 April 2019, but still a non-trading company according to Companies House.

The two companies shared an address in Clydach before moving last month to Stradey Business Centre in Llangennech, Llanelli. Which is interesting, because this gives me the opportunity to introduce another player in the form of Hydro Industries, also based at Stradey Business Centre.

You’ll have to go back to last year’s articles to get the full import, but to cut a long story short, there has always been military and defence industry involvement in the margins of this saga. French defence giant Thales being one of the players. For a time Thales had a presence on the same Llanelli estate where we find the DIG companies, and Hydro Industries.

The thing about Hydro that I found remarkable was who got involved with this rather obscure little company in Sosban last year. Though it might be relevant that among the original Hydro directors is arch BritNat and former chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, David Pickering.

In June 2018 Guto Harri joined the board of Hydro. That’s Guto Harri who regularly appears on Newsnight, the former BBC journalist and communications director for Boris Johnson when BoJo was mayor of London.

Harri was soon joined by Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de’Lisle, who is course French, and the wife of Admiral Insurance founder Henry Englehardt. Then came Henrietta Baldock of Bank of America and Legal and General Assurance. With Robert Brooks as secretary. ‘Who him?’ I’m not sure, but I guarantee he don’t live round by ‘ere.

There’s no doubt in my mind of UK government involvement in the demise of Dawnus. Our masters in London might not have caused the Dawnus collapse but they took advantage because Dawnus was involved in a strategically important region.

Hydro Industries’ reward for whatever part it played in the Dawnus saga was a major contract in Saudi Arabia, that murderous theocracy that helps to keep the British arms industry afloat. A few days later a £150m contract in Egypt was unveiled.

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I suggest that the involvement of the UK government explains why the ‘Welsh Government’ offered Dawnus no real help – the pretend politicos down Cardiff docks were warned off.

Around the same time Hydro ‘won’ the Saudi and Egyptian contracts its business address moved from Llangennech to Berkeley Square in West London. (That’s Berkeley Square of nightingale fame.) Quite a move for a company started by a bunch of Turks.

So who now owns Hydro Industries?

Come to that, who now owns the machinery in West Africa? Was it shipped home to pay off creditors? I doubt it very much. Those shipments of machinery from Wales to West Africa in late 2018 were made to keep assets away from liquidators and creditors. That machinery and equipment is there now winning hearts and minds, and combating the spread of Chinese influence.

The irony is that Hydro Industries, and to a lesser extent Dawnus, provide clean drinking water to those who realise the importance and value of this essential commodity. While here in Wales, the whining invertebrates calling themselves the ‘Welsh Government’ are quite happy to give away our water!

UPDATE: I’ve been sent something that links with both Dawnus and the point I made in the earlier section about Cardiff estate agents getting the work all over Wales. This is the old Dawnus depot in Clydach, up for sale on Prime Location, with details available from Alder King of Cardiff, which has its HQ in Bristol.

OH GOODY! ANOTHER WIND FARM

A few years back there was an attempt to plant yet more wind turbines near the A44 as it snakes its way up from Aberystwyth to meet the A470 at Llangurig. The project was imaginatively named Mynydd y Gwynt.

Those behind it seem to be a family of local landowners who’d already diversified in a number of ways. To promote its scheme the clan had linked with Isle of Man-based company Renewable Energy Holdings Plc.

The scheme was knocked back and finally rejected by the Court of Appeal in London in March 2018. And while the IoM outfit went bust in March 2016 the local element of the doomed consortium, Mynydd y Gwynt Ltd, is still in business. Though in April 2016 it moved its correspondence address from Ffynnon Wen, Capel Bangor to c/o Haines Watts, 7 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff.

Now there’s another wind farm scheme, this one called Lluest y Gwynt. The company Lluest y Gwynt Wind Farm Ltd was formed in June 2018 . . . just months after the Court of Appeal hammered the final nail in the Mynydd y Gwynt coffin.

So is Lluest y Gwynt just Mynydd y Gwynt under a slightly changed name, and at a site very close by?

The image at the top comes from the Cambrian Mountains Society and the image below from the Planning Inspectorate, prepared by Dulas. Click to enlarge

Behind Lluest y Gwynt we find Statkraft, “Europe’s largest developer of renewable energy”, a company wholly owned by the Norwegian government. In partnership with Statkraft is Eco2 of Cardiff. Eco2 chairman is Peter Darwell, said to be worth a bob or two.

There have been a few dozen Eco2 companies over the past twenty years but the most recent additions to the stable have been, Eco2 LYG Limited, Incorporated 24 May 2018. And Eco2 Dulais Limited (27 November 2019). Darwell is the major shareholder in both, with a line-up of shared directors.

The documents received by the Planning Inspectorate for Lluest y Gwynt can be viewed from this link.

Statkraft, like all investors hoping to exploit poorer countries, seeks out those with access to the local ‘chiefs’. So it has linked with Cardiff-based Eco2 to gain access to local politicians and decision makers.

I’m sure that Statkraft is hoping Eco2 CEO Dr David Williams will be able to help. For having served as chairman of the ‘Welsh Government’s Energy and Environmental Sector Panel from January 2011 to August 2018 he must know a few movers and shakers down Corruption Bay.

There’s nothing new in this. When I wrote Corruption in the wind? in November 2018 I recounted the amusing tale of a mystery woman frantically lobbying in April 2017 on behalf of those behind some Powys wind farms. (Scroll down to section headed ‘Mystery woman’)

That woman was Anna McMorrin, live-in lover of Alun Davies AM, who became the MP for Cardiff North in the June 2018 election. McMorrin wasn’t employed by the investors behind Hendy and Bryn Blaen wind farms because she knew owt about wind turbines, she was employed solely because she knew people down Cardiff docks who could make the decisions the investors wanted.

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And it’s the same with Statkraft and Eco2.

Lobbying down Corruption Bay isn’t restricted to Deryn Consulting and other lobbying firms, for Labour insiders also feather their nests from knowing who to schmooze. And Labour Party insiders doing so well from this system explains why there is no register of lobbyists down the Bay.

Will Lluest y Gwynt succeed where Mynydd y Gwynt failed? Perhaps. But why should we cover more of Wales with ugly and inefficient wind turbines to kill red kites and other birds while increasing the risk of flooding, and all done to enrich a company owned by the government of one of the richest countries on Earth?

Finally, it’s worth remembering that Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, will have a big say in whether or not to allow Lluest y Gwynt wind farm, So who do you think Statkraft and Eco2 should have a quiet word with; you know, someone who might be able to influence her?

Watch this space.

‘SEASONAL PROPERTIES’, AN UPDATE

In the previous post I reported on a minor act of vandalism in Pwllheli and the bizarre response of North Wales Police.

Someone painted ‘Go home’ on a number of holiday flats near the marina and GogPlod responded by waxing lyrical about key workers staying in these properties, even pleading, ‘How would you like it . . . ?’ – even though no one was staying in them! I described this contribution from the local gendarmerie as ‘bollocks’, even questioning whether it had originated with the police.

Though I was certainly enchanted by the new term, ‘seasonal properties’.

But the police were right, key workers have been staying in these flats . . . key workers from Birmingham, on holiday. What’s more, they’ve threatened to beat up the local councillor who reported them!

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I couldn’t make this up!

I’m beginning to suspect that when it comes to holiday homes or ‘seasonal properties’ the police would rather not be bothered. Yes, they’ll do some patrolling on main roads for the benefit of the cameras but confronting some selfish bastards sitting it out in their or someone else’s holiday home is just too much trouble.

AND, FINALLY . . . 

There are those who say, “Oh there’s nothing wrong with devolution, it’s the fault of the Labour Party. Get rid of them and everything will be fine”. Having given this view the consideration it deserves (about 0.3 seconds) my response is – bollocks!

Wales is now so hopelessly corrupted, its political class, public officials and burdensome third sector motivated either by serving themselves or else serving England – often both – that nothing short of very radical change can improve things for the great majority of our people.

Consequently, any intellectual under-achiever who suggests that things would be better with a Plaid Cymru management team in Cardiff Bay, or a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition, should receive either a pitying pat on the head or a kick up the arse. (Perhaps depending on whether you’ve ‘taken a drink’.)

If next year’s Assembly elections go ahead we must ensure there are not enough AMs from Labour and Plaid Cymru to form a coalition. That must be the starting point for the change Wales needs.

♦ end ♦




‘This land is (y)our land’?

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 recent years I’ve written a few articles – too many to list here – about the unrelenting assault on Welsh farming and rural life. A campaign that sees Welsh politicians used as puppets by senior civil servants serving interests other than those of Wales and Welsh people.

This post is in the form of an update.

THE GATHERING STORM

Arraigned against our farmers are politicians in London of assorted political hues, left-‘Green’ politicians in Corruption Bay, civil servants linking Westminster and Whitehall with Cardiff docks, and land-grabbing ‘environmentalists’ who tend to be either strident memsahibs or darlings of the Guardianistas.

Last week, during a Skype-enabled session of the Senedd, Lesley Griffiths AM, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs – working on the principle that a pandemic is a good time to slip out bad news – announced the release of Draft Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

The timing certainly surprised and angered our farming unions. National Farmers Union Cymru was ‘astonished’, while  the Farmers Union of Wales agreed that the proposals are ‘draconian’.

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Now on the one hand, we all want cleaner water. But it looks as if Ms Griffiths and her friends have been over-zealous in their attempts to give us crystal clear rills, rivers we can cross by walking on the backs of spawning salmon, and lakes home to old slappers catching the swords that are regularly chucked in.

But on the other hand, we don’t want to drive farmers out of business using sly and underhand methods. Well, I don’t, but there are some who do, and Ms Griffiths is an ally of theirs, possibly no more than a tool.

In both statements you will see reference to Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ). This term is used to describe areas, “that contain surface water or groundwater that is susceptible to nitrate pollution from agricultural activities”.

The percentage of Welsh land designated NVZ currently stands at 2.4% (750 farm holdings) and there was an understanding that the percentage would increase – Natural Resources Wales recommended 8% – but Ms Griffiths has proposed that the whole country becomes a NVZ. (So you’ll understand the response of the farming unions.)

A NVZ consultation process launched by the ‘Welsh Government’ 29 September 2016 ended 23 December 2016, with the findings being published just over two years ago. You can read the ‘summary of response’ here.

A flick through those responses makes it clear that farmers’ bodies were outnumbered by angling clubs and environment groups, a number of them Englandandwales bodies. (I’m thinking here of the National Trust, the RSPB, Marine Conservation Society and the Angling Trust.) And the way the responses came in suggest that members and supporters were whipped into line.

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One question considered the effects of an All-Wales NVZ on the Welsh language. There was a majority view that enforcing an All-Wales regime would be damaging to the Welsh language because the (often unnecessary) expense involved could prove too much for the smaller family farm. But in the very last paragraph we read:

“One respondent who agreed with the question thought language should not be a fundamentally important factor in any new regulations. However, it was essential that a Welsh identity was maintained through clean waters and a beautiful countryside.”

So there you have it. Remove Welsh-speaking farming families and Welsh identity will be perpetuated by the water nymphs and sword-catching slappers to which I heretofore alluded.

But I repeat, I want to see clean rivers and lakes; it’s just that I believe this can – and must – be achieved without waging war on the farming community. Which is what it seems motivates Ms Griffiths and her pals, using the findings of a consultation process skewed by those with many years experience in such dark arts.

This proposal to extend NVZ must not be looked at in isolation, for it is part of a wider strategy to ‘discourage’ traditional farming and open up the Welsh countryside to new ideas . . . and a new population.

The assault began in May 2009 with the publication of ‘One Wales: One Planet’. This is what the UN had to say about it:

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Which means that pleasing a few thousand hippies and eco-fanatics was seen to be more important than providing an economy, a health service, an education system an infrastructure, and all the other things needed by three million people.

And remember! in 2009 Wales was managed by a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition.

‘One Wales: One Planet’ led, in October 2012, to the ‘Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6, which allowed One Planet Developments. A measure intended to attract hippies into Wales and allow them to build what they like, wherever they choose; with local planning authorities forced to give them planning permission, often retrospectively.

Wales is the only country in the world to have enacted this hippies’ charter.

Next, in December 2013, we saw Alun Davies, then Minister for Natural Resources and Food (therefore Ms Griffiths’ predecessor) transfer 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy funding from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. In practice, this saw £286m taken from farmers and allocated to rural development projects.

No prizes for guessing what ‘rural development projects’ means, and who benefits.

Fifteen per cent was the maximum permitted by the EU and the ‘Welsh Government’ showed its attitude to farmers by going for broke.

Then we had the Well-being of Future Generation Act (Wales) Act 2015 promising sunshine, lollipops and roses . . . and cushy jobs for Labour Party cronies. Such as the first Future Generations Commissioner herself. Sophie Howe is the daughter of a former Cardiff Labour councillor, and previously worked for Alun Michael, erstwhile Labour MP and now South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.

No other country entertains anything like this bullshit.

More recently we have seen the arrival of the memsahibs and the Monbiots demanding huge swathes of our homeland in which they can play silly buggers. I’ve dealt with this in The Welsh Clearances of 16 October 2018 and a number of times since. Just type ‘rewilding’ or ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box on top of the sidebar to find these further contributions.

And to cap it all, we have recently seen outbursts from ‘trendy metropolitan eco-zealots’ and swivel-eyed advisers to Boris Johnson promoting the same idiocies.

ÉMINENCE GRISE

There is is no question that influencers have been working on the ‘Welsh Government’ for a decade or more, and they have tended to be men with little understanding of or sympathy for farming, and very often a poorly concealed hostility towards Welsh farmers.

We should not be surprised therefore that through the malign influence of this cabal Welsh farming has been weakened by one cut after another, to the advantage of the hippies, the memsahibs and the Monbiots.

They always encourage legislation against farmers, nothing is ever done for farmers.

Most of those I’m referring to have been mentioned in previous blog posts, but now I want to focus on one who has been rather overlooked, Gary Haggarty. No, this is not Gary Haggarty, the UVF killer and supergrass, but Gary Haggarty, former Rural Director for the ‘Welsh Government’.

‘Shared vision, united approach and consistent messaging are crucial to success’. Did you ever hear such vapid sound bites! Click to enlarge

But more importantly, Haggarty is the partner of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the ‘Welsh Government’. Their affair was kept secret for quite some time but has been widely known about for at least a year.

Haggarty has form, for he is said to be the genius behind the decision to take money off farmers with the 2013 ‘Pillars’ decision.

Responsibility for replacing of the Tir Mynydd scheme with the unpopular Glastir arrangement is also laid at his door. Glastir tends to regard traditional Welsh farming as just another rural activity, little different to organic hobby farming. Which of course fits perfectly with the overall strategy.

When Brexit came along Haggarty saw another weapon he could use and he rolled it out with the September 2018 consultation document, ‘Brexit and our land: Securing the future of Welsh farming’. The second element in that title is quite insulting considering what we know about Haggarty’s attitude to farming and farmers.

The ‘Welsh Government’s response to the results of the consultation process is contained in this document.

A further publication in July 2019 was ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land’, which was described by its ‘author’, Lesley Griffiths, as ‘revised proposals’ following the responses received to the ‘Brexit and our land’ consultation, also ‘authored’ by Griffiths.

Or were they, because of course the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs was in a relationship with a man on a mission to bring Welsh farmers to heel? And so I have no doubt that he wrote most of what appeared in these publications. And she was happy to let him do it.

Which means that a man with not a single democratic vote to his name is dictating policy to the wretched and useless ‘Welsh Government’. And Gary Haggarty is not the only one.

So much for devolution!

This relationship was known about in Cardiff Bay for a long time, but Haggarty was only reassigned when it became public knowledge. Yet the relationship was improper whether it was public knowledge or not. They should have been separated, professionally, as soon as the affair became known about.

BEST OF FRIENDS

As I say, the relationship between Griffiths and Haggarty is now out in the open, as shown by the image below, taken in a Dublin bar on 8 February, the day of the Ireland v Wales rugby international.

On the left we see the happy couple, and on the right, Elin Jones, the Plaid Cymru AM for Ceredigion and Llywydd (Speaker) in the Senedd. And is that Llais y Sais columnist Carolyn Hitt behind Jones? If so, what’s a nice girl like her doing there?

Gary entertaining the ladies with his Stan Laurel face. Click to enlarge

You could say that seeing Labour and Plaid Cymru politicians sharing a convivial jar in a Temple Bar pub shows how civilised Welsh politics is. Not really.

Could you imagine Elin Jones sharing a Guinness with Andrew R T Davies, or his successor, Paul Davies? Or enjoying a snifter and a risqué joke with Mostyn? (Neil Hamilton, to you.)

And if Neil McEvoy had walked through the door Elin Jones would have screamed, switched off his microphone, summoned the gardaí and demanded that they drag him off to Kilmainham to be summarily executed.

Let Uncle Jac interpret that photograph for you. What it says is this: In next year’s Assembly elections Labour will fall well short of a majority of seats, consequently its only hope of staying in power lies in a coalition with Plaid Cymru. Therefore a vote for Plaid Cymru in 2021 will be a vote for Labour.

So don’t be fooled by the playful sparring you’ll see in the election campaign. It’s only done to fool mug punters. Don’t you be one of them!

Something else that strikes me is that Elin Jones, from a farming background, has no problem socialising with people inflicting so much pain on Welsh farming. A testimony to the amnesiac qualities of the Cardiff Bay air.

Or possibly Deryn Consulting.

AND, FINALLY . . .

There was a piece of good news for our farmers last week. And unwelcome news for those wanting to displace them. For that’s where we’re at: two sides, one still in possession of its ancestral land, and the other prepared to use all manner of tactics to take possession.

This is semi-naked colonialism, with native ‘friendlies’ who have jumped into bed with the enemy justifying their treachery by pretending it’s done for the greater good of saving the planet.

The news I’m referring to is that academics conclude that planting trees everywhere, which is what many of the would-be ethnic cleansers advocate, would do more harm than good for the environment.

“The report comes from the Natural Capital Committee (NCC), which says planting trees into peat bogs would prove a serious mistake.”

But don’t worry, for those pulling Lesley Griffith’s strings will still want wind turbines plonked on peat, to cause flooding and other problems – and it will all be done in order to save the planet!

Left to these people, Welsh identity itself will be destroyed . . . to save the planet. Gesture politics all the way.

Devolution does not work for us Welsh. Devolution benefits a colonial management class that just rubber-stamps decisions made by strangers acting against the Welsh national interest. We must move on to independence and reclaim our country from both our external enemies and their internal allies.

♦ end ♦

 

 

UPDATE 16.04.2020: Conservative MPs from Wales have written to Lesley Griffiths condemning her treatment of Welsh farmers over NVZ. (Did they also send Gary a copy?) Will Plaid Cymru also defend our farmers, or will they side with their Labour friends? (Available here in pdf.)

Click to enlarge

 

 

Miscellany 17.02.2020

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

A bit of a mixed bag this week; the unifying thread being the stupidity of those puffed-up buffoons down Cardiff docks who want to be seen as the ‘Welsh Government’.

SOCIAL HOUSING, OR IS IT?

To kick off, I am indebted to the meticulous and conscientious Wynne Jones, who is a great source for ‘Welsh Government’ wrongdoing and local cock-ups down Cardigan way. For it’s in the fair town of Aberteifi that we start.

With Cardigan Hospital, which was built and long sustained by the donations and goodwill of people in the town and surrounding area. But now it’s deemed surplus to the requirements of Hywel Dda University Health Board and the building is to be handed over to one of Labour’s favourite housing associations, Wales and West.

Though the lack of openness has not gone down well locally. The sale to Wales and West seems to be a done deal, yet the details are vague in the extreme. When Wynne asked for information on the quoted ‘open market valuation’ the response to his FoI said that it, er, hadn’t actually been done . . . but they were working on it, sort of.

Clearly, this is a deal done behind closed doors in the glorious traditions of the Labour Party. And not for the first time; for since taking over Tai Cantref, of Castell Newydd Emlyn, Wales and West has been flexing its muscles in the area.

And while it may be headquartered in Cardiff Wales and West, fittingly, also has an office in Labour’s last remaining Westminster constituency in the north, at Ewloe on Deeside.

The latest news is that a drop-in session has been organised for the end of this month in which, according to the Tivy-side Advertiser, “The people of Cardigan will be asked for their views on how best to use the site of the former Cardigan Hospital”.

Click to enlarge

According to the article W&W is still in talks with Hywel Dda Health Authority over buying the hospital. So if it still owns the hospital why isn’t Hywel Dda organising the public consultation?

All pretence goes out the window later in the article when Wales and West bigwigs explain what they plan to do . . . with the building they haven’t yet bought!

Group CEO Anne Hinchey, the wife of Cardiff Labour councillor Graham Hinchey, makes a contribution. Also quoted is her deputy, Shane Hembrow, who for reasons best known to himself cultivates the look of a villain out of a Victorian melodrama. (Who will rescue poor Nell?)

All joking aside, social housing is now in crisis.

Many will recall the campaigns persuading council house tenants to agree to stock transfers, so that housing associations could take over. Most Welsh councils lost their housing stock in this way to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).

Which gave us dozens of housing associations, spending hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, competing with each other, and swallowing each other up. Having the ear of the Labour Party in this dog-eat-dog environment was always an advantage.

All this was threatened when, towards the end of 2016, the Office for National Statistics dropped a bombshell by announcing that RSLs would in future be classed as public bodies.

Click to enlarge

This was bad news all round. For it would have meant that RSLs’ debts would have gone onto the UK Government’s books. Putting them in the public sector might also have resulted in more openness, perhaps making housing associations subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This unwelcome outcome was avoided by fresh legislation in England and the devolved administrations. For Wales, it came in the form of the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018.

Which resulted in RSLs becoming private bodies, but still in receipt of public funding! If they hadn’t already done so then they set up subsidiaries – unregulated offshoots building homes for sale on the open market, often using public money siphoned from the parent company.

The justification for building houses and flats to be sold in this way was that the money made would be transferred to the parent body for it to build more social housing.

It was a lie.

Just think about. If Tai Cwmscwt has a spare £5m why ‘lend’ it to a subsidiary and get back a percentage when it could have spent the whole £5m on social housing. And if there’s no demand for social housing then obviously Tai Cwmscwt is over-funded.

The truth is that very little of the money made by the subsidiaries of privatised RSLs is used to build social housing. Most of it goes back into building more private housing. In rural and coastal areas this housing isn’t even intended to meet a Welsh demand. It’s simple profiteering, building properties to be used as holiday and retirement homes, or sold to ‘investors’.

All of which results in a shortfall in social housing in many areas. Which is why Swansea council has started building council houses again. In the article I’ve linked to you’ll see that “four registered social housing landlords are planning to build 4,000 affordable homes across the county over the next 10 years”.

This is another lie.

‘Affordable’ is a meaningless term used by politicians and others that can cover properties costing £300,000. And as I’ve explained, the now privatised RSLs will be building open market housing not social housing.

Cardiff council also plans to build council houses. Other local authorities are doing the same.

We are obviously at a crossroads in the provision of social housing, by which I mean properties available for local people at rents they can afford.

The biggest asset for many private housing associations, the income from which helps fund the private building spree, is the stock of housing that was transferred from a local authority. (Or in the case of Mid Wales Housing, the Development Board for Rural Wales.)

Should these stock transfers stay with what are now private companies?

Let’s end with a few questions:

  • What is the future role of the now privatised RSLs?
  • Will the ‘Welsh Government’ continue to fund private RSLs?
  • With RSLs concentrating on private developments how does the ‘Welsh Government’ plan to provide an adequate supply of good quality rented social housing at affordable rents?
  • If the rented social housing role is to revert to local authorities, will the ‘Welsh Government’ arrange to return the housing stock lost in stock transfers?

OLD DEFENSIBLE BARRACKS REVISITED

The week before last I published a couple of pieces looking at the purchase of the Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock, which I believe links to similar sites in England and Northern Ireland that have been bought by the same Singapore-based investors.

Read them here: Old Defensible Barracks and Old Defensible Barracks 2.

My view is that the three sites – all close to ferry ports – have been bought in anticipation of the need, with increased border checks, for large areas where lorries and other vehicles can be parked while waiting for those checks to be done.

Since writing the second of those pieces I’ve updated it, and further information has come to light, hence this third piece.

First, after Old Defensible Barracks 2 went out 5 February the Western Mail ran a full-page spread on the 11th. (Here in pdf format.)

Click to enlarge

Obviously this article was a press hand-out because when the journalist tried to add a personal touch she located the barracks in Milford Haven not Pembroke Dock.

Since writing those pieces I’ve spoken to one of the previous owners, who had an interesting tale to tell.

The barracks went up for auction last summer with Allsop. A few parties showed interest but no sale resulted. Instead, Allsop themselves produced a mystery buyer. Which perhaps explains the ‘Sold after’ caption you see below.

Click to enlarge

The vendor had no idea who the buyer was, but the sale went through 22 August and the money was in the bank. You’ll recall that despite the passage of six months since the sale the title document at the Land Registry still showed the previous owners.

So I went back to the Land Registry website on Saturday thinking that the recent attention the barracks had been getting might have jolted the new owners into registering their purchase. But no, for the title document is still in the name of the local owners.

Why this reluctance to tell us who now owns this property?

As I’ve said, the theory that I and a few others have, is that the barracks themselves are simply a ‘lever’ to something else, probably land nearby that could serve as a lorry park. But then, last week, another possibility was thrown into the mix – that the Milford Haven Waterway is destined to host one of the promised freeports.

Either option makes sense, and ties in with the Singapore investors at the three sites we looked at in the earlier pieces. For not only is Singapore home to many Asian ferry companies it is also the biggest freeport in the world.

In addition to the investors who are probably native to Singapore we found Trevor Iain Walker, said to be resident there. Whether he is or not is a moot point, Companies House just accepts what it’s told.

Then, comments to the earlier pieces directed me to a US site where we encounter Walker again. And it’s definitely him.

In addition to the UK listed companies there are two more, both registered in Florida. Muniment LLC shares its name with a number of Walkers’s UK companies. The other company, Audica Properties LLC, seems to have been started by Walker in 2014 and then, last year, he was joined by Robin Lim Siew Cheong, who could be another Singaporean investor.

Cheong also has his own US company in Robindra Properties LLC, formed last year.

The picture in Pembroke Dock isn’t clear yet, but these Singapore investors haven’t rocked up to enjoy the view of Neyland. Something is planned for the Dock and it links with Brexit. I suggest it’s either a lorry park or a freeport. Maybe both.

Watch this space!

∼♦∼

THE GREEN ENERGY RIP-OFF

Because of my slant on certain issues some people think I’m opposed to renewable energy, or that I’m a climate change denier. The truth is that I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy – as long as it’s reliable and reasonably cheap; and I’m more of a sceptic than a denier when it comes to climate change.

But I am unequivocal in my hostility to charlatans and shysters, crooks and con men, who come to Wales to rip us off.

Recent examples of the Green energy rip-off you would have found on this blog were the wind turbines at Bryn Blaen that haven’t turned in two years (but still make money for the hedge fund that owns them), and the English-owned, Czech-built hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn that has offered locals a derisory £1,000 a year in ‘community benefit’.

Rhandirmwyn hydro scheme. Click to enlarge

I suppose the basic problem is that Wales has many rivers and streams suitable for hydro projects, and countless hills that will attract those who erect wind turbines. Even so, these natural assets need not lead to us being exploited.

The exploitation happens because virtue-signalling politicians are desperate to show the world that little Wales is playing its part in saving the planet.

It is this desperation to get a pat on the head that opens the gates to the shysters.

HOLYHEAD DEEP

Our next report takes up the coast from Pembroke Dock to another ferry port, at Holyhead, where a northern source suggests I take a look at a company in receipt of mucho dinero from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.

The company in question is Minesto, a Swedish company hoping to generate electricity from underwater ‘kites’. Here’s the company website.

There we read:

Click to enlarge

Certainly, the company has a presence in Sweden, because that’s where it’s based. Obviously, I can’t speak for Taiwan.

In Ireland the company’s existence was brief, perhaps no more than a separate listing for the company registered in England and Wales. And yet, according to the Minesto website and other sources the project at Strangford Lough is still running, so how is it being funded?

The sole director of Minesto UK Ltd is Martin Johan Edlund, with Goodwille Ltd serving as secretary. Goodwille takes its name from director George Alexander James Goodwille. The Swedish connection is maintained at Goodwille by director Svante Lennart Stensson Adde.

Before getting into the figures I’d just like to explore the linkages behind Minesto.

Let’s go back to the ‘About us’ panel above. It says that Minesto was founded in 2007 as a spin-off from Saab. That may have been what happened in Sweden, but Minesto UK Ltd was born in June 2008 when Keyrad Ltd, a company formed in 1996, changed its name.

The panel also says, “Main owners are BGA Invest and Midroc New Technology. The Minesto share is listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market in Stockholm.” Telling us that Minesto is wholly owned back in Sweden.

The Midroc link also suggests the underwater kite system belongs to that company.

If we go back to the Minesto website and the Projects tab, there we find Holyhead Deep, the name of Minesto’s Welsh venture. (There’s also a dormant company called Holyhead Deep Ltd, at the same Holyhead address, with the same Martin Edlund as the sole director.)

This website page explains why Minesto came to Wales: “Numerous locations around the UK were considered, but Wales was selected as the preferred option due to the highly suitable environmental conditions and government commitment to marine renewable energy, which offers significant opportunities to attract support and investment into the Holyhead project.”

To cut through the bullshit – the attraction was gullible politicians and easy money. With the panel below making clear that it’s already up to €27.9m.

A total of 27.9m Euros. Click to enlarge.

The extract below from the latest accounts would appear to show that Minesto UK Ltd is entirely dependent on ‘Welsh Government’ funding. I’m surprised there’s no money coming from Sweden. Because I guarantee that – as with Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in the south – any profits will speed their way back to Sweden.

Click to enlarge

So here’s the question – does this investment provide tangible benefits for Ynys Môn and for Wales, or are our politicians paying, yet again, to have their egos massaged and their planet-saving credentials burnished?

  • With £23m+ handed over or promised, how many jobs have been created for local, Welsh people?
  • Given that the owners of Minesto UK Ltd are Swedish, and the patent for the technology is held by a Swedish company, what benefits will accrue to Wales if the technology proves successful?
  • And if it fails, the Swedes walk away without having lost anything while Wales is £23m+ out of pocket.
  • Is funding from Wales being diverted to the Minesto project in Northern Ireland?
  • Are there no better ways to have used £23m+ on Ynys Môn for the benefit of local communities?

UPDATE: My attention has been drawn to one of the logos at the foot of the Minesto website, the one for Horizon 2020  “. . . the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract.”

So where is the ‘private investment’ in Minesto UK Ltd? Is Welsh EU funding being used in place of the private money?

LAST WORD

As I said earlier, I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy schemes, but they must be of benefit to Wales. But unfortunately they rarely are. Worse, much of what we experience could be viewed as colonialism for the 21st century.

Think of the massive wind farms such as Pen y Cymoedd (or the hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn) and the pittances offered to locals in compensation. It reminds me of Europeans in Africa or the Americas giving beads to ‘primitives’ in return for their assets or their land. Now we Welsh are the exploited primitives.

Yet we are supposed to welcome it because we’re saving the planet!

Those clowns in Corruption Bay, and their Westminster allies, who sold us short on water, and HS2, who talk Wales down and short-change us at every opportunity, must learn that people get angry when they see money squandered on virtue signalling.

I have a feeling they’ll be getting the message loud and clear in next year’s Assembly elections.

 ♦ end ♦

 

Bryn Blaen, the wind turbines that never turn

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

While you’re recovering from Christmas, getting your breath back for further excesses at New Year, just take time to read this little piece.

BRYN BLAEN WIND FARM

Just over a year ago, I wrote Corruption in the wind?, which was primarily about the Hendy wind farm, but I also mentioned the linked Bryn Blaen installation. And it’s Bryn Blaen I’m concentrating on here.

The six turbines of the Bryn Blaen wind farm lie to the north of Llangurig, the village you pass by if travelling north-south on the A470, and through which you pass if leaving the A470 to take the A44 down to Aberystwyth.

The ridge above Llangurig upon which Bryn Blaen wind farm now sits. Click to enlarge

Bryn Blaen wind farm is owned – in the first instance – by Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd, which was Incorporated May 18, 2011, though the company was originally known as Development Securities (No 74) Ltd. The project was funded with five loans from Close Leasing Ltd, a Manchester finance company that seems to have a keen interest in renewables.

Hendy wind farm not far away is owned – ditto – by Hendy Wind Farm Ltd, which was also Incorporated May 18, 2011, this time as Development Securities (No 71) Ltd. Thus far there is just one charge with Close Leasing Ltd.

(Development Securities (No 72) Ltd is now Rhoscrowther Wind Farm Ltd. More on Rhoscrowther in a minute.)

The immediate parent company in each case is DS Renewables LLP, which is in turn owned by U and I Group PLC. The U and I Group is a property company focused on London, Manchester and Dublin, but its portfolio extends beyond these cities and is not restricted to commercial and residential property.

Like most of its ilk the U and I Group pretends to be something better than just a property speculator. This clip from the 2019 accounts says it all.

Click to enlarge

In fact, at 229 pages, the 2019 annual report and accounts is quite a tome, though much of it is self-promoting bullshit.

Bryn Blaen appears on page 26, where we also find mention of Hendy and Rhoscrowther wind farms. The figures on the left are the ‘Previous target’ column while those on the right are ‘Realised gains/losses’.

Click to enlarge

We see that Hendy and Rhoscrowther have realised nothing; this is due to Hendy still being under construction, while Rhoscrowther was denied planning permission for a third time in April 2018 and appears to be dead in the water.

Bryn Blaen on the other hand has made a return of £4.7m, quite remarkable seeing as its turbines have never turned. This was being reported in January 2019 and little has changed, though I should report that some turbines have shaken the dust off recently . . . almost certainly powered by diesel generators, and done for the benefit of an increasingly sceptical local audience.

The reason Bryn Blaen is not generating electricity is hinted at in the image above, where it mentions ” . . . increased costs in connecting to the grid”. This alludes to a major problem. To wit, there isn’t the capacity on the existing local infrastructure to carry anything generated by Bryn Blaen.

All explained in this remarkable letter from concerned locals to Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, on December 18. You must read this letter.

You’ll see that it mentions a figure of £33,245,067. This can be found on page 7 of the 2019 accounts for Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd, as ‘Assets under construction’.

Though a closer look at page 7 of the accounts (shown below) tells us that Bryn Blaen Wind Farm’s true assets are in fact just £2,076. The thirty-three million figure is made up of debts, and page 15 explains that these are £21,410,000 in bank loans and £12,934,555 owed to U and I Group PLC.

(Wow! If debts can be counted as assets then Jac is rolling in it!)

Click to enlarge

All of which means that Bryn Blaen wind farm is just a pachyderm of a very pale hue, desecrating the Welsh countryside for no discernible benefit to anyone. And yet . . .

On page 9, paragraph 2.2, of the Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd accounts we read the passage below. The implication is that the debts (certainly the bank loans) will be repaid when Bryn Blaen is disposed of at the end of February 2020.

Click to enlarge

Which suggests that someone is going to buy a wind farm that cannot export any electricity it might generate . . . which is why it has generated nothing in the two years of its existence!

This episode raises a number of questions:

  • Why did the Planning Inspectorate overrule Powys County Council to give planning permission in August 2016 to a project that the most cursory investigation would have revealed was utterly useless?
  • Are there other examples like Bryn Blaen?
  • Turbines that have generated nothing for six months can be demolished, so will Lesley Griffiths now do as protesters request and have the Bryn Blaen turbines demolished at developers’ expense?
  • The U and I Group plans to re-submit a planning application for Rhoscrowther wind farm on Milford Haven Waterway; can we therefore assume that Lesley Griffiths will be instructed to approve this application?

The scandal of Bryn Blaen should be a matter of national concern, so don’t just leave it to the locals – you write to Lesley Griffiths, and to your local AM, asking what the hell has happened. Insist on Bryn Blaen being demolished. And demand more stringent checks on local grid capacity and other issues before planning permission is granted for any future wind farms.

WORSE TO COME?

At the risk of being accused of beating a familiar drum I am going to conclude this short piece by looking at the National Development Framework 2020-2040.

For those who may not be familiar with this document, it is the supreme planning guidance for Wales to which plans such as councils’ Local Development Plans (LDPs) and all sub-national strategies must conform. I wrote about it in August.

The NDF is big on renewable energy, as the map below shows. What isn’t given over to wind and solar ‘farms’ is largely accounted for by urban areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the proposed ‘National Forest’, and the vast area north of Aberystwyth promised to the Summit to Sea ‘rewilders’.

But I can’t help wondering what’s planned for that area between the A5 and the A458, east of Dolgellau.

Click to enlarge

Though I suppose the really big question is – who is going to benefit from this National Development Framework?

The individual beneficiaries will be landowners (often absentee), property developers like the U and I Group, and other English ‘investors’. Proving yet again that wind power is more about cashing in on the subsidies than with replacing fossil fuels.

But over and above the individual beneficiaries the National Development Framework is for the benefit of England.

Wind and solar farms won’t provide jobs for Welsh people. And we already produce far more electricity than we consume; yet as with water, we are not allowed to make a profit from what we export. (Though ‘our’ water and electricity can be sold back to us at over-the-odds prices.)

The National Development Framework allows Wales to be exploited as never before, but rather than standing up for Wales our current crop of politicians will rhapsodise over it.

Labour, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dems will bleat about Wales ‘making its contribution’ to ‘saving the planet’, etc., when, in reality, they’ll be turning our beautiful homeland into an al fresco power station. What isn’t covered by wind and solar farms will be retirement and recreation areas for England. Zimmer frames and zip wires.

Tory and Brexit parties will of course support anything that makes money for their pals in the financial sector . . . no matter how shady the deal, no matter how heavy the price Wales has to pay.

The Union with England has never worked to Wales’ advantage, but then, that was never the intention. Yet devolution, we were told, would provide ‘Welsh answers for Welsh problems’; but as Bryn Blaen, the National Development Framework, and countless other examples make clear, devolution is just a pitifully transparent veneer of ‘Welshness’ for continuing exploitation.

If we are to survive and progress as a nation it can only be done by prioritising our interests and focusing on independence without any distractions or self-imposed divisions. So let’s continue building momentum in 2020 on the broadest possible front.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany, 09.12.2019

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

People often say to me, ‘Jac, you’re a miserable old sod, why don’t you give us some good news, eh?’ To which I usually respond, ‘Because this is Wales!’.

In Wales, what passes for ‘good news’ is invariably political propaganda, what the media calls ‘human interest’ stories, or else straightforward bollocks.

If you want to read that the ‘Welsh Government’ is thinking of asking Ferrari to open a factory in Tredegar, or that a Denbighshire farmer’s wife has found the bracelet she lost some years ago (while being pleasured by an itinerant Kiwi sheep-shearer), then you’re in the wrong place.

I don’t make up the stories that appear here. They happen and I report them. If you don’t like them then do something about it – get rid of those responsible.

BRYN LLYS

I have reported on this barely credible story a number of times. If you want to catch up then start here (scroll down), then here (ditto), and here.

In a nutshell, a gang of crooks from England (Yorkshire, if you must know) bought an old farmhouse outside Nebo, near Caernarfon; they’ve done work without planning permission (or exceeded what permission they had), to the point where a monstrous new building has appeared and the old farmhouse has been demolished.

Cyngor Gwynedd has issued planning enforcement orders and a pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Caernarfon in early September. I’m told the gang turned up in court claiming they had no legal representation. So the case was rescheduled for Llandudno in late November. It’s now been put off until March, when Andrew Battye, Jonathan James Duggan, Shane Baker and Aaron Hill will probably demand another adjournment.

And by which time they will have done all the work they plan on doing.

Old and new. Click to enlarge

For the gang has plans that exceed even throwing up the ugliest house in Gwynedd, because there’s talk of glamping, zip wires, and God knows what else. For which of course there is no planning permission. Another difficulty is access, which has resulted in the Bryn Llys gang intimidating neighbours who object to them cutting down trees and demolishing hedges that belong to other people.

In recent weeks, a concrete bridge has been put in place, lorry loads of slate waste have been brought to the site and a road laid to provide a new access to Bryn Llys from the village of Nebo.

I hear from one source that while delivering this material a tipper truck belonging to Gwynedd Skip Hire of Caernarfon touched an overhead power cable. There was one hell of a bang, one or more of the truck’s tyres blew and Nebo, Talysarn and parts of Penygroes suffered a power cut.

Another source reports that the driver’s mate touched the body of the tipper and got “zapped” quite badly, he was said to be “black all over”. This of course was reported and has been taken up by HSE. I’m not sure if the police are involved.

Latest report says all is quiet, and suggests that local contractors may be getting reluctant to be involved with the Bryn Llys gang.

What an absolute shambles! Which doesn’t look like getting better any time soon.

Why is it that honest people are pounced on by planners for making a genuine mistake but crooks like these can brazenly flout the system for years?

What’s more, it’s nothing more than money-laundering in plain sight. What a system! What a country!

ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS

First stop, Parc Teifi on the outskirts of Aberteifi (Cardigan town), when we find a group of planet-savers who were given five acres of land for just £1 by our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’ under its Community Assets Transfer scheme.

The project was to be known as the Naturewise Community Forest Garden, and a company was set up.

When first announced earlier this year there was mention of ” . . . a horticultural large allotment type use, managed by a single body, run by volunteers for the wider benefits of the community”. Project leader Alpay Torgut also enthused about local involvement and “public events to involve as many people as possible”.

The ‘involvement’ desired soon became clear – unpaid volunteers and paying customers to fund what was increasingly obviously a One Planet Development.

The next step has to be getting people to pay to work there. Click to enlarge.

Why do I suggest that it’s a One Planet Development? Well look for yourself at the structures being erected on the site.

The one I show below is being used to house some kind of display, which could obviously be much more at home in a smaller structure. Though the structure we see would be an ideal roundhouse of the type favoured by OPD dwellers.

Note that the photograph – for which I thank Wynne Jones – was taken in July. Things have moved on since then.

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And now there’s a truly curious twist.

The land was given to the group led by Alpay Torgut under the Community Assets Transfer programme. The project is called the Naturewise Community Forest Garden. And yet the community cannot access the site because of a padlocked gate. (Again, I am indebted to Wynne Jones.)

The ‘Welsh Government’ has the key – but refuses to open the gate!

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Having consulted my crystal ball I predict that Torgut and his gang will soon be applying – and getting – retrospective planning permission for a OPD.

Next up is the OPD planned for Penybanc, Llandeilo, reference E/39554. On the surface this looks like a straightforward single OPD application, but things might not be that simple.

The OPD is planned for land to the south east of Caergroes farm in the Monordeilo and Salem ward of Carmarthenshire. The first point of interest is that the applicants, Matthew and Claire Denney-Price, don’t actually own the land. The land is owned by a Gwyn Jones of Trimsaran, who bought it last year.

To help you get the lie of the land I’ve compiled the illustration you see below.

The OPD is planned for the field on the right within the red boundary. Click to enlarge

There have been many submissions made to the council for and against the application. Of those in favour most live ‘away’ or just don’t give their locations, while local submissions are almost all opposed to the project. Some of the later go into considerable detail, often arguing that there is no way that the family unit of two adults and four children could sustain themselves on such a small area by sticking to the plan submitted.

Others worry that this application is the first for a settlement on adjoining land.

Someone who contacted me pointed out that the address given by Matthew and Claire Denney-Price on the planning application is 7 Yr Hen Marchnad, Llangadog. (Though I’m told that Claire Denney-Price is the only person on the electoral roll for this address.)

What struck my source was that at 9 Yr Hen Machnad was found Freedom Green Energy Ltd, certainly until the company moved its address to Brecon in March 2018. This company trades as FGE Biomass. My source suspects there may be a connection between this biomass company and the OPD application. Anybody out there know?

Finally, in this little excursion into the world of OPDs, news reaches me that all may not be well at one of the older communes. For I hear that smallholdings at Lammas are on the market. Certainly Berllan Dawel is for sale at £300,000+.

As I’ve reported before, all is not well in paradise. For two main reasons.

One is that the whole premise of OPDs is flawed, and economically unviable. The second reason is that when you put together, in close proximity, so many people absolutely sure that they – and they alone – know the correct way of doing things, then friction is inevitable.

UPDATE 11.12.2019: I’ve been informed of yet another OPD application. This one at Llyn Adain Gwydd, at Llangarthginning, near Meidrim, in north Carmarthenshire. The reference number is W/39846. (Type the number in here.)

The second line in that great song, You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive runs, ‘That’s the place where I trace my bloodline’, and that applies here; for my great-grandfather David Jones left Meidrim for Swansea in the late 1870s.

What’s strange about this application is that it comes from a Neil Moyse, who already lives in a OPD at Tir y Gafel, Glandwr, in Pembrokeshire. So are they now building OPDs to rent?

FOREIGN AID

Let me now lead you into the never-never land of Wales’ foreign aid programme. Or maybe it’s a maze. Though let me start by explaining that this section was prompted by someone sending me a tweet, one that started bells ringing. Here’s the tweet.

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The bells rang because SSAP is the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel and it’s had a couple of mentions on this blog, first in Wales: Corruption and Poverty and then in Bawso and friends.

The SSAP is both a charity (1159990) and a registered company. The Charity Commission tells us that it operates ‘Throughout England and Wales’ and then lists a number of African countries from Algeria to South Africa. (I haven’t checked the atlas, but it looks most African countries get a mention.)

And there was you thinking our tribunes down Cardiff docks had no international strategy. Shame on you! The ‘Welsh Government’ even has a Minister for Ugandan Affairs, and she’s doing a wonderful job.

Apart from organising self-congratulatory bun fights, such as the one in the tweet above, it’s difficult to know what the SSAP does. But before you get too worried let me put your minds at rest by telling you that funding in year ending 31 March 2019 was a mere £68,638, down from £97,899 the previous year.

Which could prove a bit tricky, because staff costs went up from £52,668 to £73,952 in the same period, when staff numbers increased from 2 to 3. Leaving nothing over to do anything really . . . except organise awards ceremonies and the like. So, basically, this is just another third sector scam providing sinecures for Labour Party hangers-on.

The accounts also tell us that while the main funder is Comic Relief the other major funder is the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA). So who are they? The introductory blurb tells us, ‘We want a worldwide Wales where everyone here contributes to creating a fairer and more peaceful world. We inspire people to learn and act on global issues through three programmes:’ which are then listed as, Global Learning, Global Action, Global partnerships.

All very worthy, no doubt, and vague to the point of vacuousness.

The CEO of the WCIA is Susie Ventris-Field, who’s worked her way up through the third sector – e.g. Chwarae Teg – and also spent time in Africa.

Susie is assisted by Emily who organises festivals such as the Green Man and Glasto. ‘Emily has a beautiful dog’, we’re told! Then there’s Philip, who ‘moved to Wales to join his wife in semi-retirement in 2014’. And Shaela, ‘who previously worked for the University of Leicester’. Amber is another who has come to live among us, and loves cats.

There may be one or two Welsh people hidden away in the cupboards but by and large the ‘Welsh’ Centre for International Affairs is yet another third sector body using Welsh public money to provide jobs for strangers doing ‘work’ of no benefit whatsoever to Wales. But then, isn’t that true philanthropy!

Talking of money, who funds the WCIA?

To answer that let’s start by looking at this clip (below) from the WCIA’s Charity Commission entry, which tells us that since it was registered in April 2014 income has gone up to £1,175,306.

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Which is not bad, when you think about it. In a time of economic recession, and with Wales having managed just fine up until then without it, someone decided that what we really needed was the Welsh Council for International Affairs.

So where does that money come from and how is it spent? Here’s the WCIA 2017-2018 Annual Report, which includes the accounts.

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Taking the second set of figures first we see that just under two-thirds of the income goes on salaries for no less than 23 staff. That will be Susie . . . Emily who has the nice dog . . . Philip who moved to Wales because we needed him so badly . . .

And after paying all their salaries there was still £197,145 ‘cash at bank and in hand’. That’s a lot of readies, suggesting they’re over-funded and looking for ways to spend money they don’t need.

Looking at the income in 2018, £238,156 came from Wales for Peace, but the biggest chunk, £639,893 came from Hub Cymru Africa. So who are they, and where does their money come from? (As if you didn’t know!)

Wales for Peace it seems only existed during the World War One centenary period (which probably explains the WCIA itself being set up in April 2014), and ceased to exist in December 2018. It wasn’t registered with either Companies House or the Charity Commission. From what I can gather on the WCIA website funding  for Wales for Peace came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Now let’s turn to the WCIA’s major funder, Hub Cymru Africa, which contributed £639,893 according to the latest accounts. Page 40 of the accounts tells us that this largesse came from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. In other words, us.

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Just as we met Susie and her gang at the WCIA, at Hub Cymru Africa we find another galaxy of non-Welsh stars spending Welsh money on non-Welsh issues.

Yet because Hub Cymru Africa produces no accounts and has no official existence we have no way of knowing how much Claire O’Shea and the rest of the team earn, or how many employees there are. Which is wrong, because they use public money and so this information should be readily available.

To recap: We started out with the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel. Funding levels there are not high, and all funding seems to be used paying staff wages.

One of the SSAP’s main funders is the Welsh Centre for International Affairs whose funding comes from Wales for Peace and Hub Cymru Africa. Roughly two-thirds of this funding goes on salaries. The larger funder, HCA, gets its money from the ‘Welsh Government’.

This system is of little use to the needs of Wales and Welsh people. It’s no more than virtue signalling on steroids. Steroids paid for with Welsh public funding. Instead of exposing and condemning this system Plaid Cymru desperately wants to be part of it, as we see with Helen Mary Jones at the SSAP bun fight.

The sting in the tail is that these people attracted to Wales by third sector money are often smarter than our politicians. (Which is not saying much, obviously.) And they exert undue influence in a country they regard as nothing more than a geographical expression.

This results in OPDs and other insanity to ‘save the planet’, or wanting to flood Wales with ‘refugees’ under the ‘Wales – Nation of Sanctuary’ project.

A country with homeless on the streets, where kids go to school hungry, where people die waiting for ambulances, apparently has millions of pounds to spare so that dilettante English activists and useless Welsh politicians can feel better about themselves.

Time to get rid of them all, and the colonial system they represent.

UPDATE 09.01.2020: The subject of foreign aid was raised in the Senedd yesterday’ Here’s a clip of the question, by Neil Hamilton, and the response from Rebecca Evans. Note the loud cheering at the mention of ‘Jac ‘o the North’!

THE CASE OF KEVIN O’NEILL’S PEANUT BUTTER

Someone has reported to me that the Labour Party in Merthyr is full of bullies, and engaging in dirty tricks. Of course, I refused to believe it, but my source was insistent.

I think the best way to tell you this is to copy and paste what I received, with a redaction here and a clarification there. So prepare yourselves, for I’m sure you will be as shocked as I was to read what follows.

“Since the May 2017 Local Elections where Independents took control of the (formerly) Labour-ruled Council, the Independent Councillors of Merthyr Tydfil have faced a barrage of Ombudsman complaints, uncooperative opposition members, false Facebook and Twitter accounts that have used intimidation, abuse and vulgar comments about the Independent Councillors but especially its Leader Kevin O’Neil and female Deputy Leader Lisa Mytton.

Unconfirmed reports from the Labour camp have talked of a split in the party with those who want nothing more than to ‘Disrupt and Destroy’ anything the Independent-led council tries to do for the good of Merthyr Tydfil.

In recent months the false accounts continued but the depths to which they and some of their party members will go unfolded in June 2019 when a whistle blowing member of Council staff couldn’t cope any more and they reported the verbal abuse and disregard for the two senior Cllrs that then culminated in the staff member entering the Cabinet office and kitchen opening the Independent Leaders food (a jar of Peanut Butter) and forcefully spitting in it while others looked on and returned it to the fridge.

A criminal investigation ensued and DNA was found in the jar, the DNA belongs to the wife of (a very prominent Labour councillor). His wife is an employed member of staff at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.

Is this what Labour have become? Is this how they treat those they feel politically threatened by? Is this what our residents and country want?

The Labour Leader must resign surely? The way Kevin O’Neill and other
hae been treated is simply despicable.”

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To anti-Semitism, support for terrorists, bullying, ballot-rigging, lying and all the other crimes we can lay at Labour’s door we must now add gobbing in the council leader’s peanut butter!

O tempora! o mores!

ANNA THE FIBBER

To the city of my dreams now, and Anna Melita Redfern, who offered her company, Cinema & Co as an address for the local homeless to use so that they could register to vote in this week’s general election.

(There are of course other options for the homeless to register to vote, but these don’t get publicity for Anna Redfern.)

According to Anna she’s been running Cinema & Co in Castle Street for two years, yet Companies House tells us that Cinema & Co Swansea Ltd was only Incorporated 29 April 2019.

Image courtesy of WalesOnline. Click to enlarge

How do we explain this apparent contradiction?

By telling you that Anna had a different company at the same address. This was AR666 Ltd (previously Anna Redfern Ltd), and it traded as Cinema & Co. The company was wound up in July 2019. I’m told AR666 Ltd went under owing £32,496 to HMRC, plus phone bill, water rates, and various amounts to Swansea City Council.

Here’s an entry from The Gazette which suggests Anna may be a naughty girl for using the same name for her new company.

But I suspect Anna has a weak grip on reality, combined with an irresistible urge for self-promotion. A dangerous combination.

Other companies of which Ms Redfern is the sole director are The (Secret) Garden Swansea Ltd and Noah’s Sister Ltd. The name of the second of those hints at her being the sister of Noah Redfern, proprietor of Noah’s Yard a hip watering hole in the student quarter of the Uplands.

Noah Redfern previously owned the Monkey Bar down town and has since bought the Observatory on the seafront, though the bar he planned never materialised after a run-in with the council.

I suppose it should go without saying that Anna Melita Redfern was a finalist in the Welsh Women’s Awards 2019. Cinema & Co – which had just been liquidated – was shortlisted in the Small Business of the Year category. 

Only in colonial Wales!

UPDATE 14.12.2019: Noah Redfern makes the news himself when a planning inspector orders him to take down the ‘overbearing’ extension he’d built to an Uplands house.

I shall of course be publishing an analysis of the general election, and this will probably appear on Monday the 16th. Then, unless something really important happens, that should be it until 2020.

♦ end ♦

P.S. There was an earlier and slightly different version to this post that went out because I’d scheduled it and then lost my internet connection, which meant I could neither amend nor stop it. Take my advice and avoid Sky Broadband.

 

Miscellany 28.10.2019

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

This issue is made up of something old, something new. We start with a brief return to Summit to Sea and end with another hydro project involving Ellergreen. The ‘meat’ in this sandwich is a piece in which I try to unravel who might be involved now and in the past at the Ferodo site in Caernarfon, which is lined up for a major development.

No doubt many of you are looking forward to the infantile grotesquerie of Hallowe’en, while those of a more traditional bent will uncork a bottle for Samhain. For it’s well known that at this time of the year our ancestors were partial to a good bottle of Malbec.

Here at Jac Towers the dogs will be unleashed upon any who come disturbing my peace. A charitable act; for climbing trees to escape the Dobermans will keep young scoundrels fit and stop them developing into socialists or criminals, a fate that demanding money with menaces surely presages.

(Though I rarely differentiate between socialists and criminals, and I’ve invariably found the latter to be more congenial company.)

SUMMIT TO SEA

Summit to Sea is a scam dreamed by a gang of ‘environmentalists’, led or inspired by George Monbiot, that hoped to be handed millions of pounds and given free access to thousands of hectares of land and sea in central Wales. The excuse for this appropriation was that ‘rewilding’ was needed to tackle climate change. (For sheep are absolute bastards when it comes to damaging the planet!)

The ‘Welsh Government’ played its usual role, a combination of Uriah Heep and Vidkun Quisling, by promising to helpfully clear farmers off the land by withdrawing funding, and helping in any other way it could.

In the past year or so Summit to Sea has featured a few times on this blog. With my major contribution coming with The Welsh Clearances a year ago, and this month we had two guest pieces: the first, by Jon Coles of the Pembrokeshire Herald, quickly followed by a piece from an anonymous, but equally well-informed source.

Given the bad publicity received, and the near-total opposition in the affected area – especially from local farmers who were never consulted! – it was almost inevitable that Summit to Sea would be vulnerable. And so it proved; first, when Ecodyfi withdrew its support from the project in September; and then, this month, when Rewilding Britain had second thoughts.

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Summit to Sea has taken two heavy hits and is rocking on its heels, ready for the knock-out blow . . . but will it be delivered?

I ask because there seems to be ambivalence on the part of certain local politicians. Go back to the article I linked to reporting the withdrawal of Rewilding Britain, and there you’ll read Powys councillor Elwyn Vaughan saying: “I am hopeful that it marks the start of a successful partnership between the people of mid Wales and Summit to Sea.”

In this article from Farmers Guardian Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Vaughan expands on his thinking. He clearly believes the project should proceed, but with more local involvement and, perhaps, a slice of the £3.4m said to be available. Though I’m not sure how this is supposed to work out.

The money was only available for the rewilding project . . . a rewilding project to which local farmers are almost universally opposed. So are we to believe that the farmers will implement the rewilding scheme themselves if they get the £3.4m?

At the very least, it suggests to me that Elwyn Vaughan is not opposed to Summit to Sea per se. Maybe his opposition was simply to the way it was being done, and how the money was being distributed.

Which would make a certain sense, for Councillor Vaughan seems to be something of an eco-warrior himself. This tweet has been pinned to his Twitter timeline for almost two years. (We all want to cut down on the use of plastic, but bloody hell! – two years!)

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And when it comes to his party, well, Plaid Cymru is all over the place on this one. We know that Plaid is a very environmentally-friendly political party, but it risks alienating a great many supporters by backing Summit to Sea.

Though looking at it from the other side, if I was trying to implement Summit to Sea as originally conceived, I might think to myself: ‘Right, Labour’s onside, but in this neck of the woods Labour’s got less support than the DUP, so the key is Plaid Cymru’.

I’m not saying Plaid Cymru could win everybody over to Summit to Sea, but just to get Plaid talking of “partnership” might be enough to sow confusion and create division where none had previously existed.

And looking at it from the Summit to Sea perspective it would certainly be worth courting Plaid Cymru. With the project falling apart what have they got to lose?

I invite Elwyn Vaughan to clarify what he means by “partnership” with Summit to Sea.

BRAKES OFF AT THE FERODO SITE

Ferodo opened its Caernarfon factory in 1964, and at its height it employed almost 2,000 people. In the late nineties the site was taken over by American Craig Smith and in 1997 renamed Friction Dynamics. Relations between owner and staff deteriorated.

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An industrial dispute began in April 2001 that lasted until Christmas 2003. The strikers won their case at an industrial tribunal but Smith closed the company and reopened as Dynamex Friction. The money the strikers were awarded at the industrial tribunal was never paid.

The Friction Dynamics strike was one of the longest in Welsh history, beaten only perhaps by the Penrhyn lockout of 1900 – 1903 at Bethesda, not far away. They can be stubborn buggers in that area. God bless ’em.

I’m telling you this to give some background to a report on plans to develop the site. Though I got a flashback when I read in the headline that the project also included Plas Brereton. Daily Post reporter Owen Hughes reminded us about Plas Brereton with, “The site went up for sale last autumn . . . after the deal to sell to Plas Glynllifon owners Paul and Rowena Williams collapsed.”

And it’s true! As the very same Owen Hughes reported last June. And here he is! Paul Williams himself, in living colour.

Come on, be honest – would you buy magic beans from this guy? His eyes are all over the place, a would-be con man who can’t even convince himself! Probably thinking to himself, ‘Nobody’s buying this crap, are they?’

But let’s not dwell in the past; let’s ask what the future holds for the Cofis. For a start, it’s more tourism, more, ‘Wales – England’s Playground’. Though these plans outdo even the Gruesome Twosome.

Though I warn you, it now gets a wee bit complicated, and I might digress. But I think it’s worth sticking with it.

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The company reported as being behind the project is Maybrook Investments, of Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. Though also involved is Landal Greenparks, a Dutch company owned by Wyndham Destinations of the USA.

The Welsh involvement is limited to input from Cadnant Planning and architectural firm Dewis. Perhaps these have been given the work in the belief that local firms would be more likely to secure planning approval. Which has yet to be granted.

There’s plenty of information available on major companies Landal and Wyndham, so I’m going to focus on Maybrook Investments which, unlike those two, has no vast website and very little information of any kind. But we’ll dig anyway.

First off, what does Companies House tell us about Maybrook? Well, there are in fact two Maybrook companies; Maybrook Investments Ltd, and Maybrook Developments (Appley Bridge) Ltd. Let’s concentrate on the first, which is the one mentioned in the Daily Post.

Of the 100 shares issued, 99 are held by Peter Brendan Gerrard O’Dowd and 1 by Noreen O’Dowd. There are 7 outstanding charges for assorted properties, mainly in north west England.

The latest unaudited financial statement suggests a company in pretty good financial health, though a different valuation might not agree that the company’s investment portfolio is worth almost six million pounds.

Next stop was the Land Registry, for a map search of the site, and this is what I turned up. But now it gets rather complicated, for not only does the title record involve the Crown Estate and the ‘Welsh Government’ but there are various covenants and restrictions.

The Ferodo site was bought in July 2015 for £234,000 by the St Francis Group (Caernarfon) Ltd, which began life 10.06.2015. The last of the original directors left in December 2017 when O’Dowd joined. The name was changed to Bryn Coch Ltd in January 2018.

Maybrook Investments is now the sole shareholder. The two charges against this company (one satisfied) correspond with the number on the title document I’ve just linked with, CYM63599.

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These two charges being dated 18.12.2017 and 22.06.2018 suggests they were not used to make the purchase in 2015 but taken out later for some other purpose, with the Ferodo site used as security.

Let us now go back further and check on the history of this site.

Page 3 of the title document seems to deal with rights of access and then, at the end, a transfer of land relating to the other title on the site.

From my reading of the title document for CYM63599, by 2009 the Ferodo site had passed to the ownership or custodianship of ‘The Welsh Ministers’, who then sold it to Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd. The purchase is covered in these charges, taken out 2007 – 2009 which remain outstanding.

But why was Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd set up in July 2007 almost two years before the transfer of May 2009?

You’ll see that the directors of Bluefield Caernarfon at the time of this purchase are are all to be found in the south east, apart from Gary Goodman of Merseyside. With most involved with Bluefield Land Ltd from July 2005.

Bluefield Land took out loans amounting to millions of pounds (also still outstanding) with the Julian Hodge Bank Ltd. The company’s address was at Tŷ To Maen Farm in Old St Mellons. (Which for some reason rings a bell.)

Land disposal in Wales was of course the remit of the discredited Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales. You must remember the RIFW and the case of Stan ‘the Pies’ Thomas who enjoyed such good fortune buying up prime building land around Cardiff for a fraction of what it was worth.

Was the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales involved in the sale of the Ferodo site?

If I had more time (and if this investigation wasn’t making me lose the will to live!), I’d push on because I’m sure there’s a lot to unearth. This may not be a straightforward application by a guy who owns the Ferodo site hoping to involve major players in some over-hyped holiday camp.

If I was Cyngor Gwynedd I would be asking a lot of questions before even considering this site for planning approval.

For a start, Maybrook Investments Ltd doesn’t seem to own the whole of the old Ferodo site. So is the other title holder involved? (There was an option to buy dated February 2009, but has it been exercised?)

Then, if we go to the title document for the land apparently owned by Bryn Coch Ltd we see, at the top of page 4, the extract below. As we know, Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd was dissolved in January 2016. All the shares were owned by Dauson Environmental Group Ltd. So does this company retain whatever rights are referred to?

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Turning to the entry numbered 9, Bluefield Caernarfon Management Ltd also went belly-up in January 2016. The shares here were held by Bluefield Land Ltd (35 shares) and Twenty20 Homes Ltd (65 shares).

We encountered Bluefield Land Ltd earlier, and mercifully it’s still in the land of the living, with all its shares also held by Dauson Environmental Group Ltd. But what of newcomer Twenty2o Homes Ltd? Well, whaddya know, it also breathed its last in January 2016.

Companies associated with the Ferodo site were going down like flies that month!

The shares in Twenty20 Homes were held by Macob Property Holdings Ltd (13,500 shares) and Paul Christopher Markey of Porthcawl (1,500 shares). Macob Property Holdings is undergoing a very long process of liquidation; owing Barclays Bank over £7m (‘before interest and charges’) at the start of the process.

Where does this leave the ‘rights granted by a deed . . . (to) Bluefield Caernarfon Management Ltd for a term of 75 years from 7 April 2009′?

What ‘rights’ were they? Have they been nullified? Have they been transferred? Maybe they’re still held by shareholders, or creditors? Or have they reverted to ‘The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty’?

This project on the old Ferodo site was a bit opaque to start with. A small-time property dealer trying to break into the big time, with a vague association with major players. While in the background we see a swirling mess of interlinked companies shuffling money between them, taking out huge loans and then going bust!

If I was Cyngor Gwynedd I’d be asking who owns what and who might still have claim on the Ferodo site and anything built on it.

ELLERGREEN HYDRO

In the piece last month, Wales, with us but strangers, we looked at a hydro scheme on the Tywi below Llyn Brianne. Among the many foreign companies taking a slice of this Welsh cake was Ellergreen Hydro Ltd.

As I wrote, “Ellergreen Hydro is based in the English Lake District and seems to be part of a group of companies bearing the name. These are run – in various guises and through assorted holding companies – by the Cropper family, headed by Sir James Anthony Cropper.”

Concerned locals at Mynydd Llandygai have been in touch to tell me that something odd is going on as Cyngor Gwynedd bends over backwards to accommodate a group that has invited Ellergreen Hydro to install a project on Afon Galedffrwd.

To begin with, I’m told that the project is being pushed through by stealth, with the local community not being properly notified and updated.

Then, it’s alleged that the application form has been ‘modified’. For a source insists that the original application – accepted by the council – stated “that the nearest building to the power station is ‘several hundred yards away’ when actually there are houses within 50 yards of it and an industrial unit and 10 plus houses within 100 yards.”

It’s said the council’s planners knew this, but still accepted the incorrect information.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, go to the council planning portal and you’ll find three letters of support. There were many more letters objecting . . . but they seem to have disappeared!

Anyway, let’s look at the planning application, for it contains a few entries to raise a smile, or have you scratching your head. The applicant is Mrs Jenny Wong of Coetir Mynydd (of which more in a minute) who lives in Bethesda . . . in the Vale of Glamorgan!

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The agent is Adam Cropper of Ellergreen Hydro, who gives an address in Penarth, which really is in the Vale of Glamorgan. But as we know, Ellergreen is based in the Lake District, so Pod 3, Avon House is just an accommodation address.

Probably explained by this letter from the council to a Mr Alex Ferraro of Penarth. ‘Who him?’, you ask, as well you might. Somebody must know who he is and how he fits into the picture. So please let us know.

Scroll down to box 27 and we see that the land needed for the project seems to be partly owned by the Penrhyn Estate; partly owned by Rite Goswami of Yr Ocar, Coed y Parc (which is either a B&B or a self-catering holiday let, maybe both); and partly owned by the aforementioned Mrs Wong on behalf of Coetir Mynydd.

Having promised you more information, here’s the Companies House entry for Coetir Mynydd, and here’s the website . . . which doesn’t seem to have been updated since the 2017 AGM. Here’s more on Coetir Mynydd and the scheme, complete with videos!

Locals also wonder who’s paying, and who’s benefiting, for despite promises of ‘community benefits’ in the form of cheaper energy for all, many remain sceptical.

According to Robert Owen Community Banking, shares for similar schemes nearby, ” . . . cost £50, and there is a minimum holding of five shares (£250)”. Later in the article we read that the shares are to be sold online.

Two hundred and fifty pounds might be too much for some locals, and if shares are to be sold online then anyone can buy them. So how local are these schemes?

We have a ‘local’ group, made up mainly it seems of good-lifers and planet-botherers, an English energy company, landowners including Lord Penrhyn (whose ancestor caused the longest strike in history), the mysterious Alex Ferraro of Penarth(?), and shares perhaps being sold online.

What we seem to have here, again, is Plaid Cymru, in the form of Cyngor Gwynedd, unable to resist any scheme claiming environmental credentials. And when the sales pitch is delivered in a middle class English accent they go all wobbly at the knees.

♦ end ♦

 

Summit to Sea, who’s behind it?

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

The piece below comes from a source that has always proved reliable, an astute observer of the Welsh political scene, particularly as it affects our rural areas.

The suggestion being made is that, while I have focused on George Monbiot and his associates, these arrogant and avaricious colonials may in fact be working for or are being manipulated by serious money. In fact, enough money to virtually buy Wales!

Our guest writes . . .

A politician once said that ‘today is a good day to bury bad news’ and got in a bit of trouble for it.

Brexit seems to be a driver for this within public life at the moment. Firstly we had the Brexit and Our Land consultation that provided a proposed shift to public goods, having already moved from agricultural payments based on head count, to land payments (with a bit of environment) to what could be described as a half and half position.

Alongside this, Summit to Sea turned up. Without wishing to impolite, it was a class act in how not to engage with a group of stakeholders absolutely critical to the success of the project. This has continued with the chronological account provided by Jon Coles.

Click to enlarge

When you look behind Summit to Sea at its funders at the Endangered Landscapes Programme you’ll see a recipe used, and highlighted by Jac many times over. Identify an ishoo (even embellish it a bit) propose the resolution and get the money together. The problem is that this time, they’ve met with some serious resistance. Instead of the proposed beneficiaries being passive, rolling over and having their bellies rubbed, the shearing clippers are out for the dreadlocks.

The crux of the matter is that Summit to Sea never really got into a true engagement exercise with the farming, forestry and fishing community or their representative organisations and paid the price. Aside from doing a bit of work with its NGO partners, it’s going nowhere. The danger is now that as with other forms of stakeholder engagement work, they will go the rent-a-crowd route to validate this and carry on regardless.

When you look deeper into the structure of this initiative, it becomes a bit more interesting, for the funder of the Endangered Landscapes Programme is Arcadia. One of the co-founders is Dr. Lisbet Rausing who in turn is a Director of Ingleby Farms and Forests.

Now, the important piece of narrative here is that Ingleby ‘owns and farms over 100,000 hectares in nine countries.’ They are the largest single land owner in Romania and the largest foreign owner of pastoral land in New Zealand. If you really want to scare yourself shitless, have a gander at the Wikipedia references for the business.

So, rewind to the farmers meeting in Talybont and it was stated, by representatives of the Summit to Sea, that the project is not interested in buying land. Absolutely correct!!!! It isn’t. It is about creating the conditions by which this could be facilitated. The Ingleby trading portfolio contains the very products within the Summit to Sea area – lamb, wool, beef and timber. I haven’t quite worked out the link with the sea part of the equation, but maybe they have ambitions to move into shellfish.

I almost feel a sense of smugness that Monbiot and his cohorts are being used or even exploited for commercial gain. One thing I am sure of is that there has to be a co-ordinated, forceful opposition to this project in its current guise. We’re missing the bigger picture and if our Government is unable to recognise and reject this type of scheme in Wales, it may as well tear up the Well Being of Future Generations Act and turn the lights off on their way out.

My real fear however is that this type of scheme provides environmental and food production policy outcomes for Welsh Government with no or little impact on the public purse. It’s a win-win for them and their weaknesses in natural resource management leaves the door wide open.

In the context of a loss of EU structural funds and farm payments, instability in the food processing sector and of course Brexit per se, we are heading into a perfect storm and towards that day to bury bad news.

UPDATE 21.10.2019: The BBC reports that Rewilding Britain has withdrawn from the Summit to Sea project. I remain to be convinced. But if if it’s true, then it’s due to the almost total rejection of the scheme by local people.

Which is why it was strange to read Plaid Cymru leader on Powys county council, Elwyn Vaughan, say, “I am hopeful that (Rewilding Britain’s withdrawal) marks the start of a successful partnership between the people of mid Wales and Summit to Sea.”

But then, Plaid Cymru has always had a soft spot for ‘environmentalists’ from over the border.

♦ end ♦

Jac chips in . . . I consider Summit to Sea part of a package with the tasteless forms of tourism spreading across the land like a plague; the colonisation being encouraged by house building (coupled with the refusal to tackle second homes and related matters); and then the latest ingredient, the National Development Framework, that I wrote about here.

Combine them and a clear picture picture emerges of a countryside emptied of its indigenous population serving as a recreation and retirement area for England. The only ‘farming’ allowed will be granny farming, in care homes under the zip wires flying over land rewilded by Monbiot’s backers.

And look! – there beneath the canopy, it’s Bore Grylls leading a party of accountants from Milton Keynes who’ve spent six hours stalking a squirrel! With those blacked up faces I just hope they don’t run into any Leannistas!

Joking aside, I can’t help but notice that Ingleby Farms and Forests has sheep farms (stations?) in Australia and New Zealand. Wouldn’t it work out just dandy if Welsh competition for the UK market could be eliminated?

Alternatively, Ingleby might want to take a slice of Welsh farming. A big slice.

Either way, it will be done with the grovelling assistance of the ‘Welsh Government’. Our quisling regime down Corruption Bay.

 

Summit to Sea: a guest post by Jon Coles

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

This post is by Jon Coles, the Herald‘s Chief Writer, who has written about farming and rural affairs every week since the papers’ launch.

A CONTROVERSIAL project in Mid Wales faces opposition from local farmers and lost the support of a key local partner.

Summit to Sea’s website says: “The project will bring together one continuous, nature-rich area, stretching from the Pumlumon massif – the highest area in mid-Wales – down through wooded valleys to the Dyfi Estuary and out into Cardigan Bay. Within five years it will comprise at least 10,000 hectares of land and 28,400 hectares of sea.”

Pumlumon. Click to enlarge

The project is seen as a pilot for similar projects being eyed in rural areas of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire and partly reflects the Welsh Government’s controversial plans for favouring nebulous ‘public goods’ over food production.

‘NO TO REWILDING’

Drive towards Machynlleth from Talybont and signs in the roadside verges show opposition to the project growing the further north you go. Most say: ‘No to Rewilding’. There are few signs of any overt support.

A meeting of 150 local farmers in Talybont earlier this year rejected the project.
Just outside Machynlleth a particularly large sign rejecting rewilding underlines the farmers’ opposition.

Machynlleth. Click to enlarge

Once a market town for the livestock and wool trade, Machynlleth is now a prosperous exclave of bohemian incomers and boutique shopping in mid-Wales. The town’s centre supports a large Aga showroom, an old-fashioned cobbler making hand-made shoes, a variety of artisanal boutiques, antique shops, and no banks.

It is there that the ideas underpinning rewilding in the UK were, if not born, then first brought to the wider public’s attention.

George Monbiot is a trenchant critic of modern farming and has opined at length on what he claims is the adverse impact of sheep farming on the Welsh upland landscape. Mr Monbiot formerly resided near Machynlleth before returning to live in his native Oxfordshire some years ago.

Machynlleth, looking down Maengwyn Street to the A487 and the clock tower. Click to enlarge

In his book Feral, a seminal text for the rewilding movement in the UK, George Monbiot says: “Rewilding, to me, is about resisting the urge to control nature and allowing it to find its own way.”

Rewilding Britain is the principal partner for the Summit to Sea project.
The chief executive of Rewilding Britain is Rebecca Wrigley. Ms Wrigley is the partner of journalist and author George Monbiot.

The application for grant support for Summit to the Sea has a return address which is the couple’s home in Oxford.

REWILDING

To its critics, rewilding is a fad supported by metropolitan eco-warriors with nothing better to do with their time than dream of romantic rural idylls that never existed. Its supporters regard it as a means of restoring diversity and improving natural habitats.

Rewilding is so divisive a topic that even those sympathetic to its aims express caution about where it might lead and where the quest for creating an ‘authentic’ habitat stops.

A rewilding exercise in the Netherlands, at Oostvaardersplassen near Amsterdam, was so badly misjudged and went so catastrophically wrong that 3,000 horses, deer and cattle did not survive the winter of 2017. Starving animals were shot by Dutch officials to ease overpopulation and prevent the destruction of the forested habitats on which many of the species depend.

Oostvaardersplassen. Click to enlarge

Some argue that rewilding is the creation of ecosystems where human influences and control over vast areas of land are removed, and species such as large predators create self-regulating environments devoid of human interactions.

Others argue that rewilding is merely a new and exciting approach to conservation.
Rural Wales is, however, a working environment. Its landscape is intimately entwined with humans’ interactions with it, as users and exploiters of the land and conservers of it. While reintroducing apex predators like wolves and lynx is unlikely, significant concern exists that ‘rewilders’ oppose farming as being itself ‘a bad thing’.

SUMMIT TO SEA ‘NOT ABOUT REWILDING’

In spite of Rewilding Britain’s status as the Summit to Sea project’s lead partner, a spokesperson for the latter denied that the project’s primary purpose was rewilding.
They told us: “Summit to Sea was never meant to be a large-scale rewilding project, but instead is a wider initiative to bring positive change to both Mid Wales’ environment and economy. Exactly how the project looks will be shaped entirely by the community.

“Over the coming weeks, a recently appointed Community Engagement Officer will host one-to-one meetings and drop-in sessions with those who’d like to be involved to hear their visions for the area’s future. This could involve anything from working with communities to develop nature-based businesses that are socially and economically beneficial, to working with farmers to develop ideas for land management”.

However, the project has caused alarm that ‘rewilding’ is the first step towards the outside appropriation of Welsh land to rid the area of farming and create a playground for English and urban visitors.

Speaking in 2018, Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) President Glyn Roberts said: “A key driving force behind such pressures and policies is the belief that farming is somehow inherently bad, with negative messages drip-fed through the media by charities until they are accepted as universal truths – often conveniently drawing attention away from disastrous policies advocated by charities and introduced by successive Governments.”

LACK OF LOCAL ENGAGEMENT

Criticism that Summit to Sea has failed to reach out to local farmers and engage with local culture sensitively reached a head towards the end of the summer. Ecodyfi, a not for profit Development Trust which aims to deliver sustainable community regeneration in the Dyfi Valley, withdrew its support from Summit to Sea earlier this year.

Speaking to the media in September, Ecodyfi manager Andy Rowland said: “We have increasingly been disturbed by the change of attitude to the project in the farming-connected community on which we largely depend.

“The project reflects the partners’ focus on the environment and pays much less attention to the cultural/linguistic/social and economic aspects of sustainable development, which are fundamental to the whole community.

“We feel that in present circumstances Ecodyfi can best help the creation of a more resilient and sustainable future by being outside the project rather than by staying within it.”

Nick Fenwick, FUW. Click to enlarge

Responding, Nick Fenwick, Head of Policy at the FUW said: “We welcome the fact that Ecodyfi has recognised the damage done to their relationship with the local community through their involvement with Rewilding Britain.

“Their acknowledgement that the project does not pay sufficient attention to the ‘cultural, linguistic, social and economic aspects of sustainable development which are fundamental to the whole community’ is also welcome.”

FARMERS ‘MISUNDERSTAND’ PROJECT

Speaking at the time of Ecodyfi’s announcement, the Chief Executive of Summit to Sea said farmers had ‘misunderstood’ the scheme.

Melanie Newton also told the BBC: “It’s not about rewilding, it’s actually about looking at landscape sustainability and how that sits with traditional farming practices and how they can all support each other – they can sit side by side.”

Melanie Newton, Summit to Sea CEO. Click to enlarge

We asked Summit to Sea whether it thought to say that farmers misunderstood the project insulted the intelligence of those upon whose support it relied to deliver its scheme.

A spokesperson told us: “There has been a lot of information in circulation during the last year or so, some of which has been false or misconstrued. We also recognise that in some cases, communication on our part hasn’t been as clear as we would have liked.

“Feedback from community members so far has been vital in terms of how the project is shaped and adapted, and we are now working hard to strengthen our lines of communication with local people so that we can continue to develop a project which benefits both wildlife and people.”

Nick Fenwick of the FUW was not mollified by that explanation. He told us: “Farmers have certainly not ‘misunderstood’ the project: Far from it, they have recognised it for what it truly is, and know perfectly well that the claim that ‘It’s not about rewilding’ is laughable.

“The project is instigated and run by Rewilding Britain, an organisation which advocates the rewilding of a quarter of Great Britain. Their website acknowledges that the organisation was inspired by George Monbiot’s book ‘Feral’, which advocates the replacement of traditional farming with wilding in the very area selected for the Summit to Sea project.”

LOCAL SUPPORT?

We finally asked Summit to Sea to identify substantial locally-based or Welsh-based farming groups which supports its objectives.

Summit to Sea referred to the eight project partners engaged in the project and responded: “There are eight project partners who are keen to meet with groups including FUW and NFU Cymru to discuss how all organisations can move forward together to help create an environmental and economically prosperous future for everyone.”

Those partners, apart from Rewilding Britain, are Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust (MWT), PLAS Marine Special Area of Conservation, RSPB, Coetir Anian (a style of the Wales Wild Land Foundation CIO, which promotes rewilding), Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and WWF.

♦ end ♦

Jac chips in . . . An excellent piece by Jon Coles (I would expect no less) that exposes the many contradictions, and worse, in this project.

I became aware of Summit to Sea last year and it featured in The Green Menace (28 August). I wrote, “One shadowy re-wilding project about which I and others are having difficulty getting information is ‘Summit to Shore’”. A later piece was The Welsh Clearances in October, with a further mention here at the end of that month.

I may have got the name wrong to begin with, but this was not surprising seeing as there was so little information in the public domain, and no local consultations. Or let me qualify that by saying that no contact had been made with those whose land was being eyed up for takeover.

Gradually, more information seeped out, but it wasn’t encouraging. Just listen to Natalie Buttriss, the Director of Wales for the Woodland Trust, a partner in the Summit to Sea rewilding project, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’ programme last October.

When dealing with surly natives Ms Buttriss clearly favours the, ‘You can like it or lump it’ approach.

And yet, despite being furtive wee creatures in the area affected, those behind Summit to Sea are not shy of publicity. Below we see Buttriss presenting a petition (for more trees) to London’s management team in Corruption Bay, represented by Plasmarl boy, Mike Hedges AM.

Let me think . . . did the ‘Welsh Government’ agree to a photo-op for the petitions against the ‘Ring of Steel’, or the ‘Prince of Wales’ Bridge, both of which gained a hell of a lot more signatures? Click to enlarge

Monbiot and his friends know little about the land they want to seize, but they know how to get things done. For Labour’s buffoons down Cardiff docks are like putty in the hands of members of the English middle classes.

After suitable kneading, the men (and women) of clay promised to withdraw funding from farmers after Brexit with the intention of thereby making land available for Monbiot and his gang.

Summit to Sea reminds us how vulnerable Cardiff Bay is to pressure from special interest groups, usually from outside of Wales and often acting against the Welsh national interest.

This colonialist variant of devolution is why we have a third sector profiting from the deprivation and hopelessness it encourages, and why the ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to consider a register of lobbyists.

Let’s end back in Holland, at Oostvaardersplassen. (And try saying that after a bottle of Malbec!) As the Guardian put it: “For protesters, Oostvaardersplassen is a secretive experiment devised by distrusted elites”.

Just add ‘alien’ and it applies perfectly to Summit to Sea. But why stop there! Wales itself is run by ‘distrusted alien elites’. Thank God more of you are waking up to that fact.

 

National Development Framework

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

Last week the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ produced the first version of the consultation document for its 20-year National Development Framework (NDF). Those of a masochistic bent may read it here.

Should you wish to make your feelings known, then the response form is here.

(Unless otherwise attributed, all images are from the National Development Framework and belong, presumably, to the ‘Welsh Government’.)

The front cover might be a sensible, if unoriginal, place to start.

There we see the Sail Bridge over the Tawe with, on the left, the University of Wales Trinity St David’s new campus. Behind the buildings in the middle distance there’s the Prince of Wales Dock; this is now an area of flats, offices, hotels, restaurants and bars.

Click to enlarge

Almost all these were drawn to the area on the promise that the Prince of Wales Dock would become a marina. But the money allocated for the project was used elsewhere by the ‘Welsh Government’. Which means that the shiny new buildings look out onto an expanse of brackish water.

In the article I’ve just linked to you’ll read the decision being defended by the Cardiff-based South Wales Chamber of Commerce, on the grounds that the marina was not the “right priority” for public money. But the money we’re talking about was raised from the sale of land in the area and ‘ring-fenced’ for the PoW Dock.

That contribution tells us a lot about which areas have benefited from devolution and which areas have lost out. Also, who wields influence in 21st century Wales. I mean, why did WalesOnline ask South Wales Chamber of Commerce for a quote?

The NDF document is so self-congratulatory in parts, and elsewhere full of promises that, on reading it, I was reminded of a child’s letter to Father Christmas. You know the kind of thing, ‘Dear Santa, I have been very good this year and I would like . . .’.

Can’t help wondering if a copy of the NDF was posted to Lapland.

Part 1 is the Introduction, and this is what the NDF has to say of itself:

“The NDF is the highest tier of development plan and is focused on issues and challenges at a national scale. Its strategic nature means it does not allocate development to all parts of Wales, nor does it include policies on all land uses. It is a framework which will be built on by Strategic Development Plans (SDPs) at a regional level and Local Development Plans (LDPs) at local authority level.”

Part 2, ‘Wales – An Overview’, begins with this gem.

Click to enlarge

All of which is true, no doubt, but it neglects to mention that the population of Wales is ageing faster than the other countries of these islands, and that life expectancy in Wales is falling faster than the other countries, also that in addition to these factors the main reason our population is ageing at such an alarming rate is because people retire to Wales from England.

The 2011 Census told us that in some areas the majority of those in the 65+ age bracket were born in England. In Conwy, just 37.1% of the over 65s were born in Wales. This movement is encouraged by a number of factors, including a care fees threshold of £50k, compared to £23,250 in England.

And then there’s the added incentive of free prescriptions.

This means that the poorest country in the UK, where the population already contains the highest percentage of elderly people, is actively encouraging yet more elderly people to move to Wales.

Figures supplied by ONS. My table. Click to enlarge

This phenomenon obviously puts a strain on health and associated services, which results in funding being diverted from other budgets, such as education. Perhaps it could even be argued that Welsh kids get an inferior education due to retirees from England.

But of course no Welsh politician or civil servant will dare admit this. Worse, they’ll even try to put a positive gloss on this population movement, as I found when I submitted a Freedom of Information request. Here’s an extract from the response.

Click to enlarge

An ageing population is viewed as a problem across the developed world. The prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, recently declared the issue of a falling birthrate and an ageing population to be “a national crisis”.

So across the world it’s a problem or a crisis, but here in Wales an ageing population is “something positive”. I leave it to you to decide whether the ‘Welsh Government’ doesn’t understand the problem or whether it’s just lying.

The National Development Framework says nothing about limiting or mitigating the effects of this damaging influx. Which could be achieved by reducing the care fee allowance to £10,000 for people who have not lived in Wales for ten years prior to applying for care.

Part 3 is a wish list entitled ‘Outcomes’, eleven in all. ‘Outcomes’, that word so beloved of bullshitters and con artists in government, academe, the third sector and elsewhere.

This is virtue signalling on steroids. Anyone reading it should pause and ask, ‘Why should I believe that the same clowns who have run Wales into the ground over the past 20 years will deliver a land of milk and honey in the future?’

Click to enlarge

Only intellectually-challenged Labour supporters and desperate Unionists will believe this. Because, believe me, those who wrote it don’t believe it.

Part 4 is headed, ‘Strategic and Spatial Choices: the NDF Spatial Strategy’. It tells us what’s planned to happen and where; this section contains a bit more ‘meat’.

Click to enlarge

It begins by telling us that there are three ‘national growth areas’. These are: Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys; Wrexham and Deeside; Swansea Bay and Llanelli.

The first speaks for itself seeing as the ‘Welsh Government’ and others have been pushing the ‘city region’ idea for decades. Our north east is merging into north west England, an arrangement the ‘Welsh Government’ has helped create by prioritising cross-border links and pouring money into Deeside to create jobs for Merseyside and Cheshire. Which leaves the Swansea area as Wales’ only natural and organic conurbation. And, inevitably, the area most neglected by the ‘Welsh Government’.

A word that crops up throughout the document is ‘sustainability’, often coupled with reference to the Well-being of Future Generations Act. This provides more opportunity to list pious hopes, but it also sets out where investors will be allowed to exploit Wales.

The map on page 42 (and below) shows the areas where wind or solar power is to be allowed. With a few district heat networks in the cities and larger towns. Most of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion seems to be given over to wind and solar farms.

Will there be any room for farming? Click to enlarge

Take out urban areas, national parks, unsuitable terrain, and it seems that most of what remains is to be covered in solar panels and wind turbines.

And then wonder where our ‘National Forest’ will fit in. For on page 35 of the NDF we read, “The Welsh Government has therefore set a target to increase woodland cover in Wales by at least 2,000 hectares per annum from 2020.”

The same page tells us, “Any sites or development proposals, which require planning permission and forming part of this project, should be supported where appropriate.” Which I take to mean a presumption in favour of new woodland. Perhaps refusal of planning permission at local level will be over-ruled by the ‘Welsh Government’ or the new planning inspectorate it has promised.

Is it a coincidence that the area earmarked for the Summit to Sea land-grab north of Aberystwyth is free of wind and solar farms?

I believe that woodland and carbon capture will be the new subsidy/tax break wheeze for investors, multinationals and others. With the scale of the exploitation disguised by ensuring maximum publicity for a few small, locally-owned projects.

I say that because a couple of recent newspaper reports point in that direction. (The image is quite large, so you might prefer it in PDF format.)

Click to enlarge.

When the UK government puts a monetary value on the carbon-capture qualities of our uplands, and academics urge the planting of trees on grazing land, then we can almost guarantee that various forms of  ‘greenwash’ largesse are not far behind . . . hotly pursued by a slavering horde of shysters.

Part 5. As we saw in Part 4, the National Development Framework breaks colonial Wales down, like Caesar’s Gaul, into three parts. Just to remind you, these are North, Mid and South West, and South East.

Click to enlarge

Starting with the north again, we see that in addition to the main growth points of Wrexham and Deeside, the ‘Centres of Regional Growth’ are all on the north coast – Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Caernarfon.

To see four towns on the Costa Geriatrica that are already over-developed (in the sense that they don’t really serve Wales) marked for further development is absurd. Especially as they’re so close to each other.

The northern hinterland is presumably given over to tourism, tree planting, ‘re-wilding’, etc. But couldn’t Blaenau Ffestiniog, almost slap-bang in the middle of the ‘forgotten zone’, have been made a Centre of Regional Growth instead of Colwyn Bay or Prestatyn?

I’ve added ‘Blaenau Ffestiniog’. Click to enlarge

The emphasis on the coastal strip looks like the A55 commuter corridor, designed to take the housing not wanted by the upmarket towns and villages of Cheshire.

Moving south and west we have the Swansea conurbation as the main growth point complemented by eight Centres of Regional Growth with another example of ‘bunching’. For while I understand the need to do something for Pembroke and Pembroke Dock, do they really need to be treated separately?

I wish defenders of the NDF the best of luck in the Severn Valley explaining to the people of Welshpool why Newtown was chosen and not their town. Newtown that has seen much investment in recent decades from the Mid Wales Development Corporation of the 1960s up to the new by-pass that opened earlier this year.

More surprising though is the choice of Llandrindod. Why not Brecon? Llandrindod could serve as the archetype for ‘sleepy rural town’, enlivened only by the riff-raff dumped there by various agencies.

Click to enlarge

Just like the north, the Mid and South West region is to have its own Metro. If these ever materialise then in the north it will result in better links with England, while in Swansea, a new Parkway station at Felindre will mean quicker travel times between the west and Cardiff, and a change of trains to go into Swansea.

Finally, let’s consider the master plan for the south east. Though if the management team in Corruption Bay gets its way then the south east of Wales will soon be Greater Cardiff.

There are fewer Centres of Regional Growth in the south east than in either of the other regions. In the north, there are four CRGs within 22 miles of each other, but just four in the whole of the south east, which has double the population of the north.

Specifically, and seeing as the ‘Welsh Government’ has promised Ebbw Vale so much in the wake of the Circuit of Wales fiasco, I’m surprised that Glyn Ebwy isn’t a CRG.

Click to enlarge

You may have noticed a small green belt between Wrexham and Chester, well there’s a much bigger green belt, or ‘wedge’, in the south east. It seems to be a tapering, westward extension of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It takes in the area around the town of Usk, pushes on past Newport, and ends just south of Caerphilly. Presumably this protects Caerphilly Mountain from development? But not, apparently, Gwern y Domen.

I thought there was also a green belt between Cardiff and Newport, but apparently not. So maybe it’s a case of ‘Good-bye Newport – hello Cardiff East!’

The NDF document admits on page 67 that “Prosperity is not uniform across the region.” Wow! what a surprise. The same could be said for the whole bloody country. And we know the problem – the mini-me London that is our capital.

CONCLUSIONS

This uninspiring document was put together by people, many of whom don’t really know Wales, and to compensate for this ignorance they’ve relied too heavily on vested interests, and local big-wigs interested only in their patch.

When suggestions dried up, they adopted a ‘more of the same’ approach. Which probably explains why a passage from the Bible came to mind when I was reading this document: “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath”.

The National Development Framework is not – and could never be – a document setting out desirable national development over the next 20 years because the contributors were incapable of taking a truly national view.

For example, there has been a campaign running for a few years to re-open the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth railway line. This would provide an environmentally-friendly north-south link, the ‘Welsh Government’ has given £300,000 for a feasibility study, county and town councils support it, so why is there no mention of this project in the National Development Framework?

Why the emphasis on cross-border links in a document supposedly serving Wales?

And if this document is about serving Wales, then why is so much of our country being surrendered to wind farms and solar farms? There is little local benefit, very few jobs, and the argument that these reduce Wales’ carbon footprint is nonsense.

When it comes to wind turbines, we could do more for the environment by not importing these things from the continent, by not letting them trundle through our countryside on huge, smoke-belching trucks, and by not cutting down trees or destroying peat deposits to erect them.

Yet if the environment is the issue, and if the desire is for Wales to play its part, then why is there no support for locally-owned hydro and other schemes? I think that question answers itself – it’s because they’ll be locally owned.

Anyone who says wind farms are good for Wales, or for the environment, is either a liar, a fool, an ‘investor’, a landowner, or a politician spinning a line in ‘greenwash’. Click to enlarge.

The National Development Framework also mentions ‘affordable housing’ more than once, but no definition is offered. If you think it means rented social housing then think again. ‘Affordable housing’ is a ‘flexible’ term that can mean whatever the person using it wants it to mean.

That’s because the housing market itself is rather confusing, what with housing associations building properties for sale and for rent, even ‘fleecehold’ properties. Many Registered Social Landlords have also set up private subsidiaries that are little different to Redrow and Persimmon, and competing unfairly with smaller, local building firms. This sector really does need a shake-up.

If only to cut down on the waste of public funding when social housing providers allocate properties to people with no Welsh connections, and often people that nobody’d want as neighbours.

Insisting that no one could be given a social housing tenancy unless they’d lived in Wales for five years would both save money and improve social cohesion.

In addition to the ignorance and ineptitude at lower levels, the deeper problem is that the National Development Framework is essentially a colonial strategy – ‘Let Wales continue to serve England’s interests, with the local management team providing a smokescreen by virtue signalling to their little hearts’ content.’

Let us hope and pray that the current political and constitutional chaos results in the collapse of the United Kingdom and the emergence of independent and reunited countries in these islands.

All copies of the National Development Framework can then be pulped. Along with the buffoons down Corruption Bay that put their names to this national insult.

♦ end ♦