Lurking behind the barns in the Gilestone saga I published last week were environmental / wildlife groups. Now I think they need some sunlight.
What prompted my decision was a tweet I saw just over a week ago. The idea that a wildlife trust should be directing the ‘Welsh Government’s farm funding is bizarre.
As I asked in a tweet of my own: “Is the ‘Welsh Government now consulting foxes on chicken coop security?”
The wildlife trusts and environmental groups I’ve encountered in Wales tend to be run by zealots believing the Welsh countryside faces few problems that couldn’t be solved by getting rid of livestock farmers.
Predictable when we remember that these groups contain a worryingly high percentage of vegetarians and vegans. And others of a dictatorial bent.
The Trust is doing very well for itself. With net assets of £2,196,206 in 2021, against £1,899,611 the year before. And £288,436 in the bank (£147,097 in 2020).
That was despite writing off a debt of £10,296 owed by Radnorshire Wildlife Services Ltd. (In all my years of blogging I have encountered few successful ‘trading arms’. They must serve some other purpose.)
In its latest report and accounts (at the foot of page 1) Wildlife Trusts Wales says, “WTW Council unanimously agreed that Wildlife Trust Wales should dissolve as a separate charity”, so why hasn’t it happened?
Wildlife Trusts Wales has chosen to be the local branch of an English body and hopes we’ll generously view it as having a separate existence. A bit like the Green Party.
OUT OF THE WOODWORK
After casting in the direction of James Hitchcock I hooked a few fish.
One specimen I dragged up from the murky depths was a Dr Paul Tubb. (I was tempted to take it easy on him because he might be related to Ernest of that ilk, who gave Hank Williams one of his best songs.)
It wasn’t long into our exchange, with me being the restrained and muted presence I always am, before Tubb came out with this!
As I was quick to clarify – ain’t nothing “so-called” about my nationalism.
Another attempt to silence us by playing the ‘ugly nationalism’ card. Opposing the takeover of our country regularly draws this response, but the takeover itself is just fine. Perhaps even a moral crusade.
I introduce that elevating consideration after being confronted by it in a document produced by Woodknowledge Wales. Which is about as Welsh as the East India Company was Indian.
On page 17 you’ll find the section above. Here’s my interpretation of what it says.
In addition to taking England’s wind turbines, and providing England’s water, Wales should also become England’s forest.
Farming is in the way of “re-forestation”.
“Natural colonisation of land” (by flora and fauna) is not a “morally justifiable . . . option for Wales”.
The claim that there is a moral dimension to this scam is self-deluding bullshit. These are grant-grabbing tree-planters, not theologians or moral philosophers.
But enough of that, for I’ve been neglecting Tubby. He and I exchanged a bit more banter before it died a death.
Then, on the Monday, I received an e-mail from a complete stranger. It contained a link to the tweet you see below.
The glasnost reference is to a blog produced by the late Dušan ‘Jacques’ Protić, who believed that both Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones were dangerous nationalists . . . because they spoke Welsh! To Protic the Welsh language was the root cause of all Wales’ problems.
Protic was a ranter, and always good for a laugh. I often pictured him, crowned with a battered šajkača, pounding furiously away on his laptop . . . never dreaming he had a fan in Dr Paul Tubb.
Another irritating little git who popped up was a certain Rob Thomas. A twitcher from Cardiff Met. His party piece was referring to me as “anonymous tweeter and conspiracy theorist ‘Jac'”.
In fact, it’s quite amazing – and worrying – how many ‘afforestation’ groups there are out there. And how few of them, if any, are genuinely Welsh.
HOW MANY GROUPS DOES IT TAKE TO PLANT A TREE?
One, very influential outfit, is the Woodland Trust, which seems to be involved in most wood-related scams. An English organisation that followed the time-honoured route of opening a branch within whispering distance of Corruption Bay and giving itself a Welsh name, Coed Cadw.
But it’s simply a flag of convenience, for ‘Coed Cadw’ doesn’t exist for Companies House, or the Charity Commission, or the Financial Conduct Authority.
Another organisation I haven’t yet mentioned, but which has increasing influence over the ‘Welsh Government’, is the World Wildlife Fund. Which has an office and a website but, again, no existence independent of its UK / England HQ.
Then there’s a crew I may have neglected until now, Wales Environment Link (WEL), which sees itself as an umbrella organisation for environmental groups.
Thomas is also a director at the Centre for Alternative Technology.
Another trustee is Natalie Roxanne Buttriss. Who deserves special mention.
Back in October 2018 she appeared in The Welsh Clearances. She was then Wales Director of the Woodland Trust, which was a partner with Rewilding Britain in the Summit to Sea project, a very ambitious land grab that was derailed by colonialist arrogance rousing local resistance.
I reproduce a photo from that post. It says so much. It shows Buttriss presenting a petition to Mike Hedges, Labour AM for Swansea East, I don’t know what post he held then. (Don’t care.)
A petition demanding – what else? – more trees! But it only managed to get a miserable 2,385 signatures. Yet it was still accorded an official presentation and media coverage . . . while petitions with many more signatures are effectively binned.
When the memsahibs shout, the native politics-wallahs come running.
Among the full-time staff at WEN we find Llinos Price, of whom the less said the better. (Put her name into the search box atop the sidebar.) Also, former Labour spad, Liz Smith. Then there’s Rory Francis, who too has worked as a spad, and more recently for Friends of the Earth and Coed Cadw / Woodland Trust.
It really is revolving doors between ‘charities’ and politics, with none of those involved having any experience of business, and a lifetime spent wholly reliant on public funds.
But it’s not just identifiable organisations we should worry about; there are also loners, operating below the radar, who surface for other reasons.
We’ve looked at the one for Radnorshire, but there is also the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, and there was a Brecknock Wildlife Trust until it merged with WTSWW.
Quite remarkable when you think about it. Powys, with less than 5% of Wales’ population, had 60% of the country’s wildlife trusts. And post merger, still has 50%.
How do we explain this? Being so large, and sparsely-populated, Powys obviously attracts the kind of people we’ve encountered in this article. But there may be other factors at work.
A number of those I encountered in my research still live over the border, often just over the border. Wales obviously attracts them because funding is more readily available here.
James Hitchcock, the CEO of Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, with whose tweet this piece began, was formerly Estates Senior Manager at Herefordshire Wildlife Trusts.
Powys is also within reasonable travelling distance of almost any part of England, which makes it convenient for greenwash ‘investors’.
There are other organisations helping to turn Harri Webb’s ‘Green Desert’ into a wooded wildlife paradise; among them, Soros College, Talgarth.
I know the boys and girls at Black Mountains College don’t like me harping on about their George Soros connection . . . so I shall keep doing it!
By accepted yardsticks such as health service delivery, education, infrastructure, standard of living, etc., we Welsh are worse off today than we were in 1999.
Unless they can serve as commuter communities for Cardiff and Newport the towns and villages of the Valleys undergo managed decline; Swansea is fed crumbs; the north east is being merged with north west England; the north coast is becoming the A55 commuter belt for Merseyside, Manchester, and Cheshire; our western coastal areas are no-go areas for our people due to property prices; while the rural heartland is bought up by carbon capture scammers and enviroshysters – with the support of the ‘Welsh Government’.
If it’s not the ‘Welsh Government’ buying up land for the claimed climate emergency then it’s Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Among their recent acquisitions is Ty’n y Mynydd on Ynys Môn.
But what can we expect from an organisation that puts out 1960s peace and love bollocks like: ” . . . reflective walk . . . ‘Children of the Revolution’ . . . thanks and love . . . for what we’d done for Wales”.
What they’d done for Wales!!! They are buying up our country with our money and handing it over to strangers. (And look at the goody bags! We also paid for them.)
Every last one of them should be deported. Along with the others mentioned here. Plus the politicians, the civil servants, the lobbyists, and anyone else linked to the cess-pit that is Corruption Bay.
Let’s have a clean sweep so we can all breathe purer air.
Dominic Driver, who was responsible for that toe-curling tweet, is Head of Land Stewardship at NRW, so he presumably had a hand in the purchase at Ty’n y Mynydd. He taught at Harrow School and lives in the Cotswolds. Neis.
But that’s Wales for you. Or rather, for them.
The writing is on the wall. And the message reads: “R.I.P. Wales, the country that sacrificed itself pandering to strangers ‘saving’ a planet that was never in danger”.
I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. POSTINGS WILL PROBABLY BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
As is so often the case, this week’s post began life with someone sending me a ‘this might interest you’ snippet. Sure enough, it did. Because once I started digging, all sorts of interesting information came to light.
As you’ll see, the CN report gives the name of no individual so, on the assumption that this ‘conservation retreat’ doesn’t run itself, and isn’t run by the beavers, I started my enquiries.
I soon realised that the story had also appeared in English dailies, and they had no hesitation in naming Sharon Girardi as the woman running Blaeneinion. So why would the local rag be so reticent to name her? Local weeklies survive by naming local people doing this and that. That’s why locals buy them.
Next step was to the Land Registry, to see who owns Blaeneinion. And now it gets really interesting. Here’s the LR title document. I suggest you open it in another tab and keep it open.
You’ll see, on the first page, that the property is owned by Endeavour Ltd, a company registered in Gibraltar. And that it was bought for £595,000. At the foot of page 2 we read that Endeavour Ltd bought Blaeneinion on November 13, 2008.
Next stop, Gibraltar.
Companies House in Gib is quite efficient and helpful, and so I had few problems in buying a company profile for Endeavour Ltd. Though, this being Gibraltar, the paperwork doesn’t tell us much. Here it is anyway.
We learn that Endeavour Ltd was set up April 14, 2008. Some 7 months before the purchase of Blaeneinion. Perhaps created specifically for that purpose. Maybe other properties were bought.
Two thousand shares were issued and they’re all held by Gibraltar International Trust Corporation Ltd (GITCO). An old entity, this; Incorporated in November 1968.
You will not be surprised to learn that GITCO appears in the Panama Papers, where it links with other exotic forms of commercial life such as Cathay Transport Ltd of the Bahamas.
But, thanks to Open Corporates, we also find GITCO linked with a new company nearer home.
Why would Gibraltar International Trust Corporation be named as a director for a small-scale property company operating out of the red brick office in Worcestershire of Hayward Wright Accountancy Group? Especially as this new company seems to be the only one in the UK with which GITCO is officially linked.
This sumptuous accommodation seems to be the base for Alistair Graeme Hayward-Wright, director of Friar Street Properties and many other companies. Though the latest accounts filed suggest that Hayward Wright Accountancy Group is a dormant company.
Back to Sharon Girardi. She’s not named on the LR title document as a leasee, so it’s reasonable to assume she’s the owner. As such, she must be Endeavour Ltd of Gibraltar. If not, then she’s fronting for someone.
The Daily Mail report tells us that, ‘She has previously been backed by the Forestry Commission to plant 34,000 native saplings at her Blaeneinion estate’. But the FC doesn’t operate in Wales, that role here is filled by Natural Resources Wales.
From the Mirror article we learn that Sharon Girardi kept the wolf from her door through Airbnb. Though as a rewilder, shouldn’t she have welcomed Mr Wolf?
The more I think about it, the more bizarre this whole story becomes. I can’t help feeling that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
It starts out with someone buying a remote property for £595,000 without need of a mortgage.
But they claim they can’t make ends meet with organic veg so they go in for Airbnb.
Which means that despite claims about conservation and rewilding, what we see at Blaeneinion is to all intents and purposes a tourism business.
How much has Natural Resources Wales or any other agency of the ‘Welsh Government’ paid to Endeavour Ltd or Sharon Girardi?
Assuming Sharon Girardi is Endeavour Ltd of Gibraltar, what is the ‘Welsh Government’s position on funding companies based in tax havens?
Come to that, why did Sharon Girardi feel the need to buy Blaeneinion by this roundabout route?
Though if she’s not the owner, then who is?
What is the connection between Endeavour Ltd and Friar Street Properties Ltd?
Not far from Blaeneinion there is a similar but larger venture, only this time, instead of beavers, it’s Konik horses . . . at the moment. And while beavers were once native to Wales I’m pretty sure our ancestors never saw these critters.
(It seems Wales has no native horses that could have been used.)
As the BBC report tells us: ‘Cambrian Wildwood wants to extend native woodland from 10 to 100 acres across its land using natural projects. It is looking after a 350 acre site which was acquired by Wales Wild Land Foundation (WWLF) on a 125-year lease from the Woodland Trust, which bought the land.’
On page 13 we read: ‘All other native species, including large herbivores, will be present. Some animals requiring cooperation and agreement across a large area of landscape will be longer term considerations: for example, wild boar, moose, bison and red deer.’
There are some pretty hefty beasts named there, with the potential to cause a great deal of damage. Will a bunch of enviro-dreamers, with no experience of domestic livestock let alone wild animals, really be able to restrict them to the 350 acres they manage?
On the same page we read: ‘For the foreseeable future, it is presumed that the large carnivores (bear, wolf and lynx) will not be present on the site, and it is considered beyond the scope of Cambrian Wildwood to promote these species.’
A confusing sentence, that. It starts off by suggesting that large carnivores might be a long-term ambition, with the concluding phrase hinting that it might be achieved by someone other than Cambrian Wildwood.
So which is it? And if these animals are out of the question, why mention them at all?
Bears strolling into Mach’ for a few pints of a Saturday night, and wolves taking down Mrs Evans on her way to the Co-op, should certainly get the old town rocking.
As I’ve said, Cambrian Wildwood is the operating name for the Wales Wild Land Foundation. So let’s turn our attention away from carnivores stalking the denizens of Machynlleth to a form of parasite to be found a-plenty in the nearby hills.
Which meant taking money from Welsh farmers and transferring it to what were euphemistically called ‘other rural activities’. In other words, those who had lobbied against farmers and expected to profit from the diverted funding.
It may have taken a while to start, but the funding is definitely flowing now. As you’ll see from the table above, ‘Welsh Government’ funding for the WWLF rose from nowt in y/e 31.03.2018 to £349,773 in y/e 31.03.2020.
If it keeps increasing at that rate they’ll soon be grazing thoroughbreds at Bwlch Corog!
And what’s the money for? Well, I suppose a cynic might say it’s for ‘looking after’ land that could just as easily look after itself. But nice work if you can get it.
And when ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson, former ‘Welsh Government’ Minister for Environment and Sustainability (2007 – 2011), is your Patron, then the funding from Corruption Bay tends to flow much more freely.
The long-term ambition seems to be to buy the 350 acres currently leased from the Woodland Trust and fit it into something bigger.
This piece from GlobalGiving talks of, ‘7,000 acres of native woodland, heathland and rivers will be restored. Animals like red squirrel, water vole, wild horse, deer and bison will be living in the wildwood.’
Actually, it’s 7,413 acres, or 3,000 hectares. And it seems to be part of the Dyfi Biosphere project. Explained here.
I wonder how much local people know about these plans.
But then, locals aren’t important. What matters is that those drawing up the plans have the ear of politicians and civil servants in Corruption Bay. And that they are united in wanting to replace farmers and other ‘obstructive’ indigenes in order to free up vast tracts of our country.
How many jobs and business opportunities will the Dyfi Biosphere create for Welsh people? Very few, if any. But I guarantee we’ll be paying for it.
In fact, I’m beginning to wonder how much we’ve already paid. Let me explain.
The land in question can be easily identified from various images supplied in assorted locations.
But before moving on, I just want to set out a bit more information and some more thoughts. See what you make of it all.
The first piece of evidence is the maps locating the land in question. Due to the recognisable outline it was easy enough to find the title documents on the Land Registry map search. Which is where it gets interesting.
Because I suppose the first question is – why did the Woodlands Trust buy land on which there were hardly any trees? The only sensible answer must be that they intended to plant trees.
Clearly, the lease was agreed before the purchase was made; and more than likely, it was that agreement that prompted the purchase. But let’s think about this a little more.
The Woodland Trust bought rough upland pasture, heath and bog. Which it immediately leased to the Wales Wild Land Foundation, for an unspecified amount. Though as we are clearly paying the lease we’re entitled to know much it is.
As the annual report for y/e 31.03.2020 tells us, WWLF expects to be getting a lot of money in future from the ‘Welsh Government’. This explains the increased income we saw in the table above.
Which means that . . .
. . . the ‘Welsh Government’ is giving hundreds of thousands of pounds, maybe millions, to the Wales Wild Land Foundation to improve land that belongs to an English organisation, the Woodland Trust. Unless of course, WWLF itself buys Bwlch Corog.
Either way, where is the benefit to Welsh people from throwing vast amounts of public funding at schemes like this? This kind of spending can only be justified on projects owned by and open to the Welsh public. It should not subside hippy fantasies.
‘Welsh Government’ pays one bunch of strangers to lease land from another bunch of strangers and increase the value of that holding, while simultaneously undermining Welsh farmers so as to free up more land for more strangers.
The overall strategy is pretty obvious.
And as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, this all links with that lebensraum venture, the Summit to Sea rewilding project. But the WWLF gang got cold feet when the public pressure mounted against Summit Sea.
I’ve written about this episode of colonialist arrogance more than once. So just type ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box.
Though from thinking about Blaeneinion, Bwlch Corog and other examples it looks as if Summit to Sea may still be going ahead, incrementally, without much fanfare.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT
The ‘progressive’ consensus in Corruption Bay is so wedded to reducing investment, so addicted to greenwash in all its forms, that what we Welsh need no longer figures in their calculations.
It may even be valid to compare Wales under devolution with post-colonial Africa. Where we see newly-independent countries ruled by crooks who encourage foreign exploitation but dress it up as ‘investment’ or some other bullshit term.
Because when you think about it, someone buying a holiday home is ‘investing’ in Wales.
These lies make leaders look good but work against the interests of the people they claim to represent. That seems to be the situation both in Africa and Wales.
Devolution has been a disaster. Not just by the yardsticks of health, wealth and education. But also because we own less of Wales today than we did in 1999.
That’s a sobering thought; and no amount of airy-fairy gestures and ‘look at us!’ virtue signalling can disguise that we are becoming strangers in our own country.
Corruption Bay, including those we elect, is conspiring in this displacement.
Blaeneinion, Bwlch Corog, OPDs, Summit to Sea, etc., etc., tell us the truth about Wales today; who the system really benefits, and where we Welsh fit in.
Bush needs accommodation because he may live in Kent, or he may live somewhere more exotic, where vitamin D deficiency is unlikely to trouble the locals. I suggest this possibility because Bush has been associated with a number of companies registered in locations where a very laid back approach is found to keeping records and obeying the law.
We are now asked to believe that this listed building Bush sold to Hill is to be given new life with ’30 residential units’. You can view the rudimentary plans here. The more I learn about this project the less sure I am that much, if anything, of the old building will be re-used.
I say that for a number of reasons.
First, the building has been treated with contempt by Bush and those he has allowed to use it. In the previous posting I mentioned a character named John Day. The pictures below follow his time at Gwynfryn; when Bush allowed Day to use this piece of Welsh history as a scrapyard.
Just click on an image to enlarge it.
You may recall that in an earlier post I referred to plastic chairs from Butlins. One of the images above corrects my mistake.
Then there was the second fire, in 2013. Philip Bush has been so unlucky with fires.
Over and above these mishaps the general condition of the old pile suggests it may be past saving. For it’s not just general and gradual decay. Sometimes things take a dramatic turn with a fall of masonry.
Again, click on an image to enlarge it.
So for a number of reasons I suspect that whoever’s behind this project – and the jury’s still out on this – will incorporate very little if anything of the old building into the new. No matter what is claimed in the planning application.
‘SEND A MESSAGE TO LONDON’
The name Tyisha might be familiar because it’s the area near Llanelli railway station that’s plagued by petty criminals and drug addicts. Tyisha is now the most deprived ward in the whole county of Carmarthenshire. Here’s a report from WalesOnline.
You’ll read one local complain, “I think the area’s used as a place to put undesirables . . . a lot of landlords in the area don’t know what their residents get up to and don’t care – they just care about the money in their pockets . . . so many of the drug abusers they’re not even from the area – loads of them are coming here from England, why are they all being dumped here?”
(Many of the ‘landlords’ will be housing associations.)
People are being dumped in Tyisha because a number of third sector bodies and other agencies have found a location with the necessary criteria: working class urban area (locals can be ignored), near railway station (‘clients’ can be put on a train from anywhere), cheap property (ideal for HMOs).
Of course, once the rot sets in there begins a spiral of decline that only benefits those causing the problem. What I mean is that property prices fall even further because nobody wants to live in Tyisha. Those locals who have not moved out are now stuck in houses worth less than they were worth five years ago.
Although Plaid Cymru is supposed to run the county council, and has even held the Llanelli seat in Corruption Bay, the town councillors are overwhelmingly Labour. And some of them are of the worst sort.
Though Gary Jones in Llangennech is definitely one of the better ones (he’s even sent me photos of Dennis Coslett’s grave). But I’m afraid he’s let himself down by his involvement with Tyisha.
It pains me to say this, but what I see here is a Labour councillor apparently celebrating the misery brought to an area of his town by his party’s cronies in the third sector and housing associations. It supports the widely-held view that Labour keeps Wales poor in order to blame the Tories and keep getting elected.
What the hell were you thinking, Gary? What is that pose?
Last year it was announced that Tyisha may be in line for cosmetic redevelopment to the tune of over £9m. Which means that Tyisha can look forward to those big flower pots on the streets for the drug addicts and the drunks to use as very public lavatories.
Here’s a suggestion for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. Don’t give public funding to your cronies for them to import problems and then we won’t have to spend yet more Welsh public money to remedy those problems. Capiche?
What a way to run a country!
If we had a functioning media then the properties causing the worst problems would be identified, the relevant information obtained from the council and the Land Registry. And then the owners of those properties, and/or those renting or leasing the properties, would be named and shamed.
And then, rather than capitalising on peoples’ misery, the town’s Labour councillors might pull their fingers out and demand an end to it.
Over the years I’ve written a lot about One Planet Developments. I wish there’d be no need to write anything because I wish the insane TAN 6 legislation had never been passed.
But it was passed and, predictably, it is now being abused. For people soon realised that the OPD route offered a way around the ban on new dwellings in open country. That’s because planning permission is guaranteed if you can satisfy planners the dwelling you want qualifies as an OPD.
We’re at the stage now where a ‘Hobbit house’ that cost a few thousand to knock together with straw bales and bits of spare wood is being offered for sale at £475,000. There is some uncertainty in planning circles as to whether such a structure can be demolished and replaced with a conventional bricks and mortar mansion.
That the seller feels they can ask this price suggests they believe such a transformation can now be wrought.
While on the outskirts of Swansea developers have seen a way to build properties in the green belt – with a few acres of land – by calling them ‘farmlets’. Each of them less than two acres.
Now I learn of yet another innovative approach to OPDs from Swansea, this time a plan to house military veterans. And not just one settlement but “a network of ecovillages”.
I have to confess that when I saw the city of my dreams linked with veterans my heart sank. I immediately thought of this crew, the Democrats and Veterans Party, shown here at one of their shindigs.
The two principals are Christopher John Carree, who lives in Ravenhill, and Ross Edwards of Morriston, who is clearly local. With maybe Carree in the driving seat.
And yet, despite the Swansea connections, the Garrison Farm Facebook page suggests the operation is based in Chester. Though the map is fixed on Brittany!
If we are to have OPDs then I’m sure some would prefer Welsh veterans living on them rather than charlatans from over the border doing well-paid day jobs in England and using the OPD as a weekend retreat.
As I’ve hinted, the worry is that too often the term ‘veterans’ links with far right politics. And heading out into the boondocks of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire has echoes of US militias getting away from the federal government.
Maybe Messrs Carree and Edwards can clear things up.
While I was looking into this report I ran across a site that brings together those looking for land in Wales suitable for OPDs. You might want to follow it. If nothing else, reading it will remind you of the threat posed by One Planet Developments.
‘I DON’T WANT TO GROUSE, BUT . . . ‘
Actually, they’re pheasants, but you get my drift. And they’re to be shot on land around Cwmrhaidr, to the south of Machynlleth.
I suppose I first became aware of the issue when I saw a tweet from beaver lover Iolo Williams. Yet another rich person from England has bought a chunk of Wales and proceeded to do whatever he likes.
Iolo Williams calls for Natural Resources Wales to intervene. Touching. He’d have had more chance of a response if he’d called on the Vladivostok fire department.
This new site for game shooting is marketed as, ‘Dyfi Falls’ by Guns on Pegs. It’s said to be “near the village of Machnylleth (sic), in mid Wales”.
A resistance group was set up on September 30th called Arbed Cwmrhaidr a’r Llyfnant (Save Cwmrhaidr and the Llyfnant). The group explains that its concerns are not limited to the unnecessary killing of birds for sport:
“The release of 40,000 gamebirds, most of which seem to be escaping into neighbouring farms and woodlands (including SSSIs), are already causing massive ecological damage. They eat endangered plants and animals, compete with native wildlife for food, and their excrement creates ammonia pollution capable of destroying the rare species that are special to this place.
The bulldozing of trees and new roads is devastating this landscape, a famous beauty spot since Victorian times.
Who benefits? Not local people. The company (Cambrian Birds) is registered in Shropshire. The owner is in Essex. The gamekeepers have been brought in. The clients pay over £2500 per day, but it will be invisible to the local economy.”
I’m not sure I approve of, “famous beauty spot since Victorian times”. Wasn’t the area beautiful before it was ‘discovered’ by visitors from over the border? We’re in Columbus territory here.
As you’ve read, the land was bought by a man from Essex and has been leased to Cambrian Birds. If the protesters know the identity of the buyer they seem reluctant to make it public. Thankfully, the quibble-free proprietor of this blog has no such qualms.
Here’s the title document. It tells us that the land was bought by Thomas William Speakman for £4.75m, without apparently needing a loan or a mortgage. I’m afraid the Land Registry did not offer a plan of the land via website enquiry.
How did we get to this situation?
Certain agencies, including the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, have been so successful in ‘selling’ Wales that many people now see Wales as the new frontier (or maybe the final frontier); a territory just waiting to be ‘opened up’, peopled only by primitive natives who can be brushed aside.
They will continue to believe this until we, the Welsh people, make them realise they’ve got it wrong. And it has to be us because no one else will do it.
To end on a lighter note. Something that occurred to me as I was writing this piece is that these birds are now running wild on land coveted by the rewilders of Summit to Sea.
What do Monbiot and his chorus of memsahibs have to say about this?
AN UNUSUAL SCAM
A good source has been in touch to tell me of a couple in their sixties, husband and wife, man and woman, male and female, who stayed – briefly – in a cottage he owns. They stayed one night, left early the next day and then tried a bit of blackmail.
Which is why they’re appearing here.
They arrived the Friday before last having booked through holidaycottages.co.uk. Within an hour the woman was on the phone complaining that the television didn’t work, the place was filthy, and she had been vacuum cleaning almost since she’d arrived.
When the guests went out for dinner the cleaner checked the place out – everything was fine, and the hoover hadn’t been used.
Early the next morning my source found a scruffy note pushed through his letter-box with a litany of complaints – but the pair had fled! He soon received an e-mail, which read:
“Following our abortive holiday to the above cottage which we left on 3 October 2020 due to dirty condition, missing/not working equipment, we have contacted holidaycottages.co.uk with photographs of the filthy conditions and await their response.
We have given that company 7 days in which to respond to our refund request and advised them that if they do not respond within that timeframe, we will issue county court proceedings (small claims jurisdiction) against them bringing you in as third party defendants.
While we would like to resolve this matter amicably, we shall have no hesitation in publishing our photographs online and commencing said proceedings in the event you or the holiday cottage agent do not strive to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to this matter.
It would appear, thus far, our communications with the company are going unanswered and, hence, court proceedings look inevitable unless you wish to settle this matter yourselves”.
Then the photographs materialised. I’m using just two to make the point. The one on the left is claimed to be from inside the cottage. The one on the right is actually from inside the cottage. Two completely different window frames.
And yet . . . in both images we see the same yard. Someone has gone to the trouble of Photoshopping the image on the left by imposing the phoney window frame onto a genuine picture of the yard below!
There was an exchange of e-mails which resulted in the complainant giving her bank details and demanding an instant refund for the two weeks she and her silent husband had paid for.
As far as my source and the local police can figure it . . . the woman would have quickly cancelled or claimed back the payment made on her credit card, then demanded a refund from holidaycottages.co.uk, plus a refund – or more – from my source using the threat of putting the doctored photographs online.
This was too well practised to be a one-off. So if Mrs Sandra T—–t of W—— M—–, Suffolk, tries to book a holiday in your property tell her you’re hosting the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference and both bedrooms are taken.
My source made light of it eventually, and had a little laugh in his final e-mail to her. Here’s an extract:
“But then was it worth it, such a tawdry little scam – surely you are now old enough to see how pathetic you are. You made so many mistakes . . . the fingerprints and some lovely CCTV shots of you enjoying P———. A word of advice, the trouser suit is not a good look in a woman of your age – especially from behind”.
The fellow’s a cad!
THE BLM DIVIDEND
Ever since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis the world has gone a little bit crazy. But there’s never been a better time for those who can sniff out Welsh public funding from a long way away. From England, in fact.
You must have noticed that any third sector organisation hoping for Welsh money either gives itself a full-on Welsh name or, at the very least, adds ‘Cymru’ to the name of the local branch of an English organisation.
As for diversity, it will ‘represent’ a tiny percentage of the population. In my experience BAME organisations are usually made up of sub-Saharan Africans and those with origins in India or Pakistan. Others, such as the industrious Chinese, seem to be totally absent. And of course, there are white people – usually women – with Labour Party connections, in order to ease the flow of the lucre.
The help such organisations provide to members of the public is debatable, but they serve their primary function, which is to create well-paid sinecures and regular jollies for a class of people, often ‘woke’ to the point of hysteria, who might be unemployable in the real world.
Diverse Cymru made the news recently with this call for more help for BAME people suffering mental health issues under Covid lockdown restrictions. According to Samira Salter of Diverse Cymru, BAME people have been “forgotten about” during the pandemic.
Which is nonsense. George Floyd was killed on May 2, and BAME people have never experienced such solicitous attention as in the period since his death.
The people who have suffered worst under Covid are poor people. And certainly many BAME people fall into that category. But the great majority of poor people in Wales are white. It’s about poverty, not colour.
And if we’re dealing with the mental health issues around Coronavirus and lockdown, then I guarantee that these problems are worse in rural areas, not the cities and towns where BAME populations are largely found.
So who runs Diversity Cymru? A source has given me some information and after reading it I knew what kind of body we are dealing with.
“Lead director is Ms Eunica Aure who’s an economist from the Philippines and was a government Spad there. After a stint in the Asian banking sector she moved to London to work on land evaluation of estates in Afghanistan and now works for WYG the consultants that management consult on overseas aid.
Mr Benjamin Coates. His full time job is Assistant Director & Head of Performance and Effectiveness at Equality and Human Rights Commission, based in London.
Ms Helen Susannah Dodoo. Her daytime job is Assistant General Manager at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which on her Linkedin profile she has located in New South Wales, Australia. She actually lives in Pontcanna, Cardiff.”
What the hell do these people know about Wales? Who appointed them trustees?
I didn’t believe the bit about New South Wales, so I checked. It’s true.
These people, remember, are the trustees of a ‘Welsh’ third sector body that has received millions and millions of pounds of Welsh public funding.
The website tells us, “Diverse Cymru was created in 2010 through a merger between Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People and Awetu” (Swahili for unity).
Diverse Cymru is either a pantomime horse of an organisation or a clever merger suggesting disabled people and BAME populations have a shared experience of discrimination.
Whatever the answer, how many other BAME bodies are operating in Wales? And how many charities and local government services for the disabled? And how many bodies tackling mental health issues?
With Diverse Cymru we find yet more of the duplication, competition and waste of money that we find wherever we look in the third sector.
(And there was me thinking that Finance Wales exists to build up the Welsh economy, to create jobs.)
Down in the south west, local authorities are coughing up lots of money for Diverse Cymru to deliver services to the disabled which elsewhere, and on the national stage, Diverse Cymru seems to have abandoned.
As the latest accounts tell us, the principle source of funding now is now Direct Payments from the three local authorities of the south west. This explains the office in Carmarthen.
For some reason the funding from Pembrokeshire reduced by more than 50% from 2018 to 2019, while the other two authorities increased their payments. What is the explanation for these variations?
Of course, getting paid for delivering services looks a lot better than just getting hand-outs from the ‘Welsh Government’, and this is reflected in the table below.
But I return to what I said earlier about Diverse Cymru being an absurd hybrid trying to deliver two unrelated services. Not only that, but we have also found a geographic split between the Cardiff-based, BAME arm, and the council-funded services for independent living for the disabled organised from Carmarthen.
And so I can’t help wondering if any of that money raised in the south west is funding what are clearly the true priorities of Diverse Cymru.
LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL
It’s time to catch up with another rascal in the manly form of Tristan Scott Haynes who, last year, bought the old Shire Hall in Llangefni, capital of Ynys Môn.
In that final appearance I reported that the Shire Hall was up for sale. That, I thought, was the end of it, unless another ‘interesting’ character took the stage.
But now I learn that the old monstrosity has been withdrawn from sale.
Not only that, but Haynes is touting for investors. Or rather, he has issued a prospectus that says it’s directed at contractors to fulfil his dream in Llangefni, but as you read the document you soon realise he’s looking for money.
The prospectus is issued by his company Chief Properties Ltd, though it doesn’t say whether it came from the Paris office or the Los Angeles office. In truth, it’s probably from the garage he rents in Bedford.
There is no website for Chief Properties, but I did find a very basic YouTube channel. I suppose it has to be basic because the company has no money and is lumbered with two loans from Together Commercial Finance Ltd, another of the ‘specialist lenders’ that we so often find in Manchester.
Read the prospectus for yourself. (I am indebted to a recipient for sending it to me. He assures me he’s ripped open the sofa and is now going through all his trouser pockets in order to cash in on this unmissable offer.)
As such documents go, it’s badly written. I suppose this would serve as an example, “29th May 2020 Executives of the Anglesey County Council suggests and supports the development of SHIRE HALL to residential use.”
In addition, it’s amateurishly compiled with a number of spelling mistakes. One glaring mistake, due to the large print, is the “Ariel view” provided of the building.
And here’s an example of the gibberish I’m referring to. What the hell is it trying to say? How does the council feel about being associated with this? It reads like a very poor translation.
But it’s not all bad, for the prospectus reminds us of Eryri’s claim to fame: “Snowdonia National Park – otherwise known as the adventure capital of the UK”.
The bastion of Welsh resistance to English aggression now reduced to England’s playground. Makes you proud to be Welsh.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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’.
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.
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.
“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.)
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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?
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:
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:
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.
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:
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 . . .
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?
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.)
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”.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.)
At NAAONB we find office manager Amber Carter. Amber previously worked for Wildlife Trusts Wales and Environment Wales (the forerunner to Natural Resources Wales).
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 .
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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?
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.
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 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.)
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I know I promised a piece on Wales & West Housing, but I’ve put that on the back burner because something has cropped up. And anyway, W&W is not going away. (Unfortunately.) So that will be my next post.
PLAID CYMRU KEEPS ON DIGGING
The previous post on this blog, Plaid Cymru’s new girl, was about Sonia Klein who, just a few months ago, was trying to be the Labour candidate for Ilford South in December’s general election. So she and her husband must have surprised many people with their decision to join Plaid Cymru.
Inevitably, Ms Klein was welcomed into Plaid Cymru by Leanne Wood.
I say, ‘inevitably’, because Ms Klein ticks so many boxes for Plaid Cymru. She is a ‘strong woman’, she is BAME, and she is also a socialist.
Just a few days later it leaked out that Plaid Cymru had re-admitted Sahar Al-Faifi, who had also been welcomed into the Party by Leanne Wood. Ms Al-Faifi ticks the same boxes as Ms Klein.
Now members of the Jewish community have urged Plaid Cymru to rethink its position on Sahar Al-Faifi, but Plaid has responded by adopting the, ‘It was all a long time ago’ defence. Which is not going to work.
Plaid Cymru is in this mess of its own making because despite Adam Price’s victory in the 2018 leadership contest, a contest in which Leanne Wood came a dismal third, it is still Wood’s supporters calling the shots in the party. So keep looking to the skies for more parachutists.
A number of long-time Plaid Cymru members who thought they were the agreed regional candidate for the 2021 election might be in for a nasty shock. Those who aren’t outed as fascist transphobes and closet Trump fans might be displaced by bearded ‘Olga’, formerly of the Bulgarian Workers and Peasants Alliance.
A very strong woman!
BRYN LLYS BACH
I’ve written a few times about the criminal gang who’ve taken over this site at Nebo, near Caernarfon.
Anyone wanting to catch up should go to this post from November, 2018, and the section ‘Rockin’ to the right’. Then, on to this post from January last year and scroll down to the section headed ‘Shane Baker “the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo” and Jonathan Duggan’.
That was followed by this post in July, scroll down to the section ‘Planners’. Next, this post from August, under ‘Gwynedd Planners’. The gang also gets a mention here, in December, in ‘Bryn Llys’. Finally here, last month, also under ‘Bryn Llys’.
Not satisfied with exceeding planning permission to build an ‘extension’ that soon dwarfed the old house (which was then demolished), or with destroying trees and hedgerows, while continually threatening neighbours and trying to steal land, the gang has now gone a step further with arson and wasting police and fire brigade time.
Last Tuesday someone set an old Land Rover afire at Bryn Llys. It is reported that one of the gang, posing as a ‘passer-by’, phoned the fire service. A large machine was sent which could not negotiate the narrow track to Bryn Llys.
Which was the whole point of this act of arson, done in the hope of establishing that the access to Bryn Llys should be widened. Which would allow the crooks there to use large vehicles to bring in machinery and materials so they can move on to their plans for the rest of the site.
(I’m told that the chief fire officer from Caernarfon inspected the site some two years ago and stated that a ‘narrow access vehicle’ would attend any emergency at Bryn Llys. Maybe the word hadn’t been passed down the chain of command.)
The fire re-started on Wednesday and two fire engines and a police car attended.
I have been sent some images which are available below.
Following these incidents a concerned local wrote to Plaid Cymru-controlled Gwynedd County Council, which has been reluctant to get involved throughout this sorry saga.
The council’s response said:
‘Thank you for your emails of the 25 and 26 February 2020 in respect of the above.
I acknowledge your concerns regarding vehicle fires at this site and note that these matters are being dealt with by the Fire Service as well as the Police.
Furthermore, I would advise that the issue of illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales.
From the Council’s perspective, we have taken formal planning enforcement action with the service of enforcement notices for the various breaches of planning control at this site. The Enforcement Notices relate to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, the temporary residential building and the unauthorised engineering works to create a track at the property.
The Council is currently undertaking prosecution proceedings for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, with the trial set for the 10 and 11 March 2020 in the Magistrates’ Courts, Llandudno. Furthermore, we are also considering further possible enforcement action for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the temporary residential building.
With regards to the Enforcement Notice for the unauthorised access track works, an appeal against this notice has recently been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (Welsh Government). There is a prescribed procedure for planning enforcement appeals, which includes public consultation and there will therefore be an opportunity for you and any other interested parties to provide representations as part of this process which will commence shortly.
From the Council’s perspective, I consider that we are taking the appropriate enforcement action in accordance with what the legislation allows us to do in respect of breaches of planning control.’
I’m not sure what to make of this. I suppose it’s reassuring to know that these crooks will be in court in a week or so, but there’s no mention of action for exceeding planning permission with the monstrosity that’s been built, nor for demolishing the old house.
Also reassuring, I suppose, to read that the police are involved regarding the fire, but then we read, ” . . . illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales”.
‘Illegal disposal’, be buggered! This was a calculated act of arson that could have had serious consequences. It certainly resulted in the police and the fire service having to attend – twice! – when I’m sure there were other things they could have been doing.
Baker is said to be related to Duggan, and it was him who got me interested in Bryn Llys by responding to a tweet of mine. When Baker’s not fooling himself about his musical abilities he’s mumbling ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’ in crowd scenes.
Politically, as the Twitter image suggests, Baker’s very much a BritNat, and a Tommy Robinson fan, who may regard Wales as a colony to be exploited by the insular branch of the herrenvolk.
What a trio. The fraudster son of a professional fraudster, a Little Englander, and a property developer with a persecution complex. Though there’s one other gang member worth mentioning.
Andrew Battye owns Bryn Llys, and the land adjoining. Or rather, that’s what it says on the Land Registry title documents I’ve just linked to. And it’s what I used to believe, but I’m no longer so sure.
Refer back to the 2006 conviction of Duggan senior and we see that he owed at least £547,000, gained by fraud. This is the Duggan family business model.
Because if we look at the Companies House records for Battye and Duggan in recent years we see the same pattern. (Available here in pdf format with working links to Companies House entries.)
From what I can see, Duggan and Battye, either acting together or working alone, formed double glazing companies, these companies set up credit accounts with suppliers; goods were received, not paid for, and sold; then the companies folded.
However we got here, this farce has been allowed to run for long enough. Let’s hope the curtain starts coming down in Llandudno magistrates court next week. And then it would be nice to see GogPlod take it beyond planning matters to feel a few collars for fraud, arson, wasting police and fire service time, threatening neighbours, damaging hedgerows, felling mature trees, etc.
Things have got this far due to the inaction over recent years of the local planning department. The planning department that said a teacher couldn’t build a home when she couldn’t afford to buy in Wilmslow-sur-Mer (Abersoch). The planning department that has allowed criminals from England to do whatever they liked at Bryn Llys. That this planning department has moved at all is due to pressure from bullied neighbours demanding action.
‘WOODMAN, SPARE THAT TREE!’
The recent floods have inevitably been attributed to global warming or climate change by most of the mainstream media and all the bien pensants of the left. Being the heretic I am on such matters I dared posit an alternative view.
Which runs thus . . . yes, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past few weeks but might wind turbines be contributing to the serious flooding in places that have previously been less badly affected?
Two areas in particular brought these thoughts to mind, our Valleys and the areas in England close to the River Severn.
Because – and you can call me old-fashioned, or even uninformed – I’m suggesting that we cannot fell millions of trees on our hills, wreck absorbent peat bogs, then, in their place, plonk dozens or hundreds of wind turbines, and not expect more rainwater to run into the rivers below those hills.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, the picture below shows the size of the concrete bowl required by a single wind turbine. These are the pictures you’re not supposed to see. You, Dai Public, are expected to feel a warm, planet-saving glow from seeing gently turning turbines on some distant crest.
And remember! each turbine is linked by an access road, giving a network of such roads on a wind farm. And each turbine has to be connected to the grid, which requires another network, this time of trenches.
So what was once a hillside covered in moss and peat absorbing rainwater, and trees sequestering CO2, has been destroyed to make an industrial site off which the water runs into the valleys below. And this has all been done in the name of the environment, of ‘saving the planet’!
A old mate of mine back home – a known trouble-maker – decided to find out how many trees had been cut to make way for wind turbines, and so he submitted an FoI to Natural Resources Wales. The response was startling. (It can be read in full here.)
Here’s an abstract.
First, bear in mind that NRW can only tell us what trees were felled on land for which it is responsible, the former Forestry Commission estate, which only accounts for 40% of Wales’ woodland. Yet it still comes to over 2.5 million trees felled. Three-quarters of a million of them for the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, owned by Swedish company Vattenfall, which towers over a number of Valleys communities
You’ll see that NRW has nothing to say for Powys, which has seen so much wind farm development in recent years. This is because the woodlands there are privately owned. And yet, the Severn rises on Pumlumon, not far from the Cefn Croes wind farm (owned by an Italian company), and then it runs through Newtown and Welshpool to join the Vyrnwy and cross the border just a bun throw from Elsie’s Vintage Tea Room & Pie Parlour.
And now we hear of yet another major development of 22 turbines planned for Powys, this one by French company EDF, at Garn Fach, between the A470 and the A483. I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘Welsh Government’ handle this one.
And what does the Woodland Trust have to say – will it allow EDF to chop down its trees at Garn Fach? Perhaps Woodland Trust is one of the landowners to benefit if this project goes ahead?
It seems to me that the eco-zealots need to pause, and do some hard thinking.
On the one hand they urge us to plant trees – even proposing to throw Welsh farmers off their land – because this would be good for the environment.
But it’s OK to fell millions of trees in Wales to make way for wind turbines . . . which almost certainly contribute to flooding. Flooding that will then be blamed on global warming/climate change, so the eco-zealots will insist on erecting more wind turbines . . . for which more trees will be felled and more peat bog lost . . . resulting in more flooding . . . .
I may not be 100% right on this, I rarely am, but I will say this with confidence: when it comes to the recent floods, then wind turbines are the elephant in the room.
I’m sure that many of you have been following this case on Ynys Môn. I certainly have. If you’re new to the case, then read this article from Saturday’s Wasting Mule.
There was never any doubt that Terence Whall was guilty and that he was going down for life. The real questions remain:
What was the motive for Terence Whall killing Gerald Corrigan?
What is Whall’s background in East London/Essex and what brought him to Ynys Môn?
What was the true role of Whall’s associates, the locals, in this case?
Is this murder just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as has been suggested to me?
Is this conviction the end of the case as far as North Wales Police is concerned?
If we had a functioning media we could rely on it to chase down the facts, the background to this murder, but we don’t have a media.
If we did, they might wonder why Gerald Corrigan’s children needed to give evidence from behind a screen protecting their identities. The man who killed their father is going down for at least 31 years, so who are they afraid of? Or from whom do the police think they need to be protected?
The last time I remember evidence being given from behind a screen in a Welsh courtroom was in the early 1990s, and then it was MI5 operatives in a trial of Welsh nationalists accused of sending letter bombs.
If anyone wants to send me information relating to this case then they are welcome to do so. I promise not to divulge any source.
END OF FARMING?
Another subject I’ve written about more than once is the plan to gradually remove farmers from the land so that George Monbiot and his friends can take over the Welsh countryside with their ‘rewilding’ projects. (Just type ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box at the top of the sidebar.)
But this respite might be short-lived if recent reports are to be believed.
We always knew that Monbiot and his gang had the backing of the ‘Welsh Government’ which, being Labour, hates country-dwellers in general, and farmers in particular, believing that rural Wales should accept its designated fate as a recreation and retirement area for England.
And in case anyone didn’t get the message, it was soon followed up with this . . .
Yes, I know, the left and the eco-zealots will say, ‘Ah! but it’s the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday’. To which I would respond – Grow up! If the facts hold up it doesn’t matter if the story originated in Völkischer Beobachter or the Plovdiv Marrow Growers Weekly.
The Mail titles are most definitely Conservative-supporting papers, which I suggest adds to their credibility in this instance.
Some of the arguments put forward in support of doing away with farming are quite hilarious. One ‘expert’ cites Singapore, arguing that it is prosperous without a farming sector. But Singapore is a bloody city-state of just 725.7 square kilometres and almost six million people. (Wales is 20,735 square kilometres and 3.2 million people.)
And then we read “Ben Goldsmith, for his part, caused fury among farmers this week by tweeting that ‘overgrazing’ by upland sheep farmers — rather than near-record rainfall — was responsible for the devastating floods suffered in South Wales.”
Read who else is involved and a picture might emerge.
If farming is phased out it will be small farmers, and the family farm, that disappear. Big landowners will thrive, snapping up the farms made unviable by the decisions made by their friends and relatives in the government.
And of course we’ll see more wind turbines and other idiocies cheered on by the eco-zealots – but making fortunes in government subsidies for the very same people who’ll benefit from the destruction of Welsh farming.
Think about it, we have here what at first sight might appear to be two distinct groups – the environmentalists and the Conservative grandees. Surely, they should be on opposite sides? No.
If there’s money to be made then these members of the English upper-middle class, who know each other from school and university, Wimbledon and Henley; who move and marry within the same circles, will stick together.
The external enemies remain the same, and there’s not much we can do but resist them. But we can certainly remove the toadies in Corruption Bay who are so ready to do their masters’ bidding.
Obviously I’ll focus on devolution, so it makes sense to remind ourselves why we have devolution. Younger readers especially should stick with it because they might learn something.
Then I shall move on to consider what we do now that devolution has come to the end of the line.
INNOVATION DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO
Devolution did not come about following a period of political upheaval or unrest, there was no ‘Nation on the March’. Devolution was thrust upon Wales because it served the interests of the Labour Party. Later, even the Conservatives could see benefits in maintaining a management team in Cardiff docks.
Major’s victory was a surprise to most people, including many Conservatives. But none were as shocked as the Labour Party – who can forget Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s triumphalism at the now famous Sheffield rally.
Mr and Mrs Kinnock were compensated for this and other embarrassments, first by being shunted off to Brussels (where he served as Commissioner and she as MEP), and more recently to the House of Lords. But they remain committed to the struggle against privilege and inequality.
Each year of Tory rule made devolution more attractive to the Labour Party’s hierarchy . . . based of course on the assumption that a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly would always have Labour majorities.
The thinking was that devolution would give Labour two redoubts when not in power at Westminster. With many also believing that devolution would defeat the nationalists in both countries. George Robertson, Labour’s Defence Secretary and NATO General Secretary, believed back then that devolution, ‘will kill nationalism stone dead‘.
How wrong he was, certainly about his native Scotland.
The point to remember here is that devolution was introduced by the Labour Party to serve the interests of the Labour Party. What might be best for Scotland and Wales did not enter into Labour’s thinking.
When the Tories came back to power in Westminster in 2010 they were faced with two very different situations in Scotland and Wales.
The SNP had been in government in Scotland since 2007 and any attempt to remove powers from Holyrood, or do away with devolution entirely, could have made a mildly annoying situation a lot more difficult. Whereas in Wales there was a coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru, which meant that Wales was ‘secure’, she could be ignored.
The results that were released a week or so ago covered a wide range of questions. Most attention has focused on two findings; the percentage wanting independence and the percentage wanting to do away with devolution altogether. Here are the full findings.
Though the figure in favour of independence is claimed to reach 27% when don’t knows are omitted and other adjustments made. Applying the same refinements it’s claimed that 33% would vote to abolish the Assembly were they given the chance in a referendum.
As Wrecsam Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper says in this Nation.Cymru piece these figures point to “a polarisation of views amongst Welsh voters”. Which I suppose it does, at first sight. But looking at them from another angle what appear to be polar opposites do in fact agree – they reject devolution.
Due to many factors, including Brexit.
I’ve argued – from the time I voted for Brexit – that a difficult and damaging Brexit, resulting in Scotland leaving the UK and Ireland reuniting, will force on Wales the choice between being trapped in Englandandwales and considering independence.
In fact, that was one of the reasons that I voted for Brexit.
Given the impact events in Scotland could have on Wales I was surprised by the way the question below was framed in the poll.
Surely, it should have tried to establish whether Scotland becoming independent would make Welsh people more likely to support the independence option? So why the obtuse question about positive or negative – are we talking about batteries?
As it’s worded, I would obviously answer ‘very positive’. Whereas a BritNat would answer ‘very negative’. But we would be saying the same thing in that we agree Scottish independence will increase the chances of Welsh independence. But the findings, as they’re displayed, don’t show that.
Why wasn’t the question better worded?
A SYSTEM NOT DESIGNED TO DELIVER NOT DELIVERING
In her article Carrie Harper says that there is a feeling in the north east that ‘Cardiff doesn’t care’. I can tell her that this sentiment is not restricted to her home patch – it’s the same in Swansea, the Valleys, Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire, Powys.
In economic terms devolution has failed every part of Wales but Cardiff.
And yet, we keep electing Assembly Members to represent us who promise the earth, then they go down to Cardiff . . . and perpetuate this Cardiff-centric system. They betray us every time, no matter where we live and no matter which party we vote for.
One reason Cardiff’s done well out of devolution is because it’s used as a ‘showcase’. Visiting dignitaries, politicians, entertainers, rugby and football fans, etc, go no further than Cardiff. They see the investment, the cranes on the skyline and think, ‘Oh! devolution must be working for Wales’.
Using Cardiff as a showcase city, to give a false impression of prosperity and progress, is symptomatic of a more general problem with the ‘Welsh Government’, that of show over substance. At it’s worst, it’s virtue signalling. But it’s not confined to the Labour Party.
Looking at the self-styled ‘progressive’ parties – Labour, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems – I see parties playing to a gallery made up of a tiny minority within Wales and a much bigger audience outside of Wales with which that minority identifies.
What I mean is, giving a vote to the toe-rag doing time for robbing your Nan might get favourable column inches in the Guardian but Dai Public doesn’t support it and it does sod all to improve his life.
The ‘Welsh Government’ has declared a climate emergency. Of course it won’t make any difference on a global scale, not when Japan is planning to build 22 coal-burning power stations, and China many more. It’s not even as if the ‘Welsh Government’ takes its own declaration seriously, because if it did it would organise a functioning system of public transport, and it wouldn’t be funding Aston Martin to come here to make cars with gas-guzzling V12 engines.
But Aston Martin is more likely to go bust than it is to set up in Wales. It will join a long, long list of failed investments, money wasted, by politicians who know nothing about business and are terrified of Wales having a successful indigenous economy because it would lose them votes and give the natives the wrong ideas.
So we are served up empty rhetoric and futile gestures.
Not only do the ‘progressive’ parties ignore the interests of Welsh people but very often they introduce ‘Ooh look at us – aren’t we virtuous’ legislation that actually works against the interests of Wales.
For example, people entering care homes in Wales can keep £50,000 before they have to start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500. This is one reason that Wales sees an influx of retirees and elderly people from England adding to the burden on our NHS. Our ‘progressives’ would like to do away entirely with care home charges.
Money to fund this generosity must come from other budgets; which helps explain why our infrastructure is so poor, why our kids don’t get the education they deserve.
Abolishing care home fees will result in an epidemic of granny dumping, they’ll be queuing at the border. It will be a disaster because the ‘progressives’ will not introduce a residency qualification to stop the system being abused. That would be ‘discriminatory’. (Truth is, they’re terrified of headlines in the Sun and the Daily Mail reading ‘Welsh bastards discriminate against our brave grannies . . . Dunkirk . . . Vera Lynn . . . )
And to expose how damaging devolution is, the Conservatives and the Brexit Party would support this economic insanity because they rely on the Invasion of the Wrinklies(PG) to provide much of their support.
You have to conclude that any administration planning to introduce a tax on a poor people to subsidise richer people moving to their country must hold the electorate of that poor country in utter contempt.
Another reason Wales is poor and badly run is because of the power of the third sector. Here in Wales – uniquely – the third sector has a role in government. The Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which serves as the umbrella body for the third sector, and operates almost as a department of the ‘Welsh Government’, is quite open about its role.
This is why Wales has the biggest third sector on Earth, filled with leeching luvvies pulling down huge salaries to ‘combat’ problems they’ll never solve because it would put them out of a job; and to ensure they have enough ‘clients’ they import many of them from England.
The third sector coupled with Wales’ colonial relationship with England explains why the towns of the north coast have the biggest drugs rehabilitation industry in the known world.
Thanks to organisations such as Cais Ltd, based in Llandudno, which owns a number of properties, and is funded to the tune of £2.9m a year by the Wales European Funding Office . . . then there’s £1.6m from the NHS, £1.7m from local authorities, and a few million from other sources.
‘Rural initiatives’ mean tasteless and culturally damaging tourism developments, zip wires and the like. Or else it’s turfing Welsh farmers off their ancestral land at the behest of George Monbiot and his cohorts with the Summit to Sea scam aka ‘Lebensraum for Guardian readers’.
The ‘Welsh Government’ pushes through housing developments that Wales doesn’t need, funds housing associations many of which prefer not to have Welsh tenants, and does nothing while Welsh communities die when every property that comes up for sale is bought as a holiday or retirement home.
Wales is being turned into a retirement and recreation area for England, a dumping ground for England’s problems, and the pot of gold at rainbow’s end for every crook and shyster looking to make easy money.
But nothing is ever done for the Welsh.
Our politicians are insulated from the system they oversee by hiding away in Cardiff Bay, a world unto itself, hermetically sealed from reality. Where truth is whatever the third sector or the lobbyists decide best serves their interests.
An ugly place where reputations can be destroyed. And men. A cess-pit of corruption and treachery Wales can no longer afford.
AT THE CROSSROADS
There is nothing to be said in favour of devolution. After twenty years it should be obvious to all that it has failed the Welsh nation on every conceivable level. Yes, I talk of a nation; because without it there is no Wales.
Of course the Labour Party is largely to blame, but things would be no better with Plaid Cymru in control. If anything, things would be worse; for not only is Plaid Cymru further to the left than Labour, it has also been infiltrated by ‘woke’ lunatics.
Wales needs new political parties, fresh faces, and a whole new approach to running this country. No more virtue signalling, no more niche politics, no more identity politics, no more pretending that caving in to hedge funds is ‘saving the planet’, and no more ‘influence’ from the third sector.
What I’ve always said about devolution is now the accepted view of a majority of Welsh people, as the poll showed. The only question is which course we take from here. There are only two real options.
As I’ve already said, after Scottish independence and Irish reunification we can either submit to Englandandwales or else we go for independence. Devolution is dead. Nobody killed it, nobody needed to kill it, it destroyed itself.
Few will mourn its passing.
Time to get our people thinking about independence, and to do that we must have political parties grounded in the real world, in Welsh communities, determined to serve those communities and this nation of communities. These new parties must be ready to contest the 2021 Assembly elections.
And the more the merrier. Because with four or five Unionist parties run from London, and Plaid Cymru having such a narrow appeal, independence was impossible to achieve. Let’s broaden the appeal and shift the focus of debate away from London and the UK so that independence becomes the issue in Wales as it is in Scotland.
From now on Welsh politics must be about Wales, and the Welsh people. Let’s offer our people a real choice. No more, ‘What Unionist party should I vote for?’ but instead, ‘Which of the independence parties shall I choose?’
Spread the word! Devolution is dead! It’s time to move on!
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I suppose most people reading this know what a placebo is, but for those who aren’t certain . . . a placebo is something given instead of a medicine or treatment and is intended to fool the person receiving it into believing they are taking a medicine or receiving treatment.
In other words, the patient or guinea pig is given something that won’t really do them any good. Understandably, once they realise they’re being given a placebo then its usefulness is gone.
IN THE BEGINNING
Let’s start by reminding ourselves that devolution wasn’t a gift from Heaven, it was not promised in the Labour manifesto of 1997 because those offering it thought it would be good for Scotland and Wales. No, it was offered because it served England’s (perceived) interests.
Also, let’s not forget the Irish dimension; for to support a fragile peace process there was also an imperative to set up a Northern Ireland Assembly. In fact, this desire formed part of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act (1998). For good measure London was also included in the package to make it look like a sincere attempt to devolve power from Westminster.
In reality, Tony Blair’s Labour government gave devolution to London confident that the Assembly would always have a Labour majority, to the Six Counties because of US pressure, and to Scotland and Wales as a placebo to ‘national aspirations’ which was safeguarded, so it was believed, by an electoral system (certainly in Scotland) that made it difficult for any one party to achieve an absolute majority.
Things are different in Wales for one very obvious reason. While Scotland has a political party and a government determined to improve the country, we have languished for twenty years under successive Labour and Labour-led administrations that have simply masked the old system of neglecting Wales unless she can be exploited.
A very recent and still emerging example would be the National Development Framework (NDF) produced a few months ago by the ‘Welsh Government’. I mention the NDF because it’s a “20-year spatial plan” for the whole country, all other plans are subsidiary to it.
I wrote about the National Development Framework in August, in a post of the same name. In the NDF we read that much of rural Wales outside of the national parks is to be ‘rewilded’, given over to a new ‘national forest’, or else covered in wind turbines and solar complexes.
This of course allows the ‘Welsh Government’ to virtue signal madly that ‘Wales’ is making its contribution to saving the planet. In reality, Wales is being lined up for a coat of Greenwash that will be welcomed by the City and others as a money-making wheeze, while Wales provides even more of England’s electricity.
Of course, we’ve suffered wind turbines for a couple of decades, but what’s interesting in the NDF is that it explores new ways to exploit our uplands. The two articles below, one from the Times and the other from Llais y Sais, will help explain what I mean.
The piece from the Times stresses the carbon-absorbing value of mountains and moorlands while the Western Mail article talks of planting trees on grazing land. Wales of course has plenty of mountains, moorland and grazing land, and if these are to be monetised then we can guarantee that ‘investors’ and others will profit from Welsh land.
All this will be facilitated by the ‘Welsh Government’. Playing the role it adopted with unseemly alacrity when presented with the Summit to Sea scam. For ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers more than perhaps any other sector of the population.
When it hasn’t been punishing rustics for not voting Labour the party has been building up an army of cronies to run the ‘poverty industry’. The third sector capitalises on Welsh deprivation with no intention of bringing relief or remedy because to do so would mean an end to the public funding sustaining thousands of well-paid – but usually unnecessary – jobs.
So we see that ‘Welsh’ Labour is quite happy to serve as London’s management team in Cardiff, and equally content to see Wales decline. Then, even at Assembly elections, Labour can heard bewailing Wales’ deprivation and insisting that voters ‘Send a message to London’.
Though what sending a message to London about the mess Labour has made of Wales is supposed to achieve I’m not sure. Unless it’s a pat on the head for the local Labour bigwigs and the promise of seats in the House of Lords.
PLAID CYMRU AND DEVOLUTION
Anyone looking at Plaid Cymru and thinking they see a party working for Welsh independence really should pop along to the Cloud Cuckoo Land branch of Specsavers.
In truth, the thought of independence terrifies Plaid’s leadership, and others in the upper stratum of the party. For with independence comes responsibility, standing on your own two feet, and delivering measures to improve the lives of the Welsh people – for there’ll be no one else to blame.
What Plaid Cymru wants is the kind of DevoMax system I outlined in Plaid Cymru, where to now? (scroll down when you get there). In a nutshell, institutions in which a native elite of politicians, professionals and administrators can prosper. We are almost there; with a few more powers devolved to the Assembly, such as justice and policing, these desires might be satisfied.
At the moment, Plaid still gets the votes of most of those wanting independence, also those concerned with the Welsh language, nationhood and associated factors. But this constituency is losing faith or simply giving up due to the direction Plaid Cymru is taking.
The hard truth for Plaid Cymru is that no amount of fascist-hunters, or trans lobbyists, or EU zealots, or planet-savers, or any other variety of political exotica will be enough to replace the socially conservative Welsh voters being lost, often alienated by the increasing grip on the party exerted by the aforementioned.
These newer elements promote causes common to a number of political parties and pressure groups, which often means that with Plaid Cymru they’re just hedging their bets. Their interest in Plaid Cymru, and indeed Wales, is often due solely to the attractiveness of a small country with a system of devolution and a malleable political leadership.
For the upcoming general election Plaid Cymru has entered into a disastrous ‘Remainer’ pact with a Liberal Democrat Party led by a woman who loses votes every time she’s exposed to public scrutiny and a Green Party that refuses to even recognise the existence of Wales.
With Labour and the devolution system it brought into existence discredited there is a golden opportunity to take Wales forward to independence.
But it can’t happen because all we have is Plaid Cymru, another leftist party that would rather be the junior partner in a colonial management structure than the party – like the SNP – guiding a nation towards independence.
Or perhaps I’m being unfair on Plaid Cymru, maybe its ambition extends to being the senior partner in a colonial administration. Now there’s ambition for you!
We have reached the stage where Plaid Cymru has nothing to say on Wales and independence; and few people listen to what it has to say on other issues. The party is surviving as a political force on goodwill accumulated in a previous incarnation.
THE PLACEBO NO LONGER WORKS
As the old saying has it: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’
That’s the stage we’re at with devolution and the leftist hegemony in Cardiff Bay. After twenty years of declining standards I believe that a majority of people now realise that devolution isn’t working and that the blame lies in Cardiff not London.
Realising that devolution has failed explains both the increased support for abolishing the Assembly altogether and also why more of us are prepared to consider independence. With correspondingly fewer in the middle willing to defend devolution. For the ‘recognition of nationhood’ and ‘better than nothing’ arguments no longer persuade.
If returned on December 12 it’s possible that the Tories will do away with devolution in the next couple of years, not because they’re ideologically opposed to devolution – they’re not – but because they can also see that the placebo effect is wearing off.
I would probably support the abolition of the Assembly, reasoning that it might be necessary to take a step back before we can move forward. When stuck in a rut it’s often necessary to go back in order to move forward with greater momentum than took you into the rut. And let’s be honest, we walked into devolution with our eyes shut.
And for those now calling me all sorts of names I put out a simple challenge – defend devolution. (And for God’s sake, don’t insult my intelligence by arguing that things would be better with Plaid Cymru in charge.)
I have argued for a few years that Welsh independence is most likely to come about from an interplay between internal dynamics with external factors, with the latter influencing the former. And that is what we now see happening: Devolution is discredited, as are the parties most closely associated with it; while beyond our borders clouds gather, but these are clouds with silver linings, if we only we realise it.
We now need a Conservative government in London to inflict all the damage its opponents predict it will. Then we must help the Scots in their second independence referendum. Finally, we must make a push for our own independence with a broad-based movement focused solely on Wales and Welsh issues.
Which is why I shall be supporting Welsh independence on December 12 by voting for the Conservative and Unionist Party.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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! Perhaps thinking, ‘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.
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.
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.
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?
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.)
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?
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.