Grid and PINS should respect democratic views of Wales when it comes to pylons, says AM

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth this week asked the First Minister to make sure that those looking at National Grid’s plans for new pylons across Anglesey were aware of the Assembly vote in favour of undergrounding cables.

During this week’s FMQs, the Anglesey AM called on Welsh Government to push as much as possible to ensure that the UK Planning Inspectorate respects the democratic views of the Assembly in favour of undergrounding.

He also said it would be a scandal if money Grid have suggested would go towards a tunnel to carry cables wasn’t spent on a new bridge instead, with the rest being invested in undergrounding.

Speaking in the chamber, Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“The DCO application has been submitted, but the grid, since the beginning of this process, haven’t given an inch in response to the pressure from me, the Member of Parliament, the council or, more importantly, the unanimity of the people of Anglesey that we need to underground these cables.

“And let’s recall that this Chamber favoured undergrounding rather than pylons and voted for that. You said in January that you’d remind the grid of that. So, what was their response? But, more importantly, will you give a commitment to push as much as possible as Welsh Government to ensure that the UK Planning Inspectorate realises that the democratic views of this Parliament have been expressed, and that they must respect that?

“And, with a further suggestion that a tunnel that could put cables under the Menai could cost £300 million, isn’t it clear that it would be a scandal if the money, or part of that money, weren’t spent on a new bridge to carry cables and vehicles, with the rest being invested in undergrounding?”

The First Minister replied that they have told the grid that it’s extremely important to consider a third bridge over the Menai Strait in order to ensure that the cables can go on that bridge and also that grid knows the views of the Assembly and the views of local people. However, Rhun ap Iorwerth said that we need a clear statement to this effect.

Electricity Connection should respect Future Generations Act, says AM

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth yesterday quizzed Welsh Government about the role of the Well-being of Future Generations Act in developing electricity infrastructure in Anglesey.

Rhun said that an underwater or underground connection, rather than new overhead pylons, would safeguard the interest of the people of Ynys Môn now as well as future generations, and that this was what the people of Anglesey are asking for. He pointed out that we have a Future Generations Act in Wales and this connection plan should only happen in accordance with the principles of that Act.

Speaking in the Assembly chamber, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“The National Grid intends to have a new electricity connection across Anglesey with the cost being the main, if not the only, factor in deciding what kind of connection that will be. What they intend to do, therefore, is to go for the cheapest possible option, which is pylons above ground rather than undergrounding, or placing cables underwater, which is what we on Anglesey would want to see.

“Going underwater or underground would safeguard the interests of Ynys Môn now and for future generations, and we do have a Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 here in Wales.

“You’re the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for the implementation of that Act. Are you willing to give a commitment that you will work with me and others such as campaigners against pylons to urge the National Grid, Ofgem and the UK Government, who will ultimately make the decision, to ensure that this connection plan can only happen in accordance with the principles of this important piece of legislation passed in this place.”

In his response, the Cabinet Secretary responsible replied:

“I know of the work that you have done in the context of the island on this issue. We as a Government are working more closely with the local councils on the issues that he has alluded to.

“I was pleased to see a statement from the National Grid…on well-being where they state, in the context of the Act,

‘While these do not specifically place requirements on the National Grid or the development of new transmission lines, National Grid believes that the aims of the Act are important and deserve consideration.’

“So, there is some recognition there by the National Grid of the impact of the Act. The Act is binding as far as the local council is concerned. The Secretary of State will be influenced by it. I hear, of course, what the Member says about under grounding and over grounding and the Welsh Government’s starting position is that under grounding is the preferred option, but there will be discussions that will be needed and the local authority and Welsh Government will be involved in them as we seek to maximise the benefits for the island while mitigating the impacts of these developments.”

Speaking after the exchange in the Senedd, Rhun ap Iorwerth added:

“I will be meeting National Grid in the near future to discuss this matter further with them. Even though the Act is not binding on them, it is important that the principles of the Act are respected.”

National Assembly backs preference for underground cables rather than pylons

The National Assembly for Wales has called on National Grid to favour undergrounding when developing new transmission programmes in Wales, such as the one proposed for Anglesey as a result of a motion tabled by Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth.
During the Plaid Cymru-led debate, Rhun spoke of the opposition on Anglesey to National Grid’s plans to build a new lines of pylons across the island and the preference towards alternative solutions which would have less of a visual impact.

Following the debate, Assembly Members voted unanimously in favour of a preference for underground cables or alternatives to pylons.
Speaking during the debate in the Senedd today, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:
“It is cost which is at the root of the National Grid’s plans on Anglesey.  Pylons are the cheapest option, or at least the short-term cost for the Grid is lower than other options.  But what about the cost of pylons to the people of Anglesey? – on the value of their homes, to businesses, to tourism, not to mention the effect on living standards?
“Rather than putting financial pressure on the people of Anglesey, the cost should be shared between all energy users.  The grid has agreed to do that in other areas of the UK.”
Speaking after the debate, Mr ap Iorwerth added:
“Today we asked the National Assembly for Wales to say that we believe that undergrounding should be the norm here in Wales – in the north Wales connection project, across Anglesey and the mainland, and every other project. 
“I am pleased to have received the backing of the majority of Assembly Members, and of Welsh Government, for a preference for undergrounding. 

“Even though I was disappointed that the Welsh Government tabled an amendment that weakened the original motion somewhat – and that a
north Wales Ukip AM give a passionate speech in favour of pylons! – the message is still a strong one. The Grid must now take into consideration that Wales’ democratic representatives have said that they should stop just looking for the cheapest option.
“Today’s vote will send a clear message to National Grid that more consideration needs to be given to alternatives to pylons, as well as a clear message to the people of Anglesey that the Assembly is behind them on this subject.”

Protect Anglesey’s natural environment from pylons, says AM

Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth this week asked the Environment Secretary about the environmental impact of the National Grid’s plans across Anglesey.

Speaking in the Senedd chamber, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“The Cabinet Secretary will be aware of the decision by National Grid to place cables in a tunnel under the Menai Straits. We hope to see a new bridge constructed to go with the Britannia Bridge. I’m sure that the Cabinet Secretary would agree with me that there would be less environmental impact in placing those cables on that bridge, rather than actually building a bridge and digging a tunnel.

“But if the grid goes for the tunnel option in order to protect the natural environment of the Menai area, particularly the visual environment, isn’t the same thing true on the need to protect the natural environment of Anglesey as a whole, by undergrounding across the whole island?”

Let’s press for fairness – and some joined up thinking!

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM is frustrated that National Grid’s latest plan once again offers little in response to protests at their proposals to erect a new line of overhead pylons across Anglesey.

He also calls for a fresh approach to investigating a means by which an electricity transmission line could actually bring a benefit, which would be to cross the Menai Strait on a new road bridge that Grid could contribute towards.

National Grid’s June issue of Project News offers some concession for the proposed route in the Gaerwen/Llanddaniel Fab area, which will no doubt be welcomed in that area – but for Anglesey as a whole there’s no backing down on a determination to press ahead with an overhead line.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM for Ynys Môn said:
“I’m left frustrated once again by Grid’s reluctance to listen to demand for an alternative. Our original demand for undersea cables has been thrown out by Grid. The other option – undergrounding – is more expensive and causes short-term disruption, but the cost, I believe, is one that should be met in order to protect the interests of Anglesey.

“Grid’s decision to put cables under the Menai Strait is being hailed as a compromise. In reality, they were always planning on doing that, so we shouldn’t be hoodwinked. Why not be more creative, and really push for an option whereby cables could be laid on a new bridge that Grid could contribute towards – I’ve long called for the dualling of the Britannia. With a little joined-up thinking, this could help. I will press the case with the Welsh Government Transport Secretary.”