Renewable energy: Community slams 'insulting' hydropower cash pledge

By Rachael Garside
BBC Wales News

image captionThe hydropower scheme is projected to produce enough electricity to power about 3,600 homes

A community claiming they were offered £1,000 a year by a firm building a hydropower project on their doorstep have said the amount is "insulting".

The river Tywi will be used to generate power at the site near Llyn Brianne dam at Ystradffin, Carmarthenshire.

But campaigners say the firm should pay 20 times that much to the community and affected landowners, based on the £1m the project would make annually.

H20 Power Towy Ltd denied offering £1,000 but would not reveal a figure.

It also refused to say how many jobs would be created.

Community councillor Dr Roger Slade said: "No-one in the village is complaining about hydro - the problem here is that they're using a public resource and they expect to get it for nothing.

"There are pockets of real deprivation here and just up the valley there's a company making a million pounds a year.

"Some of that money should come back to the community."

Dr Slade described the £1,000 a year from the firm as an "insulting" offer.

image captionRoger Slade: "Money should come back to the community"

The scheme is projected to produce 1.8 megawatts of electricity - enough to power about 3,600 homes - with a feed-in tariff which should alone account for £600,000 annually.

The electricity will then be sold with a guaranteed price for 20 years, producing an annual income in excess of £1m.

Campaigners say there are other schemes where companies pay 4% of revenue annually to affected landowners and 2% to the local community.

In Ystradffin, this would amount to £20,000 a year, which local people say would be a huge help in supporting various schemes in an area where rural deprivation is an issue.

Emyr Jones, local community council chairman, said: "It seems to happen time and time again in this area.

"We provide all the resources and all the finances go out of the area.

"Any contribution would be a help here - everything is a struggle in this area."

image captionCatrin Davies: "The benefit will not come back to the local community"

Local people insist there is broad support for such schemes and that they see renewable energy as a viable way of producing power in the future.

Resident Catrin Davies said: "I feel glad we're able to contribute something towards this huge problem of climate change and I'm happy for the landowners to benefit but I'm sad that the landscape is being ripped up again and that the benefit will not come back to the local community at all."

In a statement, the company deny claims that they offered a sum of £1,000 to the local community but have not provided an alternative figure.

And they said there was support for the scheme among the local community.

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