CLA Wales is calling on National Grid Transco to consider the implications for some of the best agricultural land in Wales if a new route for the second phase of the Transco pipeline is agreed.
South Wales regional director Jonathan Andrews who is based in Carmarthen said that in order to avoid the Brecon Beacons National Park, some first class farming areas will be considerably disrupted.
He said that the new northern route included SSSI areas along the Rivers Towy, Usk, and Wye, including the Golden Valley, and would affect more than five hundred farmers and landowners. The perception in the farming community was that agricultural interests appeared to be relatively unimportant. There was an important heritage in terms of traditional farming systems which was as precious and worthy of safeguarding as the National Park.
Mr Andrews has asked National Grid Transco to provide a clear statement on the reasoning behind the proposal for a new northern route from Aberdulais to Tirley near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. It is more than twice as long as the original direct southern route running from Aberdulais, north of the Neath Valley and then north of Penderyn and Merthyr, alongside the heads of the Valleys road through the Brecon Beacons National Park to Llanveterine via Brynmawr and Blaenavon.
"It appears that possibly only environmental considerations have been considered so far. The best agricultural land is affected by the new route and it runs for 184 km compared with 77 km for the original southern route.
"Members in these areas are very concerned that the better ground is likely to be substantially affected by these proposals. This is a very big pipe and there certainly will be problems in respect of the restoration of drains and top soil.
"Transco has not produced an engineering report as to what, if any, engineering reasons there are to prevent them going through the National Park. They need to say what they are and place them in the public domain."
"We accept that the National Park is a sensitive area, but so are some of the very best agricultural areas which they have now chosen to cross. We are very concerned about the effect of this route on a very substantial number of landowners and farmers."
"Transo said they had consulted widely but it appears that they have only consulted the Conservation organisations such as the National Park, Countryside Council for Wales and Environmental bodies. Farming and countryside organisations seem to have been presented with a fait accompli."
The programme for construction of the new pipeline has been accelerated because of the North Sea Gas deficit The aim now is to have gas on in the Milford Haven to Aberdulais section by October 2007 and between Felindre and Tirley by October 2008.
Stand Off over Felindre Pipeline