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Welsh First Minister backs weekly’s pylon battle

A newspaper’s tireless campaign against proposals to build electricity pylons in Mid-Wales has received the backing of the Welsh Government.

Staff at the Powys County Times were so opposed to plans for a 20-acre electricity substation in rural Montgomeryshire  that they organised a 100 mile protest march from Welshpool to Cardiff, led by chief reporter Richard Jones.

In the latest stage of its battle, the paper carried a front page headline calling on Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones to act over calls to review the plans.

Now Mr Jones has released a statement to the newspaper making clear he will not support the proposal, which involved erecting large electricity pylons across an area of rural Mid Wales.

Powys County Times Nick Knight, said: “I don’t think anybody could say that local newspaper campaigns are ignored following our First Minister’s response this week.

“Feelings are running so high in this normally quiet part of Wales that we felt merely reporting on it was not enough. We had to be part of it all.

“As editor of the paper it was one of the proudest moments in my time on newspapers to see the cheer Richard and the walkers got as they arrived and then the huge cheer the thousands of people gave the County Times as I handed over a book filled with comments from our readers.

“We live and work in our patch, care passionately about our area and are proud to have taken one of the leading roles in this campaign.”

Last week the newspaper ran a front page headline “Time for Action Carwyn,” calling on the First Minister to make some response to the largest protest the Welsh Assembly has ever seen.

Nick added: “Weeks after the protest on the steps of the Welsh Government offices in Cardiff he has responded and the prospects are looking good that we can stop this industrialisation of our beautiful part of the world.”

Responding to the newspaper’s plea to speak out the Welsh First Minister said that the Welsh Government would not support the construction of large pylons in Mid Wales and ministers were pressing the case with National Grid Transmission and Ofgem.

It believes the level of development, which would include 47 metre high steel pylons and would be the size of 13 football pitches, is unacceptable in view of its wider impacts on the local area.