Miscellany 07.07.2022

As the title suggests, this week’s offering is a miscellany, bits and pieces from hither and yon. Covering . . .

  • Wind turbine disposal.
  • Fears for the planning system in the north west.
  • Awkward locals opposing the hundreds of executive homes Aberdyfi so desperately needs.
  • A development in the ongoing saga of the Llanbedr by-pass.
  • A new environmental group (cos we haven’t got enough).
  • More on Gilestone farm. 
  • My unanswered FoI to the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party.
  • ‘Welsh Government’ funds National Trust (cos NT’s a bit short at the moment).
  • Is ‘Welsh Government’ flogging off executive homes in Cardiff?
  • Enviroloonies saving Wales from the curse of employment.
  • Stumping up for the ‘Welsh Government’s favourite farmer.
  • ‘Welsh Government’ wants more trees . . . but fewer farmers.
  • Ukraine.
  • Enlarging the Senedd, or making the pig-sty bigger.

This is a monster issue, over 5,000 words; but you can take it a piece at a time. And because it is such a substantial offering late in the week, don’t expect anything next week.

Capice?

WHERE WILL ALL THE TURBINES GO?

A couple of weeks ago I submitted a Freedom of Information request to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ asking who was responsible for disposing of wind turbines when they come to the end of their working lives.

Given that the lifespan of a turbine is 15 – 25 years we must have in Wales a few hundred turbines approaching decrepitude. With hundreds more in their ‘middle age’, and plans in the system to erect God knows how many others. (Bute Energy alone wants 20 new wind farms.)

It seems to me to be an important question. Hence the FoI request.

I was also mindful of what happened when certain opencast mining sites came to the end of their working lives . . . and it was found that responsibility for restoring those sites had been transferred to companies located in the British Virgin Islands.

You might also like to read this 2014 report produced for the ‘Welsh Government’ and entitled, ‘Research into the failure to Restore Opencast Coal Sites in South Wales’.

When we add the birds and bats they kill wind turbines’ environmental credentials are on a par with Jack the Ripper’s contribution to the welfare and well-being of streetwalkers. Click to open enlarged in separate tab.

Here’s the response I received to my FoI.

It tells me that, ‘Responsibility for decommissioning wind turbines lies with the developer/operator of the site’.

Richard Spear of the Planning Inspectorate concludes his response with: ‘In addition, developers/operators should ensure that sufficient finance is set aside to enable them to meet restoration obligations. A local planning authority may require financial guarantees by way of a Section 106 planning obligation / agreement, as part of the approval of planning permission to ensure that restoration will be fully achieved.’

It’s worth pointing out that in most cases it was the ‘Welsh Government’ that gave planning permission for wind turbines, often over-riding local authorities. The ‘Welsh Government’ should therefore have seen to it that each developer paid a ‘bond’, up front, to ensure there will be enough money to restore each site.

But those buffoons down Corruption Bay were so concerned with making ‘planet-saving’ gestures that they couldn’t see beyond their own wagging fingers.

I predict with certainty that in the near future, we – by which I mean Wales – will find ourselves lumbered with ‘orphan’ wind turbines that will cost us a hell of a lot of money to demolish. And then more money to restore the sites they’ve come from.

And that’s without deciding what to do with the blades, because they cannot be recycled. Most go into landfill. Just as well we’ve left the European Union, because the EU has banned landfill disposal.

On the plus side, it means that turbine blades from the Continent can come to landfill sites in Wales!

Should this come to pass then it will doubtless be claimed as ‘foreign investment’.

WILD WEST SHOW?

I am indebted to a regular source for news of concerns about the Gwynedd and Môn Joint Planning Policy Committee. To be clear, this is not the planning committee, deciding on planning applications, but the policy committee that determines in more general terms where development will be allowed.

Although Gwynedd is a large council in area, much of the planning responsibility falls to the Snowdonia National Park; which leaves the council to oversee a few ‘islands’ – Tywyn, Barmouth, Blaenau Ffestiniog – then Porthmadog and Llŷn, and finally, the northern coastal strip taking in Caernarfon and Bangor and running to Abergwyngregyn.

Crossing over, readers may remember that for a few years Ynys Môn council was in special measures. This was ostensibly for failings in education delivery, but it went well beyond that.

For like many rural authorities Ynys Môn is prone to being controlled by a few forceful individuals, often holding sway through membership of an organisation claiming to be heirs to the Knights Templar and other exotic fraternities.

Never more true than in keeping to the Templar talent for accruing wealth. Though I’m unsure if the medieval predecessors were as cunning as their heirs in planning matters and the allocation of contracts.

For who could forget Ceredigion when Dai Lloyd Evans and his merry men ruled the roost? Those were the days! The late Paul Flynn, sitting on the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee, referred to Ceredigion Council as “The Wild West Show”.

But then, as we saw in Carmarthenshire during the halcyon days of Mark James, sometimes, with largely rural authorities, the boss man doesn’t even have to be a councillor.

My source’s concern is that the chairman of the joint planning policy committee is a member of this group to which I have alluded. And while I’m sure he’s a splendid fellow, with a good firm handshake, I can understand my source’s misgivings.

Someone else giving my informant food for thought is the young man who’s now Senior Executive Officer at Gwynedd’s Housing and Property Department.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s an educated boy, studied . . . Welsh, and, er . . .  Music.

But then, it is suggested by cynics that the boy’s father’s friendship with Gwynedd’s Head of Finance may have played a role in the appointment.

O tempora! O mores!

ABERDYFI EXECUTIVES MUST BE HOUSED!

When I first saw this news item I thought to myself, ‘Hang on, Jones, isn’t this the development Ann Clwyd was banging on about decades ago?’ And I’m sure it is.

For the woman who went on to become MP for the Cynon Valley has connections to Aberdyfi and the wider Dysynni area. I have a photo of a young Ann Clwyd with my sister-in-law when the latter was the village carnival queen back in the mid-sixties.

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It’s difficult to comprehend how this project has resurfaced, or why it wasn’t killed off decades ago. What does it say about our planning system?

Aberdyfi may be a sizeable village; a few pubs, a few caffs, shops, and an unhealthy number of estate agents. But it backs up to a cliff, with the sea on the other side, and there’s just one road in and out, the A493. A crash or some other hold-up on that road and Aberdyfi is almost inaccessible except by boat or helicopter.

Sticking to housing, Aberdyfi may be the financial, commercial, and industrial hub of the south Meirionnydd coast, but the village needs 401 ‘executive homes’ like our cat needs fleas.

The company behind this zombie scheme is Hillside Parks Ltd, run by Christopher John Madin, who I believe is the son of John Hardcastle Dalton Madin, the architect responsible for much of post-War central Birmingham.

So stick that up your Bullring!

LLANBEDR BY-PASS

One of the more intriguing stories to make the news recently was the report that Gwynedd County Council is to appeal to the UK government for funding to build the Llanbedr by-pass, a project cancelled last year by the ‘Welsh Government’.

The reason this is intriguing is because the council is controlled by Plaid Cymru, and down in Corruption Bay that party is in cahoots with the local branch of the Labour Party, an arrangement generally referred to as an ‘alliance’.

Though the Senedd Member representing Llanbedr seems to be going out of his way to piss off his supposed allies.

Last month he dared ask the ‘Welsh Government’ why it paid £4.25m for Gilestone farm when the asking price appeared to be £3.25m. A good question. We’d all like to hear the answer. (More on Gilestone below.)

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Another explanation might be that despite most Plaid SMs self-flagellating for the heinous sins of the White man and the harm they themselves do the planet by simply existing, many Plaid supporters still associate ‘woke’ with getting up in the morning.

They inhabit the real world where decent infrastructure and communications still matter. That mythic land far, far away, where people have to drive to work. And to the shops. To the doctor, dentist, etc., etc.

You know, the Welsh countryside, of which Labour is so wilfully ignorant.

TIR NATUR

I’ve tweeted a few times about this rather mysterious group, I may even have mentioned it here, on the blog. One reason I call it mysterious is because all I knew about it was gleaned from a GoFundMe page. (You’ll see there’ve been two donations in the past three months.)

Another reason for the ‘mysterious’ tag was that neither the website nor the GoFundMe page gave any names. And I get rather suspicious of organisations that run themselves.

Why ‘Wales-Based’, can’t they bring themselves to say ‘Welsh’? Click to open enlarged in separate tab

As I say, there was a rudimentary website. And a mention a year ago on the Cardiff Greenpeace Facebook page. (But no names there either.)

And when you read the justification for Tir Natur you immediately think, ‘Hang on, I’ve read that before!’ And so you have, many times. It probably comes from an environmental / rewilding template available online.

Now a source informs me that Tir Natur has finally gone legit and registered as a charity. This move is mentioned on the GoFundMe page, though when I checked a few days ago it hadn’t been updated since the application in March to the Charity Commission.

The contact address given on the Charity Commission website is, ‘Y Beudy, Lanlwyd, Pennant, Llanon, Ceredigion SY23 5JH’. This is on the B4577 between Cross Inn and Llanarth.

To confuse the picture, the GoFundMe page says, ‘Newport, Pembrokeshire’. Though my source and I suspect those involved don’t live in either Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire.

But at least the Charity Commission gives us names. So who are these four people named as Tir Natur trustees? Do you know them? What are their plans?

And does Wales really need yet another environmental / rewilding group?

STOP PRESS!

My source has now sent me this from a recent release by Tir Natur. Knowing more of such things than I he tells me that the image shows a European bison and a golden eagle. Neither of which of course is native to Wales.

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Though breeding pairs of European bison can be found at the Wildwood Trust’s Wildlife Discovery Centre in Kent.

They were introduced to the Trust’s other site in Devon, but removed due to fears of bTB. And they had to leave another site in Scotland when the government concluded they were dangerous and non-native.

Are they now destined for Wales?

Incidentally, that place in Kent is where the poor lynx that ended up at Borth ‘Zoo’ came from.

GILESTONE FARM, AGAIN

A number of Freedom of Information requests – in addition to my own – have been submitted regarding the purchase by the ‘Welsh Government’, for £4.25m, of Gilestone Farm at Talybont-on-Usk.

Here’s one. Here’s another.

I was a bit perplexed by the reference in the second FoI to the ‘James Report’. And then it came back to me . . .

Julie James. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

Julie James, the current Minister for Climate Change in the ‘Welsh Government’ has been involved with Gilestone for many years, before she was even elected to what was then the Welsh Assembly in 2011.

It’s a strange affair, with some dark corners, some very dark corners indeed. What I’ve been told involves the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, certain environmental busybodies, previous owners of Gilestone and a supporting cast that includes a retired Met cop with an ‘interesting’ record.

And of course, Julie James, then a solicitor in Swansea; whose relationship with some of those involved is worth looking into. No, nothing like that. (Really!)

I may be in a position to say more in the near future.

Also worth mentioning is that a number of people are convinced the money to buy Gilestone came from Julie James’ department’s piggy-bank.

If true, then why did Vaughan Gething, Minister for Economy, take the rap in the Senedd? Maybe his ignorance of the deal explains why he spent so much time extoling the virtues of the Green Man festival rather than answering questions he’d been asked about the purchase of Gilestone.

Finally, might these shenanigans explain why the ‘Welsh Government’ is so far behind with its accounts?

Though another explanation for the delayed accounts might be that the ‘Welsh Government’ is virtually broke. For that’s what another source tells me.

If true, then this might explain the Llanbedr by-pass and other projects being scrapped.

‘O what a tangled web we weave . . . ‘.

LABOUR PARTY FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST

As you know, I’ve written about Bute Energy a number of times. They even got a mention at the end of paragraph 2 in the first section of this post.

What became clear once I started looking into Bute’s activities in Wales was that this company had very quickly realised that Labour Party support would be a big help in realising its plans for 20+ wind farms.

Which explains why Bute recruited to its Welsh Advisory Board redundant Labour MEP Derek Vaughan, and John Uden, the partner of Labour MS Jenny Rathbone, who sits on the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee.

Bute Energy’s Welsh Advisory Board. Click to open enlarged in open tab

Quite what this Welsh Advisory Board advises on is not stated, but I think we can all guess. And the recruitment didn’t end there.

Also taken aboard the treasure ship Bute was David James Taylor, former spad to Labour stars, from Peter Hain to Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones. Taylor was made a partner in Bute-linked outfit Grayling Capital LLP (though he’s since left), and also given shares in Windward Enterprises Ltd, another Bute company. (Which he still holds.)

It occurred to me that if Bute Energy was so keen to cwtsh up to Labour then political donations should be considered. And so I wrote to the Bruvvers’ HQ in Cardiff.

On June 8 I sent this e-mail:

‘Bute Energy Ltd (Co No: 12474011), in various guises, seeks to build – or at least, obtain planning permission for – some 20 wind farms in Wales. A company has been formed for each wind farm.

Has the Labour Party in Wales / ‘Welsh Labour’ party received a donation or donations from Bute Energy Ltd, or from companies under the Bute Energy umbrella, or from leading director Oliver James Millican, or from other persons, perhaps former employees of Labour politicians?’

But I have received neither acknowledgement nor reply. Can you believe that – the Comrades ignoring me!

‘WELSH GOVERNMENT’ FUNDS NATIONAL TRUST

About a month or so ago we heard that the National Trust was taking over the Hafod Estate in Ceredigion. I covered it here, in the section ‘Bristol fashion’.

The article in the Cambrian News to which I’ve linked suggests there may have been funding involved. To clarify this point I submitted a Freedom of Information request to the ‘Welsh Government’.

Here is the response I received yesterday. With the important bit extracted below.

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The ‘Welsh Government’ has gifted an English organisation worth billions of pounds a Welsh asset and also handed over £700,000 for ‘capital investment’. From which the National Trust will profit, through charging visitors.

Many of whom will be Welsh.

And there will almost certainly be more than £700,000. For a well-informed contact with whom I shared this information in advance reminded me that the National Trust will now be eligible for Glastir woodland grants.

As if that wasn’t enough, my contact also suggests that, because the announcement was made by Dawn Bowden, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, there will probably be Arts grants as well.

Note that this generosity is explained by quoting the “‘Welsh Government’ wellbeing objectives”. This refers to the Well-being of Future Generation (Wales) Act 2015. Airy-fairy nonsense that has since been used to justify every insanity hiding under the ‘environmental’ blanket.

Environmental concerns are used to disguise giving away our homeland piece by piece – ‘Cos we are savin’ the planet, like’.

The truth of course is that this legislation simply rolled out the red carpet for colonialist exploitation.

It even talks of future generations. But those future generations won’t be Welsh.

UPDATE: Well, whaddya know, a couple of hours after putting out this post I got a reply from Natural Resources Wales to my FoI of June 16.

Main points seem to be that negotiations with the National Trust have been going on since June 2019; no one else was invited to express an interest; NRW has no idea why Dawn Bowden was involved; NRW will continue to manage the Hafod Estate forestry operation.

GREEN HOUSING

My attention has been drawn  to this rather curious site which suggests some kind of partnership between the ‘Welsh Government’, the National Eisteddfod, and a company called LivEco, to build “sustainable homes at affordable prices”.

The location of these desirable properties being Great House Farm in Cardiff, between Culverhouse Cross and St Fagan’s National Museum of History.

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So let’s look at this company, LivEco. Companies House tells us LivEco Homes Ltd was formed in September 2018, but it’s dormant. The sole director is a Welshman, Daniel James Ball, who seems to live in West Sussex.

Ball’s active company is Mulcare-Ball Ltd. The other director being a woman I assume to be his wife.

So why are we being asked to believe that a dormant company is building these dwellings at Great House Farm?

Mulcare-Ball has an arrangement (charge) with the Principality Building Society. Though the date given here is February 2, 2013, the document itself takes us back a year and also mentions Hale Construction Ltd.

If it’s this company, then Hale Construction was a one-man band on Merseyside, Incorporated December 2011 and Dissolved August 2015 without, apparently, making a penny.

Another company worth mentioning is Great House Farm Community Ltd, which I assume to be a residents’ association. This was Incorporated in March 2013, which makes sense; though the only director or member was Ball until June 25 last year. When he was replaced by two others using Great House addresses.

Something else that makes me a little wary of this whole project is what I learnt from the Land Registry title register.

First, it tells us that Daniel James Ball and his wife bought this land in July 2009. We also learn that the properties built by Mulcare-Ball Ltd are being leased rather than sold.

The ‘Welsh Government’ has more than once expressed a desire to phase out leasehold in Wales, so why is it in partnership with a company building properties to lease?

Or, to put it another way, why does the ‘Welsh Government’ need to be involved at all? The same question could be asked of the Eisteddfod.

I may return to this subject.

NO COAL

The Aberpergwm mine, near Glyn-Neath, produces highest quality anthracite coal that is used for all manner of purposes, including water filtration. But it will not be chucked on a fire or shovelled into a furnace.

It is rarely if ever burned.

In January, approval was given for mining operations to continue. This prompted the Green Party of Englandandwales to burst into, ‘When will they ever learn’, with Julie James’ deputy Lee Waters joining in the chorus.

(In an eye-watering falsetto because someone had him by the balls!)

The latest news is that a legal challenge is to be mounted by a group called the Coal Action Network (CAN). If you’ve never heard of them, that may be because the company wasn’t formed until February 16.

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And it is a standard, commercial entity. Not a Community Interest Company (CIC), or any form of community benefit framework. I suspect it claims to be an umbrella group for smaller, more local organisations.

Though I’m not aware of any genuinely local opposition at Aberpergwm itself. Certainly not from the 200 or so people who work there. Nor from the businesses benefitting from the money those workers put into the local economy.

The address given for the Coal Action Network is Halton Mill, in Lancaster, north west England, owned by Green property developer Lancaster Cohousing. Which suggests it’s little more than an accommodation address for CAN. They certainly don’t get a mention on the website.

It would be easy to dismiss the Coal Action Network as just another little gang of over-excited eco zealots. But these groups often front for bigger players, or there’s serious money behind them.

So be watchful out there. Protect Welsh jobs and Welsh interests from the misguided attention of the brainwashed foot-soldiers of the World Economic Forum and others with globalist agendas designed to crush the little guy. Agendas enthusiastically endorsed by socialists.

And, finally, look out for these clowns sending letters to local papers, lobbying politicians, and pretending they’re local objectors.

STUMP UP FOR TREES, INTERTWINING

A group getting a lot of publicity, and regular attention from the ‘Welsh Government’, is Stump Up For Trees (SUFT). Predictably, and like so many others of its type, this little enterprise is based in south Powys.

Though cut through the enviro-bullshit and SUFT seems to be little more than a greenwashing operation for Utility Warehouse.

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Most of those involved with SUFT have either relocated to Wales or don’t even live in Wales. For as with all these ‘conservation’ land grabs, Welsh involvement is minimal.

Though the website informs us, of the man in the photograph, and founder of SUFT, ‘Dr Keith Powell is a seventh-generation Black Mountains farmer and a vet’. Though I don’t think he’s actually done much farming, and came home when he realised there was serious money to be made in trees.

Stump Up For Trees is registered as a charity. Though when I went to the Charity Commission website to check the details I was somewhat surprised not to see Powell listed as a trustee. I assume the desired impression is that of hands-off trustees.

But who do we see there!

Why! it’s Richard James Roderick, who farms across the Usk from Gilestone farm. As I told you in my earlier post ‘Gilestone Revisited’, Roderick was taken to the USA in 2018 by Dŵr Cymru. After which he was debriefed by Natural Resources Wales’ Land Management Forum Agri-Pollution Sub Group.

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Then he and his companion on the US trip (and at the debriefing), Keri Davies, set up the Beacons Water Group. And do you know who joined them at BWG – none other than Charles Weston, the man who sold Gilestone to the ‘Welsh Government’ for the ludicrous sum of £4.25m!

As if that wasn’t enough, another BWG director, Tony Martineau, teaches at Coleg Soros, Talgarth. While George Soros’ favourite educational establishment, Bard College, has links with the Watershed Agricultural Council, the hosts for the 2018 US trip.

Enough! Old Jac can’t take any more connections.

Why should the ‘Welsh Government’s favourite farmer be involved with Stump Up For Trees? Then again, why not, he seems to be involved in everything else?

And even though the Bruvvers in Corruption Bay love Roderick, he’s a ronk Tory.

MORE TREES . . . OR ELSE!

To make sense of the ‘Welsh Government’s latest assault on the farming industry you must understand the Labour Party’s relationship with the Welsh countryside.

Labour has no MPs and no SMs representing rural constituencies. For these seats either vote Conservative, Plaid Cymru or, irregularly, usually in Powys, Liberal Democrat.

It wasn’t always so.

There was a time within living memory when Labour could rely on the votes of farm labourers, and even smaller farmers. Also, other rural, working class people. The Merionethshire seat – now part of Dwyfor Meirionnydd and held by Plaid Cymru for almost 50 years – was a straight fight between Labour, centred on the slate town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, and the Liberals, still relying to a great extent on the chapel vote.

Will Edwards, last Labour MP for Merionethshire, 1966 – 1974. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

Then came the 1960s, and the national reawakening. The protests and the bombs. Tryweryn, Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (MAC), the Free Wales Army (FWA), Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg  CyIG) . . . and the rise of Plaid Cymru.

Labour now saw its hegemony in Wales threatened by a new force that it believed to be essentially rural in character. Certainly rural in origin. And Labour has been wary of the countryside, and its native inhabitants, ever since.

In many Labour politicians this suspicion became outright and undisguised hostility.

The rise of the environmental movement, coupled with the powers given by devolution, have allowed the Labour Party through successive ‘Welsh Governments’ to exert control over rural areas where it has little or no electoral support. While more recently, under the influence of ‘environmentalists’ eyeing Welsh land, exacting what can only be interpreted as revenge.

Which brings us up to date.

Labour’s activists in rural areas tend to be English, middle class, vegetarian (if not vegan, or subsisting entirely on water and good karma), most of them climate / environment ranters who compare hard-working farmers to concentration camp guards.

This is the background for understanding the Welsh Government’s latest attack on farmers encouraged by – possibly written by – the aforementioned environmental groups.

Though this latest pronunciamiento from Corruption Bay also helps us understand the long-term objectives. And makes a few other things clear.

The ‘Welsh Government is attempting a divide and rule strategy with farmers. Certain farmers are being wooed, and so perhaps is the National Farmers Union. And it seems to be working.

It’s no coincidence that these favoured farmers tend to be Tory-voters, on better land, suited to tree planting, and in almost exclusively English-speaking areas.

Which means that the excluded farmers are more likely to be found on marginal land, more difficult for growing trees, possibly tenant farmers, and certainly more likely to be Welsh speaking. (And Farmers Union of Wales members?)

In fact, areas such as the Summit to Sea rewilding project was hoping – with ‘Welsh Government’ support – to take over. The areas from where Labour, in the 1960s, perceived the ‘threat’ to have emerged.

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Which means that this assault on farmers might be interpreted as an attack on the Welsh language, and Welsh rural culture in general. If so, then the politicos in Corruption Bay, and the enviroshyster land-grabbers whispering in their ears, are in for a fight.

Predictably, the announcement was welcomed by Kate Beavan. Who’s she? You haven’t been paying attention, or following the links, have you?

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Kate Beavan, as the Stump Up For Trees website tells us, ‘ . . . joined SUFT at the beginning of 2021. She is actually employed by our partners and friends, Coed Cymru.’

Kate Beavan may have been recruited to Coed Cymru by director Philip David Jayne, who lives in Crughywel.

Yet more bloody connections!

To explain . . .

Coed Cymru is one of the 357 (and rising) ‘woodland’ groups currently operating in Wales. Fighting like ferrets in a sack to take over Welsh land and get their sweaty mitts on Welsh public funding.

When you check out the Companies House entry for Coed Cymru Cyf you realise that, despite the company name, there’s little Welsh involvement.

But plenty of Welsh funding.

‘Plus ça change . . . ‘.

UKRAINE AND THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

It would be inhuman to suggest that anything good is coming from the death and suffering in Ukraine. And I won’t do that, but harsh lessons are being learnt.

Among them, the realisation that to pretend an advanced economy can rely on intermittent renewables to supply its energy needs is madness. As Germany is learning.

The drive for ‘Net Zero’, orchestrated by The United Nations and the World Economic Forum, is taking hits daily as collateral damage from the conflict in Ukraine. With Germany perhaps the biggest loser.

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Another casualty could be the Netherlands, where farmers, fishermen, truckers and others are protesting because the government wants to reduce the number of farms by 30 per cent.

But the mainstream media largely ignores this!

We are in dangerous times. Supranational bodies like those mentioned want to regulate all aspects of human behaviour. They have captured many national governments, media outlets, and social media giants, who are urged to suppress divergent views as ‘disinformation’.

The justification being that the planet is in grave danger, and so we need to be saved from ourselves . . . all for our own good, of course.

With the result that we are sleepwalking into a form of totalitarianism that sits astride the unicorn of environmentalism.

And this is another reason we – through arming and exploiting brave Ukrainians – are waging war on Russia – because Vladimir Putin refused to bow to these supranational tyrants.

But the ‘Welsh Government’ surrendered long ago. And gave up Wales for sacrifice.

ENLARGED SENEDD

Last weekend in a smoke-free conference room ‘Welsh’ Labour decided to back the plan for increasing Senedd numbers from the current 60 to 96. Which was widely supported, I believe only the Conservative and Unionist Party was opposed.

But part of the bigger package was a change in how Senedd members will be elected in future. And this proved much more contentious. With four constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) – Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda, Swansea East, Llanelli – voting against.

To explain . . .

Under revised parliamentary boundaries Wales will have 32 Westminster seats. (Down from the current 40.) What Labour proposes (and Plaid Cymru presumably agrees with) is that these new constituencies should be paired, giving us 16, and that each of them should elect six Senedd Members, thus making up the 96 total.

This is to be done using the ‘closed list’ system. Voters choose a party and have to then accept the party’s choice of candidates.

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This is a system designed to favour larger parties and to inhibit the emergence of new parties. Which is no more than we should expect from Labour. For like so many political parties with a socialist heritage Labour is fundamentally undemocratic.

I’m still waiting for Labour’s partner in the current alliance down Corruption Bay to explain why it’s gone along with this system. Though I get the impression Plaid would rather not discuss it.

Labour has tried desperately to polish this turd by promising gender equality. But as Labour has signed up to self-identification, and is a major financial backer of Stonewall, it will obviously accept as ‘women’ men who identify as women.

Which could mean that the new system, designed to achieve gender balance, actually gives us a lower percentage of biological females than we see in the Senedd today!

And then there are other minorities, those so vocal in “breaking down barriers” . . . most of which they themselves have erected. (Or simply imagined.) They’ll demand to be ‘excluded’ no longer. And because they support the Labour Party because the Labour Party funds them their wishes will be granted.

That could give us a Senedd in which the majority is grossly underrepresented.

But who cares – ‘Cos it’s progressive, innit!’

My position is that I do not accept this anti-democratic nonsense. And I would support the UK government stepping in to block it. In fact, I would support the UK government putting an end to devolution itself.

For devolution has delivered nothing to those with whom I identify.

Whereas the SNP in Scotland, returned time after time, has made many Scots believe their country could be even better with independence, here in Wales, the incompetence and waste our people have experienced from malleable mediocrities in Corruption Bay for 23 years makes too many Welsh believe that independence would be even worse.

I remain a nationalist who wants independence, but I see devolution not as a stepping-stone but an obstacle. Maybe that was the intention all along.

And when you think back to what you’ve read here, can you disagree?

♦ end ♦

© Royston Jones 2022


Bristol Fashion, Local Benefits, Magic Wallpaper, Island In The Sun, Maasai Resistance, Gilestone Update

This week I bring yet more tales of colonialism dressed up as ‘saving the planet’; involving assorted enviroshysters, multifarious con men; all aided, abetted, and funded, by those collaborating buffoons down Corruption Bay.

This is another biggie, but broken down into easily-digestible chunks. (Add condiments and flavourings to taste.)

BRISTOL FASHION

Let’s begin with a piece from the Cambrian News, a ‘paper that circulates along Cardigan Bay, with its main office in Aberystwyth.

For reasons I’ve never been able to fathom, I’m blocked from the CN Twitter account. Me! I can only assume it’s a case of mistaken identity.

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The story we’re going to look at tells that the National Trust is to take over the running of the Hafod (Uchtryd) Estate, inland of Aberystwyth, just east of Pont-Rhyd-y-Groes. The estate seems to be owned by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and run in partnership with the Hafod Trust (HT).

Here’s the leaflet on Hafod issued by NRW.

Though when I tried to find out from the Land Registry website who owns what I drew a blank. Using the LR map search brought up what you see below. Yet this area must be part of the estate, with Hafod church, the public park, even a car park.

It was the same across the whole site, apart from the individual dwellings. Nor could I find a definitive map of the estate.

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But as I say, it seems NRW owns the estate, but leases it to HT. Confirmed by the HT accounts referring to a holiday cottage known as Hawthorne Cottage / Pwll Pendre, and the title document saying this property was leased in December 2000 for 25 years from The National Assembly for Wales.

It could be the same lease arrangement for the whole estate. So, with the lease coming to an end in just over three years, NRW and / or the ‘Welsh Government’ decided that instead of renewing the lease with the Hafod Trust they’d turn to the National Trust.

I suspect the Hafod Trust has been largely left to its own devices at the estate, but now it looks as if it’s either relinquishing control over Hafod, or else it’s being elbowed out.

The Hafod Trust had one full-time and a few part-time employees. These are joining the National Trust.

What we see happening at Hafod is in keeping with NRW’s activities. Which include undermining Welsh agriculture, encouraging corporate greenwash, and giving away bits of Wales to enviroshysters and assorted bodies from over the Dyke.

Or else buying land as a stage for its own planet-saver posturing.

At Hafod the beneficiary is a quintessentially English organisation, the National Trust. Yes, it adds ‘Cymru’ to fool gullible natives, but fundamentally it remains manicured lawns, print frocks, and, “More tea, vicar?

Though there was attempted infiltration by Wokies. So maybe now it’s, “Pour your own tea, you myth-peddling, white supremacist running-dog of imperialism”.

Or not, as the case may be.

Whatever, here’s how the takeover is described on the NT website.

Note, “National Trust Cymru and Natural Resources Wales have come together with support from Welsh Government to secure the estate’s future.” This, I assume, means financial support.

But why should the ‘Welsh Government’ pay a wealthy organisation like the National Trust anything to take over an asset from which the NT is guaranteed to make money?

Any payment should have been by the National Trust to the ‘Welsh Government’, which is entrusted with getting the best possible value from the disposal of publicly-owned assets.

And there was no mention of the HT trustees. Though a few other people are mentioned.

First, there’s Lhosa Daly, the “Interim Director of National Trust Cymru”.

Then there’s Clare Pillman, chief executive of Natural Resources Wales. She has a fascinating background, and has been involved in numerous extravaganzas of the ‘Rule Britannia’ variety.

Finally, speaking for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ we have, “Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden“. Which a correspondent thought was odd, wondering why it wasn’t someone with an environmental or conservation portfolio.

He has a point. But after a bit of digging, it all became clear. Certainly after seeing Daly’s Twitter account.

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Daly is a solicitor, and has been chair of the Bristol branch of the Institute of Directors. She first came to Wales in September 2018 to work for the National Trust as assistant director of operations for South Wales.

She gives as her location on Twitter, “Western Gateway”. Which seems to have begun life as a ‘Sub-national Transport Body’ for local authorities in south west England, but has somehow morphed into a plan for a cross-border “powerhouse”.

In other words, the Greater Bristol Region.

Daly was appointed to the Western Gateway board just over a year ago. Which I find interesting. For she joins the Greater Bristol gang and then she’s made head of the National Trust in Wales. Are these appointments connected?

I ask because I’m sure the National Trust in Wales will be one of the bodies contributing to the development of the ‘Western Gateway’, ostensibly speaking for Wales.

Which hat will Lhosa Daly be wearing?

Oh, I almost forgot, she would also have the option of wearing her Wales Arts Council hat.

I’m certain Ms Daly lives in Bristol. Which is fitting, because Dawn Bowden, the Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, who has been instrumental in the deal for the NT to take over Hafod, is also from Bristol.

Did Bowden and Lhosa Daly know each other before the discussions over the Hafod Estate? And if it wasn’t due to the Bristol connection, why was Bowden involved at all? It’s outside her remit.

The map below shows Hafod Estate contains a lot of trees, part of which is said to be a “working forest”. But if Hafod is to be devoted to tourism (which is what the National Trust is all about) will there be a place for a commercial timber operation?

Perhaps not. But as we know, nowadays there are other ways of making money from trees – without touching them! And so I predict that Hafod will prove a nice little earner for the National Trust.

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One of the first acts of a devolved government should have been setting up a Welsh organisation to do the work of the National Trust. A body looking after our heritage, on our behalf, and answering to us, the Welsh people. But the opportunity was spurned.

Which is why, after 23 years of devolution, we are discussing an Englishwoman representing our ‘Welsh Government’; another, Natural Resources Wales; with the two handing over another Welsh treasure to an English organisation run locally by a third Englishwoman.

This is colonialism. And even without the Bristol connection, this reeks of yet another ‘Welsh Government’ gift to a favoured body in a deal done behind closed doors with no pretence of a tendering process.

LOCAL BENEFITS (WELL, LOCAL TO SOMEWHERE)

The next report also comes from the Cambrian News, and concerns that other enviroshyster money-spinner – wind turbines.

Specifically, a test mast to be erected at Bryn Brawd, the highest point in an area described in the caption accompanying the image used by the CN as being, “on the outskirts of Llanddewi Brefi”.

In fact, it’s quite some distance from the south-eastern suburbs of that metropolis lying between Cwmann and Tregaron.

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On the plus side, the company involved is Waun Maenllwyd Wind Energy Hub Ltd. Probably a Welsh company. Phew!

Well . . .

There is indeed a company of that name but – and you won’t believe this – it’s based in Bristol! And until March this year it was known as BPUWL 11 Ltd. In fact, there’s a slew of companies using those letters as a name.

One of them, BPUWL 16 Ltd, also changed its name in March, to Craig y Geifr Wind Energy Hub Ltd. It shares the Bristol office address, and officers, with Maenllwyd Wind Energy Hub Ltd.

From what I’ve learnt, Craig y Geifr is a ridge or an escarpment between Nant-y-Moel in the Ogwr Valley and Pentre in the Rhondda.

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And it looks to be quite a beautiful area. A reminder of what our southern valleys were like before industrialisation.

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Seeing as there are plantations close to Craig y Geifr, I assume that the land is owned by Natural Resources Wales. As for Bryn Brawd, I’m not sure. Unfortunately, the Land Registry offers no help.

So let’s focus on the two companies, Waun Maenllwyd Wind Energy Hub Ltd and Craig y Geifr Wind Energy Hub Ltd. What can the Companies House website tell us?

Now pay attention, because this may not be easy to follow.

When we click on the ‘People’ tab, and then, ‘Persons with significant control‘, we bring up the name, Belltown Power UK Wind Ltd. When we find the entry for this company, and go through the same procedure, we bring up Foresight Belltown UK Wind Development Ltd.

Following the pattern with Foresight Belltown UK Wind Development Ltd we bring up Blackmead Infrastructure Ltd. Same procedure for Blackmead brings up Averon Park Ltd.

Wee digression.

Averon Park has three directors. One is Philip Lloyd-Jones, described as ‘adviser’. The name is Welsh, so I got to wondering. And I found a solicitor of that name in Mold. Though since early in 2018 the practice has been part of Gamlins.

Unusually, for an enquiry like this, Gamlins is a Welsh company. Though Philip Lloyd-Jones is not listed among the directors. But we do find Vernon Oliver in what would otherwise be a Welsh girl band.

But I digress! Again.

Returning to Averon Park, all but one of the shares are held by Foresight Fund Managers Ltd. Which is in turn owned by Foresight Group Holdings (UK) Ltd. And, finally, Foresight Group Holdings (UK) Ltd is owned by Foresight Group founder Bernard William Fairman, using a Guernsey address.

The name ‘Foresight’ should ring a bell. These are the buggers who, thanks to the encouragement of the ‘Welsh Government’, have been buying up farms on which they’re going to plant ‘carbon capture’ trees.

Having received so much bad publicity over the trees scam it looks as if Foresight might be switching to wind farms. But staying in Wales because those assholes in Corruption Bay are such a pushover.

But of course Foresight only manage other people’s money. In the case of the two windfarms we’ve looked at, the clue as to whose money it could be might be found in the ‘Belltown’ element of the names.

Because I suspect that Foresight has linked up with Belltown Power, a company now based in London but founded by US citizen Michael Joshua Kaplan.

North Data provides some information on Kaplan. Beneath the Network diagram it lists various companies, and the top one, Awel Newydd Cyf – owned through Petersham Holdco Ltd – should interest my Welsh readers.

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I can’t tell you much more about this company, I certainly couldn’t find a website, only various company profiles. What I do know is that it’s linked to Foresight, it was based in Bristol, though one entry gives an address in Mold.

Now who do we know in Mold? Thinks . . .

The accounts for y/e April 1, 2021 show ‘Plant and Machinery’ valued at £53,672,808 (before depreciation). That kind of money is not to be sniffed at.

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How come we haven’t heard of this great Welsh success story?

I’ll spare you another twisty-turny route, but ultimate ownership of Awel Newydd Cyf rests with Stephen George Geddes, who’s married to Clarissa vom Hagen-Plettenberg, is the grandson of the 1st Baron Geddes, and great-grandson of Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria.

Takes me back to fin de siècle Vienna! You should have seen me in my hussars uniform! Waltzing the night away. 

That may all have come crashing down in 1918, but over a hundred years later we find Hapsburg descendants exploiting us!

Staying with Foresight, it seems they’re busy across Wales.

These links tell they’re in league with Tilhill Forestry and Coleg Cambria Llysfai in the north east. But Foresight is based in the Shard! Those working for Foresight don’t know one bloody tree from another. But here they are burnishing their environmental credentials by paying Tilhill to give courses.

There’s even a video!

And Foresight seems to be embedded in the ‘Welsh Government’, for the name crops up everywhere in WG publications. Such as here (page 22).

Finally, and most worryingly of all, Foresight is allowed to brainwash young children. Here they are, again collaborating with Tilhill, using kids from Talyllychau to plant trees on a farm Foresight has bought!

Did Carmarthenshire education authority know about this insulting bullshit? What the hell was the teacher thinking to allow the kids in his care to be brainwashed by a company buying up local farms?

And have you heard of a ‘seed portfolio transaction‘? No, nor me. But that’s the kind of business Foresight is doing at Banc Farm, where those kids were exploited.

There’s more information here. It looks as if money is being made by Foresight before the trees are even planted.

‘PSSST, I GOT A GREAT IDEA’

At a recent gathering of the Honourable Company of Magic Bean Salesmen many toasts were drunk to the ‘Welsh Government’ and associated bodies.

Hardly surprising when we recall how many schemes of dubious merit (I will say no more than that!) have received funding in Wales. A new one came to my attention a few weeks ago.

Here’s a report showing Julie James, Environment Minister in the ‘Welsh Government’ looking interested in magic wallpaper that it’s claimed can replace radiators as a source of heat. James should be interested because her lot are funding this project for Melin Homes in Torfaen.

“Do it come in a nice red flock? Cos our tŷ bach is cowin’ freezin’ in the winter. Send some round to my office, love”. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

So who is the lucky recipient of this ‘Welsh Government’ largesse? The company mentioned is NextGen. So, you know me . . .

There are many, many ‘NextGen’ companies, but we need to look at this one. Despite the quite impressive website, NextGen Heating Ltd is a one-man band, and it’s in debt.

Not a great start.

The sole director is Clive David Osborne. Yet in all the reports on the ‘magic wallpaper’ his name was never mentioned, just the incomplete and misleading name of his company. So what’s his record?

I’ve drawn up a list of companies he’s been involved with in recent years. There have been others, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he played a minor role in their demise.

I’ve included Crush Holdings because it may link with something else I’ll be telling you.

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With so many failures I began to wonder how he kept the wolf (re-introduced to Berkshire in a rewilding project) from his door. The answer may be provided by the Paradise Papers.

For Clive David Osborne is linked to an enterprise in Malta. An island where just about anything goes. “You want an EU passport, Mr Putin? No problemo”. “You want an annoying blogger whacked? Leave it to us”.

Here’s the link. (The nodes are moveable.)

It tells us that Osborne is director, secretary, and judicial representative for Mosta Electronics Centre on Constitution Street in the town of Mosta. Though the website only mentions founder, Joseph Zerata.

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So what is the connection between Clive David Osborne and the Mosta Electronics Centre? I can’t know for sure, but one possibility might take us back to his flirtation with those Sons of Nippon.

For a bloke in the pub told me it’s possible to buy equipment online that can access satellite TV, for free, and that this equipment can be had from certain Mediterranean islands where rules about such things are somewhat lax.

Alternatively, and seeing as Mosta Electronics sells Chinese brands such as (the German-sounding) Haier, maybe this ‘magic wallpaper’ technology comes from the land of the Uyghur concentration camps. A country whose most noteworthy contribution to humanity in recent years has been Covid.

Whatever the answer, we know enough about Clive David Osborne to ask why the hell Melin Homes let him in the door, and why the ‘Welsh Government’ is funding his ‘magic wallpaper’.

I look forward to hearing the answers.

ISLAND IN THE SUN

The Conservative and Unionist Party MP for Ynys Môn is Virginia Crosbie, and she’s appeared on this blog in the recent past. This was when Covid first hit and questions were being asked about where she was living, and whether she was breaking lockdown.

Similar questions were asked of her friend and parliamentary colleague, Jake Berry, who owns a number of properties in the constituency she represents. Questions were also being asked about his movements during the pandemic.

Just type their names into the search box to get more information.

The reason you’re reading about Crosbie is due to her opposition to a 1200-acre solar farm on the island. And anti-nuclear lefties telling her to “smell the coffee”. (Do people still use that silly expression?)

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Let me make clear that I was against the proposed Wylfa B because the construction phase would have damaged a fragile cultural identity, and that’s without considering the strain that would be put on local infrastructure and housing by thousands of workers, almost all of whom would come from outside of Wales.

But I am not opposed to nuclear in principle, and there are smaller options to Wylfa B.

The company behind this solar array is Lightsource BP Renewable Energy Investments Ltd. Here’s their website, and here’s their Companies House entry.

Previously known as Lightsource Renewable Investments Ltd, and then Lightsource Renewable Energy Investments Ltd, the ‘BP’ was added in February 2018 when BP Alternative Energy Investments Ltd (formerly BP Biofuels UK Ltd) took over.

Fossil fuel giant BP getting into renewables is the most obvious kind of greenwash.

But don’t get me wrong, old Jac’s got nothing against oil and gas, because I’ve still got enough operational grey matter to know that we can’t live well without them, whether there’s a war in eastern Europe or not.

What’s more, I know who’s pushing us towards expensive and unreliable alternatives to oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. And I know why they’re doing it. They are not friends of Western society.

If the ‘Welsh Government’, and our local authorities, were sincere in their commitment to the environment, they’d tell BP and all the other enviroshysters to reduce their carbon footprint rather than cover good land with wind turbines, solar farms, and sterile, monoculture forests.

But that would deny our politicians the opportunities they crave to ponce around and posture, claiming to be saving the planet. 

Because that’s what it’s all about – political posturing.

MAASAI RESISTANCE

Let me draw your attention to something happening in east Africa. As I understand it, the Tanzanian government has agreed to enclose land for ‘reserves’ on which Gulf royals can go trophy shooting.

There are so many wrong things bundled up in what I’ve just written. But no doubt a great deal of money changed hands.

The Maasai, who claim the land, are being denied access. But they’re fighting back. As this tweet explains. While Modern Ghana reports that a policeman has been killed.

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Wouldn’t it be great if shyster greenwashers and land-grabbing ‘environmentalists’ got that kind of reception in Wales!

The international message: This land is our land!

GILESTONE UPDATE

Finally, a few weeks ago, in Green Man, Red Herring?, I reported on the curious business of the ‘Welsh Government’ paying £4.25m for Gilestone Farm, at Talybont-on-Usk.

The purchase was allegedly made for the Green Man festival . . . which said it had no intention of relocating from the Glanusk Estate, had not submitted a business plan, and seemed almost as surprised as the rest of us by the news of its good fortune.

In the hope of getting a bit more information I submitted a Freedom of Information request. Here’s the link to the response received yesterday.

It confirms there was no tendering process to invite bids from others who might have been interested, no business plan has been received from Green Man, but the purchase was still made on solid economic grounds. Absolutely absurd!

Previous owners of the land had stressed to me that while the farm was indeed valuable, the real value lies in the substantial deposits of sand and gravel on which the farm sits.

So in my FoI I asked who now holds the mineral rights to the land.

The question was not answered, on the grounds that the information is available elsewhere. Which would be true if the details of the recent purchase were available on the Land Registry website. But for whatever reason, the most recent title register available lists the sale in 2010.

So, really, I know little more than I’d already learnt from my own enquiries.

The purchase of Gilestone Farm is yet another deal done with public money, in secret, by an administration that is out of control, out of its depth, and no longer cares what people think.

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


Grant-grabbers, How They Are Related

‘BESPOKE ACTIVITY SESSIONS’

I am indebted to Brychan, a regular visitor to this blog, for drawing my attention to another example of misguided do-gooding, this time linking with enviroshysters and the ‘heritage’ racket – yea! even unto the Strata Florida Trust! (You couldn’t make this up!)

We start in the Elan Valley, the collective name for a number of reservoirs vaguely south east of Aberystwyth that supply fresh water to Birmingham. Built in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century these reservoirs occupy land much of which was compulsorily purchased.

But let’s not be negative, for as the Elan valley website tells us, “The choice of the Elan Valley as the source of Birmingham’s future water supplies was to lead to the creation of a spectacular new landscape in mid-Wales.” (Who writes this patronising crap!)

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“The Elan Estate is owned by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water although a greater part of it is vested in the Elan Valley Trust on a 999 year lease.” Does Dŵr Cymru own the reservoirs and dams or just the land surrounding them? Either way, the water goes to Brum for free.

From what I can see, the Elan Valley Estate is a tourist playground doubling up as a nature reserve. But the estate also runs ‘courses’ for superannuated hippies and others who have washed up in Wales. Now it’s branching out.

Some of these courses are run by an outfit called Tir Coed, which describes itself as ” . . . a charity and social enterprise that engages people with woodlands through volunteering, training and bespoke activities that develop skills and improve woodlands for the benefit of everyone”. The kind of gibberish I encounter all the time, dreamt up to justify the existence of a group and, more importantly, its funding.

Here’s a screen capture from the Tir Coed Charity Commission page. We shall refer to this later.

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The project to which I want to draw your attention is something called Elan Gives Back, the premise of which is so unutterably colonialist that you’ll have trouble believing it, but just bear with me.

Last month, representatives of Tir Coed, acting for the Elan Valley Estate, visited Birmingham ” . . . explaining how the project would like to reconnect the people of Birmingham with their water source . . . before explaining about the weekend retreats and bespoke activity sessions in the Elan Valley available through Elan Gives Back.” Read it for yourself.

(‘Bespoke activity sessions! Bloody hell! I know people who’ve been done for offering that sort of thing.)

If this venture is a ‘success’, then we can expect to see Brummie drug addicts, petty criminals and others having a jolly old time on the Elan Valley Estate. And at our expense, because of course Tir Coed, being a charity and a social enterprise, relies almost exclusively on grant funding.

The biggest single funder for year ending March 31 2015 was the Big Lottery Fund, which coughed up £82,783; but in there with other grants we see the Countryside Council for Wales, £35,000; Natural Resources Wales, £20,000; Llanidloes Town Council, £3,000; and Jobs Growth Wales, £11,276.

The only way I can interpret Elan Gives Back is that someone, somewhere, believes the area owes Birmingham something. But, surely, Birmingham, responsible for the enforced eviction of the area’s population, and the subsequent exploitation of Welsh resources, owes us. If Liverpool can apologise for Tryweryn then why can’t Birmingham apologise for Elan?

And if that is the thinking behind it, then what twisted colonialist mind could have dreamed up Elan Gives Back?

Finally, we need to consider what it says on the Charity Commission website, shown in the screen capture I referred you to earlier. Tir Coed’s stipulated ‘Area of Benefit’ is Wales. Birmingham is not in Wales, and I object strongly to public funding, much of it Welsh, being used to give bespoke weekends in the Welsh countryside to Brummie ne’er-do-wells. I further object to this being done as some kind of ‘apology’ for them having to drink our water!

Someone, maybe the Charity Commission, or the funders, needs to investigate this bollocks.

LINKS AND COINCIDENCES

Take yourself back to the Charity Commission website for Tir Coed and click on the box ‘Contact & trustees’ (on the left), you’ll bring up a list of trustees. Top of that list is a ‘Mr J Wildig’.

Wildig is also a trustee of the Plynlimon Heritage Trust (note the corrupted spelling of Pumlumon) and also Ymddiriedolaeth Yr Hafod Hafod Trust.

In fairness, the first of those seems to have raked in very little money and is now almost defunct, but give it its due, it used the tried and tested method, even the descriptive template, “The Trust enables work on heritage projects within the Ceredigion uplands”.

The second of Wildig’s trusts is connected with the Hafod Estate near Cwmystwyth. He is also a director of Pentir Pumlumon Cyf, which markets the area to tourists, while of course giving plugs to various trusts, such as Strata Florida, which is ‘flagged’ on its interactive ‘attractions’ map.

The Hafod Estate is managed by Natural Resources Wales “in partnership with the Hafod Trust”. It’s noticeable how many of the ‘trusts’ and individuals this blog has looked at recently work with NRW.

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Hawthorn Cottage, available for rent on the Hafod Estate

When talking of 19th century mining operations the Pentir Pumlumon website is keen to remind us that “Miners migrated to the area from Cornwall, Yorkshire, and elsewhere: their names can be found on gravestones in country churchyards and some of their descendants are here still”. Stressing a long-standing English (and Cornish) presence in the area seems to have been important for whoever wrote that.

Sites like this, written by English people trying to describe a country of which they have no real understanding beyond its perceived potential to benefit them; and for which they have little appreciation beyond the visual, the scenic, remind me of those 19th century posters encouraging English settlement in some benighted corner of the empire where the natives had recently been quelled.

Also involved with the Plynlimon Heritage Trust is Jennifer Jill Macve, whose name crops up a number of times in connection with Wildig. Macve is also a trustee of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust where, again, you’ll struggle to find any Welsh involvement.

Before bidding the omnipresent J Wildig adieu it should surprise no one to learn that he is also a trustee of the Strata Florida Trust, the body you’ve read about on this blog over recent weeks. (If you haven’t, then read Ystrad Fflur – The Heritage Industry Moves On and Conserving Heritage, Maintaining Colonialism.)

To make sense of the plethora of ‘heritage’ and ‘preservation’ trusts that have sprung up in Wales during the past couple of decades it might help if you visit the website for the United Kingdom Association of Preservation Trusts (APT). Here’s the APT’s Wales page.

The screen capture below explains it all. There was a development officer in Wales 2004 – 2008, and “over a third of Trusts in Wales were formed in the past seven years”. And to cheer you up even more, “There are also examples of Trusts still being formed, such as the Welsh Georgian Building Trust, and the Llanelli Goods Trust.” (I suspect there might be Welsh involvement in the latter, but not the former.)

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HEADING SOUTH

If we go back for a sec to the Tir Coed website, and look at the ‘Contact’ page, then we see that it offers three addresses. One is presumably its HQ in Aberystwyth. Another is its Elan operation, where it ‘Gives Back’ bespoke weekends, and the third is Denmark Farm, Betws Bledrws, near Lampeter.

So now you’re wondering what denizens of that parallel universe sustained by grants await at Denmark Farm. You will not be disappointed. (Oh, yes, before any of you narrow-minded nationalists think the name has been changed, it was always Denmark Farm. Explained here.)

As is the way with these things, Denmark Farm is not just any old farm, run by primitive Welshies who keep animals and grow crops. No, sir, this is a conservation centre, offering eco-friendly holidays, nature trails and, yes – courses!

Confusingly – but not for old Jac! – this lot are registered with the Charity Commission as the Shared Earth Trust. Though the CC website tells us that income is falling, down from £135,000 in 2012 to a mere £45,000 in 2015.

A correspondingly sombre picture is to be found on the Companies House website, with the most recent accounts available (y/e 31.03.2015) informing us that this venture has tangible assets (almost certainly the farm buildings and land) of £310,666 (£324,991 in 2014). Yet ‘total assets less current liabilities’ brings that figure down to £258,346 (£277,418 in 2014). Denmark Farm is in trouble, perhaps it will soon be recycled.

Companies House also tells us there are charges against Denmark Farm. First there’s the mortgage of £170,000 with the Ecology Building Society of West Yorkshire. Then, on the same date, 25.07.2012, there was a loan of £25,000 made by the trustees of the Shared Earth Trust to the Denmark Farm Conservation Centre.

So who’s running things? Well, the three individuals who are both trustees of the Shared Earth Trust and directors of Denmark Farm Conservation Centre are Guy Alistair Hopwood, who lives at Denmark Farm, David Andrew Bradford Smith of Llandrindod, and Glenn Edward Strachan of Penuwch.

denmark-farm-activities

The staff at Denmark Farm – apart from one who seems to be married to a real farmer, living on a real farm – are the usual crew of ecocharlatans. Reading their potted bios reminds us how many silly little projects there are out there.

Take Gary Thorogood, who “moved to this part of Wales with his family 9 years ago after retiring from the Fire Service in London.” His bio mentions his involvement with the Lampeter Permaculture Group and Transition Lambed. (Don’t say you haven’t heard of them!)

Then there’s Mara Morris who lives with chickens, which I suppose is one way of guaranteeing fresh eggs. Next up is James Kendall, ” . . . responsible for procuring external funding so that we can maintain and increase our staffing resource, deliver engaging projects and develop the Shared Earth Trust membership”. The Accounts I’ve quoted would suggest that Kendall is not doing very well as a fund-raiser.

But in fairness, maybe he’s too busy with the Long Wood Community Woodland, where he serves as project manager. “He also works as a Forest School leader(?), woodland skills tutor and runs an outdoor after-school club, Young Rangers.”

Companies House also tells us there is a charge against Long Wood Community Farm. The mortgagee is the Big Lottery Fund and the property is described as “all that freehold property known as land at Long Wood, Llangybi, Lampeter registered at H M Land Registry under title numbers CYM271065, CYM271131, CYM270610”.

What becomes clear when we look into these projects, whether they are heritage and conservation, environment, or even social enterprises and community benefit companies, is that they are not businesses a bank would lend money to for the very simple reason that they are just not viable businesses. So they have to rely on grant funding.

Because they are not financially viable they invariably fail, which results in funding that could be better used being wasted. Those involved in such failures often re-form, take on a new name, and wait for the grant-giving agencies to come up with new funding streams and priorities. It’s a merry-go-round.

Those involved are simply indulging a private passion at public expense, there is no public benefit whatsoever . . . unless of course, you include the ‘courses’ and the ‘bespoke activity sessions’, which are not intended for the likes of us.

What I found interesting in writing this post is that, in J Wildig, we have unearthed a link between the environmental, the social enterprise, and the heritage sectors. Looking beyond this individual there are other linkages and overlaps to be found.

What is also clear is that many of these grant-grabbing groups are located in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, spilling over into neighbouring local authority areas. Suggesting that these two councils offer encouragement; but the major funders remain the ‘Welsh’ Government, in its various guises, and assorted Lottery funding streams.

Everywhere I look in the environmental lobby I see hypocrisy and contradictions. Perhaps the most glaring is the commitment to ‘Nature’ . . . discredited by the belief that Nature would be lost without them managing it.

George Monbiot and others talk of wanting to ‘re-wild’ large tracts of Wales, yet if they were allowed their way they’d produce little more than a manicured woodland where everything down to the last fungus would have its allotted place. They want to play God.

george-monbiot

This sylvan idyll of overbearingly managed ‘wilderness’ would of course provide many jobs and businesses for the kind of people we’ve met in recent posts. Almost all funded from the public purse.

They’d offer courses in yurt construction and other ‘traditional’ crafts. James Kendall could bring his Young Rangers from the Long Wood. With weekend retreats and bespoke activity sessions so that we could fulsomely apologise to Brummies, Scousers, and all the others we’ve wronged. And of course there’d be the tourists. Combining to give us wildlife-free woods constantly ringing to the sound of human voices . . . none of them Welsh.

My idea of re-wilding would be to set aside an area of land and take human beings out of the picture entirely (especially those I’ve been writing about). Let Nature reclaim the land, naturally, as it did when the last ice retreated. Anything else is just a veiled attack on Welsh farming and a scam to milk the public purse.

Fortunately, the figures tell us the funding is drying up, and now, with Brexit, things can only get better. Let’s hope that the ‘Welsh’ Government, the Big Lottery Fund and others come to their senses and free us from heritage racket con men (and women), enviroshysters and all the rest.

UPDATE: I am informed that Monbiot has departed whence he came. That probably accounts for the sounds of raucous celebration that has been reported emanating from local farmhouses.

END

Early on the morrow, Mrs J and I are off to the Old North. I shall be back next weekend. But keep sending in your comments, for Big Gee is in charge as moderator.