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Stop funding Bute, Carmarthenshire residents tell County Council

CARMARTHENSHIRE Residents Action Group (CRAiG Sir Gâr) has challenged Carmarthenshire County Council leader Cllr Darren Price to stop funding Bute Energy through the council’s pension fund investment at today’s Cabinet meeting at County Hall. 

Green Gen / Bute Energy is proposing to run at least two pylon chains through Carmarthenshire’s countryside’s decimating the historic landscape of the Tywi Valley and villages and along the A485.  Councillors including Plaid Cymru Council Leader Darren Price have voiced their opposition.  Yet Carmarthenshire is one of seven Welsh local authorities to invest its pension fund in Bute Energy.  In contrast, neighbouring Powys County Council has declined to invest in the controversial firm.

Havard Hughes, local resident and spokesperson for the Carmarthenshire Residents’ Action Group commented: “We’ve challenged the County Council on their funding of Bute Energy because both Cllr Darren Price and Cllr Ann Davies have been vocal in their words about the firm’s pylon schemes.  However it is utterly ludicrous that the Council they run as the Cabinet has not just been slow to act but is actively funding Bute Energy.

“Carmarthenshire County Council holds the key to killing off Bute Energy’s schemes as they are the consenting authority for the sub-stations which will connect them to the national grid.  This is why residents are so concerned about a conflict of interest.  Moreover, we believe that the withdrawal of Carmarthenshire’s investment would have a domino effect on Bute Energy’s funding. 

“Cllr Price and Cllr Davies have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership on this issue by pulling Carmarthenshire’s funds out of Bute Energy.  Instead we have the town hall farce whereby they claim, on the one hand there is nothing they can do; but state that their representative on the pension board, which Carmarthenshire itself runs, will have some “stern words”.  If Carmarthenshire is serious about making Bute Energy listen to residents then they should immediately follow Powys’s lead and disinvest. 

“The elephant in the room is that Powys County Council, which is also affected by Bute Energy, have managed exclude their pension fund investment.  Darren Price and Ann Davies cannot claim ignorance as Carmarthenshire has one of the largest Wind-industrial zones designated in the whole of Wales in the Welsh Government’s Future Wales 2040 plan.  If it was obvious to Powys this would be a problem then why not to Carmarthenshire’s representatives on the fund?

“This investment generates a direct conflict of interest between the interests of the Council in maximising its return and that of residents in minimising harm.  Bute Energy is already arguing that burying cables will be more expensive.  Lower profits might mean happier residents; but it will also mean lower investment returns to Dyfed Pension funds members many of whom are elected to or are employed by Carmarthenshire County Council. 

It is time for Cllr Price and Cllr Ann Davies to end the excuses and take action that Bute Energy will understand.  So far the most decisive action we’ve seen from Plaid Cymru on Bute has been to give Bute Energy’s Public Affairs Adviser a well-paid job for life in the House of Lords.  Residents deserve deeds not empty words form our Plaid Cymru politicians in County Hall.”