‘This land is (y)our land’?

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

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

This post is in the form of an update.

THE GATHERING STORM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No other country entertains anything like this bullshit.

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

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

ÉMINENCE GRISE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So much for devolution!

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

BEST OF FRIENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or possibly Deryn Consulting.

AND, FINALLY . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

 

 

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

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Miscellany 02.03.2020

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

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.

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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.

There had been an outcry to Al-Faifi’s remarks about a number of incidents, including the London Bridge attacks, which led to Plaid Cymru – reluctantly – suspending her last November. But her suspension was brief, and she has been re-admitted and is hoping to stand for the Assembly.

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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

And now we learn that the Planning Inspectorate is involved. A body that almost always works against Welsh interests (hand-in-glove with a complaisant ‘Welsh Government’). Whether it’s demanding new houses in Wrecsam for Cheshire commuters, or overruling Swansea council to allow more HMOs.

Given the record of the Planning Inspectorate in Wales, we can assume that it will side with the English criminals at Bryn Llys.

So who exactly are they?

Ensconced at or near Bryn Llys we find Jonathan James Duggan, Shane Baker and Aaron Hill. Duggan’s father is a ‘professional fraudster’ who was jailed for six years in July, 2006. He’s back in prison after being tracked down on Ynys Môn a while back. Bryn Llys was raided around the same time.

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.

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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.

It’s difficult to know where and how Aaron Hill fits, but he certainly made no effort to fit in with the locals when he lived in Caernarfon. Hill’s a property developer, a species far too prevalent in Wales.

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

So the Powys wind farms must put a great deal of extra water into the Severn. And this almost certainly contributed something to the recent severe flooding downstream in towns such as Ironbridge.

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.

The project has, predictably, been welcomed by Rhys Wyn Jones of  RenewableUK Cymru. (Cos that’s his job!) But this article, quoting local politicians, hints at mounting opposition to the ongoing exploitation of the local landscape.

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.

CROSSBOW MURDER

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.

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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.)

The colonialist arrogance displayed by those involved with the Summit to Sea project generated a very hostile response from farmers and others, which in turn led to funders pulling out.

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.

Now it appears that they have support much higher up the political food chain. This article’s heading says it all: ‘War of the wild: How trendy metropolitan eco-zealots with close ties to Boris Johnson are set on driving out traditional farming and ‘rewilding’ the land’.

And in case anyone didn’t get the message, it was soon followed up with this . . .

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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.”

Ben Goldsmith is the brother of Zac Goldsmith, a big mate of Boris Johnson. Zac Goldsmith is also an environment minister.

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.

♦ end ♦

 

Wales, the unmourned death of devolution

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 this post I’m going to look at the latest YouGov for ITV/Cardiff University poll. There’s a clue to where we’re going in the title of this piece.

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.

To understand the genesis of devolution we need to go back to the Conservative and Unionist Party led by Margaret Thatcher coming to power in May 1979. Under her leadership the party was re-elected in 1983 and again in 1987. Even after she was deposed in November 1990 the party went on to win the 1992 general election led by John Major.

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.

The old socialist tactic of ‘fighting the system from within’. ‘Well, all right!’ Click to enlarge

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 POLL

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.

The figures quoted tend to vary so I’ll go with this WalesOnline piece by Ruth Molaski. And that’s where the figures below come from.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

But now the ‘Welsh Government’ wants to punish us even more by introducing a tax to help fund care for the elderly and disabled . . . many of whom have been attracted to Wales by the £50,000 limit, free prescriptions and other gestures.

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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.

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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.

The Cais entry on the Charity Commission website says under the Documents tab that this company operates in ‘Wales And The Marches’. But the map found under the Operations tab tells the truth.

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Money given to Wales by the EU to raise standards is being used to further lower standards by importing drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and God knows what else from north west England.

The driving principle of devolution seems to be using Wales for the benefit of just about everybody but the Welsh.

That’s why we have wind turbines that don’t turn, and hydro schemes that locals aren’t allowed to know anything about‘Saving the planet, innit’.

‘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!

♦ end ♦

 

Devolution, the placebo that no longer works

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.

LABOUR AND DEVOLUTION

But as we’ve seen, the ‘no majority’ system has failed, and the Scottish National Party has used its majority in the Scottish Parliament to improve standards and conditions in all manner of ways. But what of Wales?

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.

From the National Development Framework. Click to enlarge

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.

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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.

Image courtesy of Sunday Times. Click to enlarge

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.

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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.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 28.10.2019

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

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

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

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

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

SUMMIT TO SEA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRAKES OFF AT THE FERODO SITE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ELLERGREEN HYDRO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

 

Summit to Sea, who’s behind it?

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

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

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

Our guest writes . . .

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

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

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

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Summit to Sea: a guest post by Jon Coles

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

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

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

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

Pumlumon. Click to enlarge

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

‘NO TO REWILDING’

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

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

Machynlleth. Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REWILDING

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

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

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

Oostvaardersplassen. Click to enlarge

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

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

SUMMIT TO SEA ‘NOT ABOUT REWILDING’

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

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

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

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

LACK OF LOCAL ENGAGEMENT

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

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

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

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

Nick Fenwick, FUW. Click to enlarge

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

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

FARMERS ‘MISUNDERSTAND’ PROJECT

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

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

Melanie Newton, Summit to Sea CEO. Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

LOCAL SUPPORT?

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Miscellany 22.08.2019

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

‘COME AND JOIN US, COME AND JOIN US . . . ‘

A rather strange story surfaced recently suggesting that Helen Mary Jones, who replaced Simon Thomas as Plaid Cymru regional Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales last August – after Thomas was convicted of possessing child pornography – may not have been a paid-up party member when the spotlight picked her out.

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The suggestion was made in the satirical magazine Lol, which appears for every National Eisteddfod.

Plaid Cymru’s response was, “Helen was and is a member”. Which is no doubt true, but it avoids answering the question of whether she was a member when she was called up to replace convicted paedophile Simon Thomas.

(If a regional seat becomes vacant during an Assembly term, then the person who was next on the list at the time of the previous election is offered the seat first.)

There was certainly a delay in Helen Mary Jones accepting the job, which she put down to a reluctance to leave her post as deputy director at the (Rhodri) Morgan Academy at Swansea University. (A ‘chair’ in the Welsh national game of musical chairs that involves politics, the third sector and academia.)

This was always a lame excuse, and while lapsed membership seems incredible, Jones did admit that it happened.

Though as you can read for yourself, she attributed the membership lapse to moving house, with this resulting in standing orders with her bank being cancelled. But why would moving house affect standing orders?

No, it looks very much as if Helen Mary Jones let her membership lapse and the delay in her taking up the AM role was due to Plaid Cymru covering up this fact. Which then poses the question: If Helen Mary Jones had let her membership lapse was it because she’d lost faith in Plaid Cymru, had there been a bust-up, or was she thinking of joining the Labour Party?

Anyway, the story gets even curiouser because I am informed that the next candidate on the regional list, Vicky Moller, had also neglected to renew her membership.

Had Jones and Moller both let their membership lapse, and therefore been ineligible to replace Simon Thomas, the fourth name on Plaid’s 2016 slate for Mid and West Wales was Freddie Greaves, scarcely a household name in his own household.

Which makes me wonder what the hell is going on in Plaid Cymru. A party that can’t even hang on to its candidates would appear to be in serious trouble.

ON YER BIKE! . . . OR WHATEVER IT IS

A Pembrokeshire source tells me that the county’s roads will soon see three-wheeled taxi-style vehicles. If I’m vague on the exact terminology it’s because Pembrokeshire County Council seems a little unclear as to what it’s dealing with.

Let’s go back to 2005 when the council authorised the use of an “electric motor assisted pedal Rickshaw” for the Tenby area, the relevant document is image 1 below. And it must be referring to something like what we see in image 2.

But now, the Licensing Officer argues that any three-wheel motor vehicle meets the criteria set out in 2005. Alert readers will have noticed that somewhere along the way the pedals have been lost.

Which opens the door to a Tuk Tuk, shown in image 3; or even a three-wheel motor cycle with a massive engine such as we see in image 4.

Click to enlarge

You know me, I’m always reluctant to criticise officialdom, but I suggest that in this instance, what was approved in 2005, was clearly a pedal cycle-type vehicle with a supplementary electric engine; not a Tuk Tuk, nor a Harley Davidson on three wheels.

Over to you, Licensing Committee. Be guided by the fact that while they may both be Italian, and begin with the letter F, a Fiat is not a Ferrari. And when it comes to three-wheel vehicles the disparity can be even greater.

STOP PRESS: I hear that there may be a re-think going on down Tenby way.

SAINT SULIEN’S CHURCH, SILIAN

Nationalists of a certain vintage will be familiar with this church, just outside Lampeter. For in its graveyard is buried Julian Cayo-Evans of the Free Wales Army.

I was told that the church is up for sale, so I thought I’d better check with the family before putting anything up on this blog. I did, and it’s true.

Commandant Julian Cayo-Evans. Click to enlarge

It seems that the church was jerry-built just over a hundred years ago and is now beyond repair. So the Church in Wales is selling.

There was a hope of turning St Sulien’s into a community centre, but I hear that plan has fallen through due to the dilapidated state of the building and a lack of interest locally.

Obviously, the church itself is of neither architectural merit nor interest to us, but the graveyard should be significant to all who seek Welsh independence. I would therefore urge that a watching brief be kept to ensure that the churchyard remains accessible to those visiting graves.

I give this warning because I know another church that was sold off by the Church in Wales, along with its graveyard, not far from where I’m sitting now. The new owner (the place is a holiday home) makes it difficult for people to visit graves on ‘his’ property.

GAVIN LEE WOODHOUSE, THE EMPIRE COLLAPSES

It’s not in my nature to gloat, but the dramatic downfall of property tycoon and hotelier Gavin Lee Woodhouse has provided a lot of material for journalists, lawyers, receivers and of course – bloggers. Well, me, anyway.

To jog your memory, Woodhouse is the brains behind the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. But he also owns or owned many hotels and other businesses, both in Wales and England.

My most recent offering on the subject was Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the picture darkens, which went up on Bastille Day.

Since when I’ve received more information about Woodhouse, much of it directing me to snippets about hotels of his being put into receivership. Such as this report, about Caer Rhun in the Conwy Valley and the Fourcroft in Tenby.

Though some who’ve got in touch say I’ve overlooked other characters in this saga. Two in particular.

Despite financial and other backing from the ‘Welsh Government’ Gavin Woodhouse still went under! Click to enlarge.

Let’s start with Robin Scott Forster. One contact would have it that, Forster was, ” . . . his business partner that was with him every step of the way and actually gave him the in, into North Wales”. (Or as I might have phrased it, ‘the in into the inns in North Wales’.)

It may be significant that many of the companies Forster was involved with carry the MBI name. Closer inspection shows that Woodhouse and Forster have operated in tandem for a number of these companies, such as MBI Ferndale Ltd and MBI Tingley Mills Ltd. Or else they joined/left on the same day, as happened with MBI Social Care Smithy Bridge Ltd and MBI Hotel Management Ltd.

All of which suggests two men working together. Yet Forster seems to have avoided involvement in Woodhouse’s hotels in Wales, for many of these were solo efforts by Woodhouse.

If Forster belongs to the past then the new boy on the block would appear to be Iain Andrew Shelton. Who has joined many of the Woodhouse companies. Here’s a link to all Shelton’s companies.

It tells us that on 9 July he joined various companies including Caer Rhun Hall Hotel Ltd, Fourcroft Hotel (Tenby) Ltd and Queens Hotel (Llandudno) Ltd.

Next, on 15 July, it was Caer Rhun Hotel Management Ltd, Queens Hotel (Llandudno) Management Ltd, Llansantffraed Court Hotel Ltd, Fishguard Bay Hotel Ltd and assorted other Woodhouse companies.

Finally, on 1 August, Shelton even became a director of three companies bearing the ‘Woodhouse Family’ element in their names.

It seems clear that Shelton got involved when the shit was already heading towards the fan. Now why would he do that? Seeing as he’s from the same area as Woodhouse is he helping out a friend?

I feel sure I’ll be returning to the Woodhouse empire in a little while. For even though the one-time leading man may no longer be treading the boards the play continues.

Anyone with information on Forster or Shelton is welcome to contact me.

LEANNE WOOD, THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

The deposed leader of Plaid Cymru worries that Stop and Search is racist. Why, she wonders, will more young black males be searched “than wealthy, middle class regular cocaine users”.

Shall we tell her, boys and girls? It’s cos Stop and Search is about knives not drugs!!

Click to enlarge

Though maybe she has a point, so let’s broaden the demographic to include elderly white women . . . visiting Inuit . . . Peruvian trade delegations . . . rabbis (Orthodox and Reform) . . . or Salvation Army people – for everyone knows that uniforms mean weapons. Come to that, and to prove their impartiality, why don’t the police search themselves?

Better still, why not have the police searched by young black males?

Or how about this – if there can be a citizen’s arrest, why not a citizen’s search? Now that would be fun!

Bottom line: Starting from a different political direction to Leanne Wood, I also wish things were otherwise. But facts is facts.

Santes Leanne has also called on us to support US leftist thugs Antifa who, apparently, need our solidarity “now more than ever”. Not because of anything planned by the “far-right”, as she alleges, but because the US government is considering declaring Antifa a domestic terrorist organisation.

Here we see another example of any moderate voice opposing the far left automatically becoming ‘far right’ or ‘fascist’.

Click to enlarge

More worrying is that Leanne Wood’s supporters within Plaid Cymru would like to bring Antifa to Wales. The signs are there for all to see, but too many people in Plaid Cymru feign blindness.

In an earlier post I drew attention to a Welsh Antifa sticker in Cardiff, around the same time I picked up on a Plaid Ifanc tweet about Antifa. And someone from Undod was wandering around the Caernarfon rally on July 27 with Antifa stickers, affixing them to the backs of those she decided were ‘fascists’.

(Plaid Ifanc is the party’s youth wing, and Undod is a group refusing to accept independence unless they can organise the purges and decide who gets the one-way ticket to the gulags.)

The image below shows, working clockwise from the top left: the ‘Wxm’ (Wrexham) Antifa sticker in Cardiff – with the dragon facing the wrong way!; the disrespectful use of our patron saint on the Cachupostio FB page; the Antifa stickers girl behind the Undod banner at Caernarfon; the Plaid Ifanc Antifa tweet . . .

While, finally, at bottom left (appropriately), we find the inspiration for it all – Antifa stormtroopers in the USA ready to sally forth and beat the living shit out of anybody who disagrees with their mantra of love, peace and inclusivity.

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I know who the Antifa sticker girl in Caernarfon is and I know her affiliations. Those behind the infantile Facebook page are to be found in Cwmtawe and Neath. One of them, a chubby youth, made the headlines a while back when he became the youngest town councillor in Wales. Despite being members of Plaid Cymru their loyalty is to Leanne Wood not the party.

Following Wood’s humiliation in last year’s leadership contest, rather than accept that they represent a minority view within Plaid Cymru (and are rejected by the population at large), these Leannistas carry on as if they are the voice of the people with a monopoly on the truth. If you can convince yourself of that, then it stands to reason that anyone who questions you must be a fascist.

They claim to be part of the independence movement, but they’ve jumped on this bandwagon for the same reason they were drawn to Plaid Cymru when Leanne Wood was leader – because it offers a platform for them to promote their extreme brand of socialism with its divisive add-ons, all of which should be extraneous to a campaign for Welsh independence.

If Antifa is declared a domestic terrorist organisation in the USA, then these juveniles, and their older mentors, could prove to be a great embarrassment to Plaid Cymru.

This wouldn’t bother me in the least, Plaid would deserve all it got due to being so weak; but the independence movement is too important to be damaged by the stunts of puerile extremists.

As I write this news comes in of another Leanne Wood ‘special’ on Twitter following Donald Trump’s suggestion that many Jews have divided loyalties.

The ‘divided loyalty’ allegation is regularly made by all sorts of people, and is almost inevitable given that many US Jews have dual nationality. But what Trump actually said was that Jews who vote Democrat are disloyal to the USA, and are also disloyal to Israel.

It’s a way of saying that true Americans vote Republican. Whether you like it or not, that’s US politics. The Democrats in the USA, like the Labour Party here, get most of the immigrant and minorities vote.

For the record: Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Jewish. Kushner is a senior adviser at the White House. Trump himself has always been a strong supporter of Israel.

But let’s return to Leanne Wood.

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She’s obviously wrong to call the President “anti-Semitic”, and I’m not sure that what she’s attacking is “Orwellian doublespeak”, or “gaslighting”.

Though she’s entirely predictable in seeking to defend the Labour Party.

‘WELSH’ LABOUR’S WAR ON FARMING

Throughout the twenty years of devolution the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government in Cardiff Bay has, time after time, proved its hostility to Welsh farming and to Welsh farmers.

With measures such as the One Wales: One Planet initiative of 2009, designed to attract a new population into rural Wales. Reinforced in 2013 with the decision to take 15% of Wales’ EU’s Common Agricultural Policy payments away from farmers and transfer it to ‘rural development projects’. In other words, the kind of scams dreamed up by the new population taking over our countryside.

More recently we have seen attempts by George Monbiot and others to take over vast areas of Wales and justify the land grab by arguing that Welsh farmers are damaging the environment, whereas they, with their tree-planting, and their ‘re-wilding’, will give succour to Mother Earth.

In the small print it becomes obvious that Welsh farmers will have to like it or lump it. In fact, it’s been spelled out by a couple of those involved in the purest meme sahib manner.

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. (N.B. ‘of Wales’, not, for Wales.)

And if you need further convincing of the kind of people we’re dealing with, their attitudes and their motivations, then watch this video of Rebecca Wrigley of Rewilding Britain talk about the Summit to Sea project.

Inevitably, the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ has gone along with this Clearance programme, partly because, bizarrely, too many socialists in Wales identify with middle class English people rather than with hard-working Welsh farmers.

This colonised mindset is regrettably not confined to the Labour Party. You only have to press the magic ‘Environment!’ button for some in Plaid Cymru to view our farmers as fascists in wellies – Summon Antifa!

The latest Labour Party assault on Welsh farmers comes in the form of new legislation regarding the use of fertilisers, effective from 1 January 2020. The report below is from the Tivy-Side Advertiser and the image of dead fish clearly feeds into the ‘farming destroys the environment’ narrative.

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Clearly, no one wants to see dead fish, but what the ‘Welsh Government’ is proposing goes way beyond measures needed to avoid spillages. It could be interpreted as part of a wider strategy. Or even a pincer movement.

For on the one hand the ‘Welsh Government’ is promising to reduce funding for farmers, but with this new legislation it makes farming more expensive. This will result in farmers being forced out of business.

Which in turn frees up more Welsh land for recreation and rewilding; taking us ever closer to the ultimate objective of ‘Playground Wales’. England’s playground, of course; with us Welsh marginalised, if not removed entirely.

♦ end ♦

 

National Development Framework

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Figures supplied by ONS. My table. Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will there be any room for farming? Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

 

The myth of temperate forestation as viable sequestrate of carbon dioxide

This is a guest post by Brychan Davies

 

Global warming is a reality, as is global cooling. Throughout geological time, and throughout the history of mankind there is a natural variance in global temperatures. Geological variance is caused by variations in the tilt of the earth, the polarity switching, and continental drift. The variation on the historical timescale is caused by natural variance in oceanic currents, volcanic activity, and natural oscillations and cyclic proliferation of flora and fauna. Global warning, global cooling is not new. It is part of the natural condition of planet Earth.

Greenhouse Effect

The best example of ‘the greenhouse effect’ is on the planet Venus. A thick soup of acidic water vapour and carbon dioxide ‘traps’ the suns energy and global temperatures are scorching, with an average surface temperature of 300c. The opposite effect can be found on Mars, where the atmosphere which is 95% carbon dioxide but so sparse there is little effect on the atmosphere where global temperatures of –60c. Earth is in the ‘Goldilocks zone’, and naturally oscillates about halfway between these extremes. The mix of naturally fluctuating atmospheric carbon dioxide, and water vapour plays a role in the global temperature.

Fossil Fuels

All coal, oil and fossil fuels on earth was once atmospheric carbon dioxide. In fact the main coal deposits on earth are as a result of carbon dioxide sequestration, 300 million years ago, during the ‘carboniferous’ era. This is the carbon dioxide released back into the atmosphere during the current industrial period, and it is claimed to have a dangerous effect on global warming.

Forestation

It is also claimed that if we now plant trees on land currently used for grazing animals we can mitigate this effect. Is it true?

Well, no. The issue of global warming, and the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide was first identified in the early 1990s and proposals to try to manage this on a global scale was in Japan, in 1992, and it became known as the Kyoto Protocol. Coincidentally, Japan is an ideal comparison with the British Islands, both being of a temperate seasonal climate, with a modern industrial heritage, similar moderation of seasons by oceanic currents, and similar natural forests, a mixture of native coniferous forest at elevation and to the north, with a natural forest of deciduous woodland on the main landmass, with natural shrub and grassland at elevation.

Saikai Forest near Nagasaki. Click to enlarge

Japan, both fortunately and unfortunately, has the advantage of having 75 years worth of continuous scientific study of re-forestation. It arose after a nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki towards the end of WWII. It’s a port city very similar in size to Swansea, surrounded by an area of agricultural land on a peninsular, and a backdrop of moderate uplands, and a self-contained river system.

The bomb resulted in all this being taken out of productive use and a programme of forestation initiated, whose purpose at the time was to soak up nuclear contamination. It is the most intensively studied area of temperate reforestation in the world and has been studied for over 75 years. One particular measure being the sequestration of atmospheric carbon to measure ‘dilution’ of nuclear isotopes, but also provides empirical data on the seasonal sequestration of carbon dioxide as well as a net figure by different tree species over the 75 year period.

The key graph is shown below.

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CO2 sequestration

Tonnes per hectare per year.

Nineteen-sixty-eight was an important year. It was when the forest changed from being a carbon sink to a net carbon emitter. It related to the age of the trees and the natural eco-system. Mature trees decay, this is when the action of fungi, and other parasitic flora and fauna which consumes the wood, leaf litter, and soils, emitting carbon dioxide in quantities greater than that being absorbed by the tree through photosynthesis.

Tadaki, Y.; Hachiya, K. Forest Ecosystems and Their Productivity; Ringyo Kagakugijutsu Shinkosho: Tokyo, Japan, 1968. (In Japanese)

Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol committed participants to financing measures to tackle carbon dioxide emissions. The United States blamed the rest of the world, suggesting the issue is in the Amazon, the European Union spent cash on changing agriculture with set-aside schemes, and this has now morphed in the United Kingdom to ‘blame the farmers’. Japan, however, took a more scientific approach and launched satellites to measures their forestation, launched a programme of study to measure carbon sequestration of a forestation programme, and was able to use data previously obtained (1968 tipping point) to give real numbers to the subject.

Estimation of CO2 Sequestration by the Forests in Japan by Discriminating Precise Tree Age Category using Remote Sensing Techniques” – 2015.

The reality is that a newly planted forest does act as an initial carbon sink, but only until the forest reaches maturity. Both show that net gains are negligible after 75 years, although there’s an earlier peak with coniferous forest in comparison to deciduous forest. Gains then become losses. The report is here.

The study concludes with: “The CO2 amount and other important information revealed in this study has provided important data. Do old mature trees sequestrate as much as younger trees? The answer is no when we see the trend of the sequestration as a function of tree age.” Kotaro Iizuka, Ryutaro Tateishi et al.

Wales

So what lessons can we draw on forestation as a method of sequestrating carbon dioxide in Wales? Mass forestation is not the answer. There is flora that does the job – peat bogs. This is where the acidity of the soil does not allow decomposition of vegetation and the result in layer upon layer of peat deposits. To maintain this ground cover, the light grazing of animals is needed, like sheep, to prevent the ingress of trees.

Questions

Why plant forests and remove farmers from the land when doing so has an adverse effect on carbon dioxide sequestration? Why is there an obsession with projects like the ‘Tetrapak Financed Summit to Sea’ project when there is clear scientific evidence that its objective cannot be met by its proposals? If there are short term gains prior to clear felling at sequestration tipping point, why isn’t this a purely commercial proposal? Why use upland grazing land that is already a net carbon sink for projects that scientifically are known to be inferior?

Additional abstract

There is a myth that the large areas of treeless uplands that exist in Wales and the rest of Britain is a ‘man made landscape’ and planting trees in these areas is a form of ‘rewilding’. This is utter nonsense. There is clear scientific evidence that much of upland Britain has been treeless for the last 4000 years, and this is proved by pollen analysis of peat cores. After the last ice age, there were significant natural cyclic oscillations climatic change – dry Boreal, wet Atlantic, dry Sub-boreal, wet Sub-Atlantic. This eradicated almost all upland forestation long before any impact of human activity.

Nant-y-moch from Pumlumon. Click to enlarge

In fact there is ample evidence that forestation in in the 1970s of these areas has caused significant degradation of the diversity of wildlife, the erosion of upland peat deposits, and the net release of sequestrated CO2. There are is currently 589 gigatonnes of carbon in the atmosphere. The current store of carbon in peat deposits is over 600 gigatonnes. Large scale forestation of upland Wales will result in a significant net release of carbon into the atmosphere, and significantly add to global warming.

♦ end ♦

 

Wales 2019: state-subsidised colonisation

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

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You’ll recall that in the post before Easter I reported on ‘Welsh Government’ generosity in Aberteifi. Now another case has been brought to my attention.

This one in Talyllychau, a village not far from Llandeilo, where a gang called Talley Community Amenity Association (TCAA) is lined up for £522,653 from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

You’ll have noticed that in my playful way I just referred to them as a ‘gang’, but they couldn’t really be a gang because one of them is an an ex-copper, who seems to have bought ‘a place in Wales’ and then got a transfer for the final few years of his service.

In fact, many police officers get pre-retirement transfers to Dyfed Powys and North Wales. To which we can add others who get transfers because they can’t cope with the pressure in England’s towns and cities.

And this phenomenon is not confined to the police service, it’s widespread with cross-border employers, Royal Mail would be another example. I wonder how many jobs we Welsh lose due to transferees filling vacancies in scenically attractive parts of the country?

But I digress, let us hie back to Talyllychau.

WHO ARE THEY AND WHAT DO THEY DO?

In the hope of learning more about Talley Community Amenity Association I turned to documents filed with Companies House. The company was Incorporated 18 July 2002 and gives as its business, ‘Support services to forestry’. The TCAA also registered as a charity – number 1097539 – 15 May 2003, where its ‘Activities’ are listed as ‘Management of local woodland’.

Clearly, TCAA is interested in woodland around Talyllychau, partly explained in a piece by one of the company’s original directors, Stephen Upson. This document also makes clear that TCAA existed in some unspecified form before it became a company and a charity, and that it was in discussions with both Forestry Commission Wales and the Welsh Development Agency to acquire local woodland as a community amenity. (This map might help you better understand the area. The village proper is just visible on the far right centre.)

These negotiations probably explain the need to become registered, for in the first ‘Financial statement’, for 2003, we see that the money is rolling in, and there is now £81,733 in the pot, but no mention of whence it came. Though I couldn’t help noticing that these accounts were prepared by ‘Gray & Associates, Accountancy Services, Talley House, Talley’. This is presumably the Sarah Ellen Gray who became a director of the company on 12 September 2005.

Isn’t this cosy!

The balance sheet for year ending 31 July 2004 shows fixed assets of £64,999, explained as ‘Land sold to the Association by WDA repayable 9 May 2029’. Elsewhere on this filing we read of ‘grant funding’ of £112,021, but again, no clue as to the source of this moolah. But don’t worry, because ‘Grant work completed’ amounts to £111,748, leaving just £273 for tea bags, sugar and biccies.

These second ‘accounts’ – and I use that term loosely – give no indication as to who prepared them, who audited them, who the company’s solicitors are, or its bankers. Talley Community Amenity Association seems to be using every loophole in the Companies Act to give out the bare minimum of information.

The newly-acquired asset is further explained by a Welsh Development Agency charge against TCAA for ‘land at Plas farm’. But by the time we reach the 2008 accounts the £65,000 ex-WDA asset has disappeared. Where’d it go?

Well, according to the title document for ‘Land at Plas farm’ the asset passed into the ownership of the ‘National Assembly for Wales’ 28.03.2007. Which throws up a wee conundrum.

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I mean, if the land was returned to the ‘Welsh Government’, or the Notional Assembly, then surely the charge held by the WDA would have been satisfied. Or if the happy band at ‘Talley’ had been paid £65,000 – as the title document suggests – then they would have used that money to pay off the WDA, wouldn’t they?

Yet the charge remains and there is no sign of any income – or little activity of any kind – in the accounts after 2008. The Talley Community Amenity Association has just been ticking over with a few thousand in the bank gaining interest.

Am I missing something in the Plas farm land transfers and sales? Or is something being omitted from the minimalist documents submitted to Companies House?

THE CAVALRY ARRIVES – IT’S BOOTS AND SADDLES!

A recent addition to the ‘Talley belongs to us’ crew is Angela Gail Hastilow, who seems to have arrived in 2012, along with husband Ian, from West Sussex. The Hastilows are saddle-makers. The firm seems to be still based in England, for the website tells us ‘Angie runs the office from Wales’.

I’d like to refer you now to a document filed with Companies House 27 July 2018 telling us that Angela Gail Hastilow replaced Peter Graham Knott as a ‘person with significant control’ (PSC), which usually means the person running the show.

Let me quote Companies House, which words it thus: ‘A person with significant control (PSC) is someone who owns or controls your company. They’re sometimes called ‘beneficial owners’.’

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What is also strange is that this occurred on the same day as Mrs Hastilow became a director. I’m sure there’s no legislation forbidding someone joining a company and becoming the PSC on the same day, but it’s unusual.

The only times I’ve come across it is when someone buys out a company. But Talley Community Amenity Association is not that kind of company; for example, it has no shares to be bought or transferred, so it’s difficult to see how anyone could take it over. Or why it would be allowed.

Yet that’s what Angela Hastilow appears to have done. Not only is she now PSC but the company’s registered office has moved to her house in Talyllychau. And it’s the same with the TCAA charity. Hers is the address and she is the contact for the charity. It appears to be a clean sweep.

This takeover throws up another conundrum. I’ve told you that Hastilow became a director and the person with significant control on 27 July 2018, and yet there is another document filed with Companies House that suggests otherwise.

According to this other form, Hastilow became a/the person with significant control 02 September 2017 . . . before she even became a director!

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Of course, it may be a genuine mistake. But if Angela Hastilow did really take the reins in September 2017 how was this achieved without her having any declared links with TCAA?

This anomaly has been reported to Companies House.

And now Talley Community Amenity Association is lined up for £522,653 of our money; and it also looks as if they’re going to be gifted – or at least given control over – 800 hectares of prime Welsh land. That is, land we own.

Yet who can blame them for this very human acquisitiveness, for Talyllychau is an idyllic location. Its has lakes, a ruined abbey, and is reasonably close to the M4; all features that make it very attractive to well-heeled English folk.

And the area around Talyllychau has great tourism potential.

Despite all the talk of ‘biodiversity’ and ‘community benefits’ it is being suggested to me that more mercenary motives may be at work. So before money or land is given to Talley Community Amenity Association certain things need to be established:

  • Why are the TCAA accounts so rudimentary and uninformative?
  • Where did the £81,733 come from that appears in the 2003 accounts?
  • What is the source of the ‘grant funding’ of £112,021 shown in the 2004 accounts?
  • For what was this grant funding given and was its spending monitored?
  • If the TCAA was paid £65,000 in 2007 for the Plas farm land why didn’t it use that money to clear the WDA debt?
  • And if TCAA was paid £65,000 then what happened to the money?
  • If the TCAA was not paid £65,000 then by what route did the ‘National Assembly for Wales’ gain the land?
  • How was it possible for Mrs Angela Gail Hastilow to become the ‘person with significant control’ of TCAA before she’d even become a director?
  • Does Mrs Angela Gail Hastilow now control TCAA?
  • If so, how did this come about?
  • What are the terms under which the 800 hectares mentioned in the newspaper report will be made available to TCAA?
  • Will the 800 hectares remain in public ownership if this project goes ahead?
  • Will the directors and trustees of TCAA be allowed to use the land to further their own business interests?
  • If this project proceeds will the ‘Welsh Government’ require TCAA to produce full and independently audited annual accounts available for public scrutiny?
  • How representative of the wider community is TCAA?
  • Why is there so little Welsh involvement in TCAA?

BOTTOM LINE: Why is the ‘Welsh Government’ paying wealthy outsiders to take over publicly-owned Welsh land that they will almost certainly use to make money for themselves?

PART OF A PATTERN

Returning to the article that appeared last week in the South Wales Guardian we read that the scheme delivering the loot and the land is ‘the Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS)’, administered by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme’.

Alun Davies reading his lines, click to enlarge

This scheme can be traced back to 2013 when then Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, acting under orders from ‘his’ civil servants, transferred 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding from Pillar 1 (farmers) to Pillar 2 (‘rural development projects’).

Despite the order coming from London, via its Wales-based civil servants, ‘Welsh’ Labour enthusiastically endorsed this diktat and justified the decision by waffling about ‘biodiversity’, ‘sustainability’, ‘parsnip trees’, etc.

For the bruvvers had already been moving in that direction by becoming the first administration on Earth to surrender to a rabble of hippies by implementing the One Planet legislation in 2011. Since when things have snowballed.

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Next came the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 with a Future Generations Commissar. And as I mentioned at the top, before Easter I reported on the ‘Welsh Government’ ‘selling’ five acres of good land on the outskirts of Aberteifi for just £1 to yet another a bunch of ‘Gimme! Gimme!’ Greens.

Though I’m pleased to report that resistance to this invasion is growing. People are angry that the planning regulations they must abide by can be flouted with impunity by people they are funding!

Resistance encouraged by those with designs on our country over-reaching themselves with their Summit to Sea extravaganza, a vast project that has George Monbiot and his playmates hoping to take over 10,000 hectares of land (and even more of sea!)

The Rewilding Britain website tells us that its partner in Summit to Sea is the Woodland Trust. To understand the quintessentially colonialist nature of this project listen to Natalie Buttriss, the Woodland Trust’s Director of Wales, speaking about the project on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’ programme.

Or watch Rebecca Wrigley, Director of Rewilding Britain.

The attitude of these latter-day memsahibs is clear – ‘If the locals don’t like our plans then they can jolly well fuck off’. (From their own country.)

The truth must be faced that we have reached a stage where things done in the name of ‘Wales’ that are antithetical to the interests of the Welsh. Which in turn reveals, among other things, that devolution is nothing more than a confidence trick that allows our masters to filter their colonialist ambitions through their local management team.

This ‘Welsh Government’ is only too willing to comply because ‘Welsh’ Labour hates country people, and especially indigenous country people; with hairy-arsed, Welsh-speaking rustics being the favoured targets down at the Lord Tonypandy Memorial Firing Range. (Garters optional.)

And because it’s a party of very woke and posturing planet-savers Plaid Cymru will support Monbiot and his memsahibs against Welsh farmers and the interest of the nation.

Everywhere we look we see Welsh people being elbowed out of attractive localities like Talyllychau. And as locals are squeezed out they are replaced by white flighters and good-lifers, grant grabbers, retirees and the human detritus of urban England. (This last category brought in by our housing associations.)

With these incomers funded with hundreds of millions of pounds that for some reason was never available for locals.

As we approach the third decade of the twenty-first century there’s a welcome in the hillsides for just about anybody . . . except us. Last year I reminded you of the term coined by Martiniquais poet and political activist Aimé Césaire to describe this phenomenon, it was ‘genocide by substitution’.

This is exactly what we see happening in Wales today – a deliberate and systematic strategy of replacing one people with another. A bloodless form of ethnic cleansing.

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Devolution has failed; Wales either moves forward or we get taken back

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 am a nationalist; all my life I have wanted my country, Wales, and my people, the Welsh, to be independent of Britain/England.

I want independence now more than ever.

THE CASE FOR THE ASSEMBLY

Let me start this section by admitting that this piece was prompted by something I read in yesterday’s Wasting Mule. (See below.)

The thought of those buffoons down Cardiff docks having a self-congratulatory bash  for twenty years of devolution is insulting to every one of us outside of the tiny minority that has benefited from devolution.

The picture shows people celebrating the referendum result in September 1997. I guarantee there will be no such celebrations for the Assembly’s 20th birthday – no matter how much free booze is laid on. Click to enlarge

Even so, let us try to be positive and look on the bright side, let’s try to remember the good things that twenty years of devolution have delivered.

Well, there’s . . . um . . . and then there’s, er . . . and we mustn’t forget, uh, you know . . .

Truth is that in concrete and positive terms – beyond free prescriptions and other gimmicks – there really is nothing. For unless you’re Stan ‘the pies’ Thomas or some other ‘developer’, a third sector parasite who smelled easy money and slithered over the border, or you’re one the shysters with their snout in the grants trough, there really is nothing to celebrate about two decades of devolution.

Away from the banal and the everyday we are told by otherwise intelligent people that devolution is a wonderful thing because Wales is taken more seriously as a country because we have an Assembly. We are now in the realm of the symbolic.

Don’t get me wrong, in my younger days I was a great one for the symbolism myself. It’s why I tried to saw the head off a statue in Aberystwyth prior to the Investiture in 1969. For what could be more symbolic than beheading the statue of a soi-disant ‘Prince of Wales’ to remind our people of the beheading of a true Prince of Wales in 1282?

But symbolism can only take you so far. It don’t put food on the table. So I reject the ‘more of a country’ argument. To those who truly care, Wales has always been a country, with or without devolution.

And if symbolism is the best that defenders of devolution can come up with, then in reality there’s little to be said in favour of the Assembly, and nothing to celebrate.

THE CASE AGAINST THE ASSEMBLY

It is proven by countless surveys and studies that Wales is worse off today than she was in 1999 when the First Assembly sat. Whether it’s the economy we look at, or education, the health service, or any other field, Wales has gone backwards over the past twenty years.

That would be bad enough, but because of devolution, and the absurd symbolism attached to the Assembly, devolution has facilitated damage that would have been difficult if not impossible to inflict directly from London.

What am I taking about? Let’s consider a few examples.

I’ve mentioned the third sector, so let me explain what I mean. I’m talking now of the influx we’ve seen of third sector ‘professionals’ to set up or grow organisations that supplement or replace local and/or central government agencies. This influx has been so great that we now have a much bigger third sector pro rata than either England or Scotland.

And because the driving imperative is securing careers and salaries rather than public service devolution has created a vast superstructure of publicly funded bodies competing with each other and duplicating each other’s work. For as I was informed in the answer to a Freedom of Information request submitted to the ‘Welsh Government’ we have no less than 48 organisations combating homelessness.

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Each and every one of those organisations has a vested interest in NOT solving the problem of homelessness because to do so would mean a loss of funding resulting in many people losing their cushy jobs.

What applies to homelessness can be extended to every other segment of the third sector – duplication, competition, waste of public funding and a financial disincentive to achieving the espoused goal.

Why does this insane system persist? Because a bloated third sector provides benefits for ‘Welsh’ Labour:

  1. ‘Welsh’ Labour can blame the need for such extravagance on the Tories.
  2. A vast third sector needed to combat Tory callousness allows ‘Welsh’ Labour to present itself as ‘caring’.
  3. The third sector provides countless opportunities for ‘Welsh’ Labour to practice the cronyism for which it is rightly famed.
  4. ‘Welsh’ Labour uses the third sector as an auxiliary organisation to the party proper and even as a means to extend the influence of the party in areas of the country where it has little electoral support.

This third sector is a creation of devolution, and would be retained, or even expanded, if Plaid Cymru was in coalition with Labour or replaced Labour.

Now let’s consider ways in which Wales is damaged that would have been far more difficult to achieve were it not for devolution.

Not so long ago I wrote about the despoliation of Powys by wind turbines. Specifically, the Hendy site where, under pressure from her London masters, the wretched Leslie Griffiths over-ruled the planning inspector’s decision and allowed the development to proceed.

Let’s say we had no devolution, and someone in London had said; ‘Now look, you Welsh chappies, we intend desecrating some place called Llan-thingey so that some of our hedge fund chums can capitalise on the generous subsidies’. I suggest there would have been a hostile reaction.

But run it through the ‘Welsh Government’ filter, throw in a load of bollocks about saving the planet, and the only objectors can be dismissed as a bunch of ‘nimbys’.

Staying with environmental bollocks, the ‘Welsh Government’ has signed up to the One Planet scam, which in Wales means encouraging an influx of hippies to take over land and ignore planning and other regulations because it’s good for the environment, innit.

The justification given is that Wales must reduce her carbon footprint . . . so we are expected to believe that this can be achieved by encouraging people into Wales, letting them take over unused land, working that land, driving their vehicles around the countryside, and filling the air with smoke from their wood-burning stoves, their joss sticks, and whatever they’re smoking.

Let the full idiocy of that premiss sink in for a minute.

Emboldened by previous successes these well-to-do enviro-shysters are no longer satisfied with hobbit houses and pig shit, they have now set their eyes on vast swathes of our country – and again, the ‘Welsh Government’ is helping, as we see with the Summit to Sea project, the first of many.

The area claimed by Summit to Sea runs along the coast from Aberdyfi to Aberystwyth then inland, following the A44 up to Llangurig (deviating south to Cwmystwth) and then on to Llanidloes, after which it’s the minor road up to Llanbrynmair, and Glantwymyn, before heading down the Dyfi valley to Aberdyfi. The area of sea claimed begins well north of Aberdyfi near Llanfendigaid. Click to enlarge.

Again I ask you to imagine a spokesperson for the London government announce, ‘We shall clear Welsh farmers and other indigenes from the land so that thousands of acres can be taken over by Mr Monbiot and his friends for their rewilding projects’.

There would have been a national outcry . . . but get the ‘Welsh Government’ to promote this clearance and colonisation programme and it confuses the issue, and makes it much easier to push it through.

What I’m describing here is what I’ve dubbed ‘The Godfather Syndrome’. You’ll recall that in that movie the Mafia had a profitable relationship with the Batista regime. Hardly surprising seeing as US corporations controlled the economic life of Cuba and despite being nominally independent the island was almost a colony of the USA.

Something similar is happening in Wales, with the beneficiaries speaking Estuary English rather than Brooklynese. Some may think I’m going too far with this analogy but the facilitating principle is the same – weak leadership here and a colonial relationship with their home country allows such groups and individuals to benefit from our country, at our expense.

Small countries and ex-colonies being run by remote control is a global phenomenon. For example, the ‘stans’ of Central Asia are of course independent – but still take orders from the Kremlin. The former French colonies in West Africa remain under a loose form of French control and the old colonial power regularly sends in the Legion to safeguard its interests.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that George Monbiot is to be compared with Michael Corleone, Vladimir Putin or the President of France but the truth persists that well-organised lobbies and groups such as those to which Monbiot belongs have looked at Wales and said, ‘Mmm, here is a small country, with a devolved legislature and an Assembly stuffed with third-rate politicians that we can bend to our will’.

And because Monbiot and his ilk have establishment connections they are aided by the fact that so much of our national life is controlled by civil servants that ostensibly serve the ‘Welsh Government’ but in reality answer to London.

But it’s not just Monbiot and his environmentalist friends, there’a whole galaxy of interests able to take advantage of ‘The Godfather Syndrome’ in ways that would be impossible without the chimera of devolution and a ‘Welsh’ Assembly acting as a ‘screen’ for what is – as in pre-Castro Cuba – thinly-disguised colonialism.

Finally, there’s the naked corruption. Cardiff Bay is a cess-pit where politicians and civil servants can be ‘influenced’, to the extent that the ‘Welsh Government’ is unique on this island in refusing to introduce a register of lobbyists . . . at the insistence of the lobbyists!

WHERE DO WE GO NEXT?

You must understand that devolution was never supposed to work for Wales. We were offered devolution, in a package with Scotland, because there were some in the Labour Party that agreed with George Robertson, who thought that devolution would “kill the SNP stone dead”.

Obviously he was wrong about the SNP, but in Wales devolution has worked perfectly because ‘the threat of nationalism’ has been represented by Plaid Cymru. After the initial shock of the first Assembly elections in 1999 Plaid obligingly removed Dafydd Wigley and then went on to bury its head up its arse by becoming obsessed with niche issues.

This is why those who argue that devolution is a ‘stepping-stone’ to independence are wrong. As are those who believe that devolution could work if we only ‘got rid of Labour’.

What devolution has achieved – and what it was designed to achieve – is to create a class of politicians, apparatchiki, third sector operatives and others, who either rely on devolution for their pay cheques or else enjoy having status and prestige without the responsibility that would come with independence.

And for as long as it toes the London line this colonial management class will be defended and supported by its Whitehall masters, for it disguises what is not merely continuing control from London but increased control.

Which leaves Wales stuck in a situation where not only is devolution not delivering for Wales, it is actually making things worse than they would be without devolution.

Which, for me, means the choice has to be moving forward or going back. And I want to move forward, to independence. But one of the biggest, and most bizarre, obstacles is that many of those claiming to want independence rush to the defence of devolution!

Make up your bloody mind – you can’t have both!

Image Jane Barlow PA/AP/File reproduced courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor. Click to enlarge.

The UK is already tearing itself apart over Brexit and this leads to an increasing likelihood of Scottish independence and Irish reunification, and then there’s the rise of the far right in England, all of which mean there has never been a better time to push for independence.

Devolution is thoroughly discredited, so anyone defending devolution is lining up with the colonial management class and their London masters.

We must be bold and push for independence, because defending the indefensible leaves the field open for those who will capitalise on devolution’s manifest failure to take us in the opposite direction and, ultimately, assimilation.

But being asked to ‘celebrate’ twenty years of devolution takes me back to 1969 and the Investiture, when we were asked to commemorate 700 years of subjugation. Now where did I put those hacksaws . . .

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