Energy firm accused of ‘moving goalposts’
9:00am Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
BETWS community councillors – who believe they should be first in line for community funds arising from the controversial Mynydd y Betws windfarm – have accused windfarm operators Celtic Energy Renewables and Carmarthenshire county council of “moving the goalposts”.
Members expressed alarm over reports that County Hall would decide who exactly benefits from the £2.8m pot.
County councillor Ryan Bartlett said a committee comprising local people would initially decide which grant applicants were successful.
“These will be decided on merit – not on a first come, first served basis,” he added.
“The £2.8m is spread over 25 years with £665,000 coming in the first year and then £86,500 for each subsequent year – the remainder of the money will carry over into the next year, it will not stop.”
Cllr Bartlett confirmed ten Carmarthenshire wards and three in Neath Port Talbot were eligible to apply and revealed – to the surprise of councillors – that there would be “an element of matchfunding” in the scheme.
Cllr June Gunter asked: “How can they justify moving the goalposts?” while council clerk Cerith Griffiths felt they should have been informed sooner, pointing out that windfarm representatives had pulled out of recent meetings.
“The most galling aspect of all this is that what you are telling us now should have been open information nine months ago,” he told Cllr Bartlett.
“We’ve had more information out of Ryan in the past five minutes than we’ve had from the windfarm people over the last nine months,” commented Cllr Cath Smith.
Rob Fellows, a spokesman for Celtic Energy Renewables, maintained all decisions on applications to the community fund would be made to a grant panel made up of local people.
“The requirement formatched funding will ensure that the value of the fund is maximised for the benefit of local people,” he added.