Electricity stations plan 'too big for the area'

The proposed site
The site near Llandyfaelog covers 12 agricultural fields in total [BBC]

Three large new electricity substations could be built on over 30 acres of farmland in west Wales.

National Grid Electricity Transmission have drawn up initial plans for a 400kV station and two 132kV stations for National Grid customers at the same site, occupying 12 fields.

But one local councillor has claimed that the development near the village of Llandyfaelog in Carmarthenshire is "too big for the area".

National Grid said its new substation is needed to "strengthen the network and connect clean energy in the area".

Substation near Carmarthen
A smaller existing substation near Carmarthen [BBC]

The proposed transmission station at Llandyfaelog will be for National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET).

The two smaller substations will be for Green Gen Cymru, part of Bute Energy, who want to build a number of wind farms in Mid Wales, and the other will be for National Grid Electricity Distribution, which is the local network operator in the region.

In documents provided to Carmarthenshire council, National Grid indicate the total footprint of the site will cover 13.84 hectares, which is equivalent to roughly 34 acres.

BBC Wales understands that the three substations could be built by the end of 2028. All three substations will be subject to individual planning applications, to be determined by Carmarthenshire council.

Rachael Evans, Countryside Alliance
Rachel Evans fears renewable energy projects are leading to the "industrialisation" of rural Wales [BBC]

Rachel Evans, director for Wales, Countryside Alliance, said the development of windfarms and the associated infrastructure was leading to the "industrialisation of rural Wales".

"We're already losing a huge amount of land, thousands of acres under tree planting, and now it seems we're going to lose even more for the purpose of green energy," she said.

"I'm concerned this will have an affect on our food security here in Wales and reduce the number of livestock those farmers will keep.

"I understand the need for the infrastructure, but what I would prefer to see is projects on a smaller scale that won't have such a huge impact on communities like Llandyfaelog."

The scale of the development has caused concern for local councillor Meinir James, who said: "We're talking here about a massive site. National Grid themselves say it will cover 12 agricultural fields, and will also border with 15 others.

"We're talking about 30 acres of land, affecting three farms primarily. It could affect the future of one farm and a young farmer who wants to stay in the area.

"We need clean energy, but I think this development is too big for this area. It's better suited to a post-industrial site."

Landowners declined to speak to BBC Wales, but Ms James said they too were "worried and shocked" by the proposals.

The site is near existing pylons and overhead lines [BBC]

A spokesperson for Green Gen Cymru said their new 132kV substation will connect renewable energy projects at Nant Mithill, Aberedw, Bryn Gilwern and Lan Fawr to the transmission network, "with the potential to connect to other renewable energy projects in the area."

The substation will be located next to the proposed new National Grid substation to "reduce the amount of land required."

A public consultation will launch later this year, and National Grid declined to be interviewed before the start of that consultation.

Tests have already been carried out on the ground conditions at the site near Carmarthen [BBC]

A spokesperson for National Grid said that "siting studies have been carried out and this was identified as the most suitable location” and “the site is near the existing overhead line so it can connect directly to the network reducing the need for new pylons”.

National Grid said it had a "legal obligation to connect projects to the network" and that it was "committed to upgrading Wales' electricity infrastructure".

It anticipates that annual electricity demand in the UK will grow almost 30% by 2035 and over 70% by 2050.

It added it couldn't say how many new substations will be needed across Wales to meet demand.