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Sunday
21  April

No council pension investments in energy firm, says council

 
01/04/2024 @ 11:27

PowysCounty Council’s pensions pot has not been investing in energy producing firm Bute Energy, a finance chief has confirmed.

In recent months concerns have been raised in Powys about the number of energy and infrastructure projects that are being proposed for parts of the county.

A county councillor who has been campaigning against one possible windfarm project by Bute Energy is Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Gary Mitchell.

He asked a question to the council’s chief finance officer to find out whether any money from the council was investing in the firm.

Cllr Gary Mitchell said: “With the rise in energy park applications and grid connections from Bute Energy and their subsidiaries and speculation that Powys’ Pension funds may be invested in them either directly or as part of consolidated funds from groups: would the authority confirm if it has any pensions invested in Bute Energy.”

Cllr Mitchell’s question also covered Bute Energy subsidiary Green GEN Cymru and the “overarching business” of Windward Trading Ltd.

Director of corporate services and the council’s chief finance officer, Jane Thomas said: “We can confirm that the Powys Pension Fund has no investments in Bute Energy, Green GEN Cymru or Windward Trading Ltd.”

In February, the Welsh Government was also asked in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request whether it had any investments in Bute Energy.

The Welsh Government responded and said: “The Welsh Government does not have any investment in Bute Energy, which is an independent, commercial company.”

Earlier this month Cllr Mitchell spoke as the ward member at a Powys County Council Planning meeting objecting to a proposal by Esgair Galed Energy Park Limited, which is the development vehicle for Bute Energy to erect a 120 metre high weather mast at site between the Glaslyn Nature Reserve and Llyn Clywedog.

Information gleaned from the mast could inform the firm whether the condition at the site is conducive for 220 metre high wind turbines.

Residents from Dylife, Staylittle and Llwynygog who live close to the site campaigned against the project and 85 objections were lodged against the weather mast plans.

A majority of Powys councillors on the Planning committee voted against officer recommendations to refuse the weather mast.

Bute Energy has said that it will lodge an appeal with Welsh Government planning inspectors in a bid to overturn the Planning committee’s decision.

At the moment there are 12 energy creation and infrastructure proposals all across Powys that are in various stages of development, and they are classed as Developments of National Significance (DNS).

This means that planning inspectors at PEDW (Planning and Environment Decisions Wales) will look at all the information provided in the DNS application and eventually give advice to a Welsh Government minister/cabinet secretary on what decision to make.

Powys County Council is only a consultee rather than decision-maker in this process.

Of the dozen DNS proposals Bute Energy is behind eight of them.

Bute Energy is also behind the Vyrnwy – Frankton connection proposal to take electricity via pylons from Cefn Coch near Llanfair Caereinion to connect with the grid at Frankton which is between Oswestry and Ellesmere in Shropshire.

In this instance a planning application would need to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for England and would be decided by the UK Government.

 

 

 

 

 

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporting Service