CAMPAIGNERS have aired concerns about Carmarthenshire County Council’s involvement in funding Bute Energy.

At a recent public meeting, members of the Carmarthenshire Residents’ Action Group (CRAiG) ‘grilled’ councillors Ann Davies – who is Plaid Cymru’s prospective candidate for the new Carmarthenshire seat in Westminster – and Neil Lewis about the investment the council makes to what they call a ‘controversial’ company.

The meeting was arranged by the Plaid Cymru councillors.

The residents – and the councillors - have been campaigning against Bute Energy’s plans for pylons running through the Towy Valley to connect the Nant Mithil energy park to the National Grid in Carmarthen and there are now plans for a further stretch of pylons between Lampeter and Carmarthen.

When asked for a comment by the South Wales Guardian, Carmarthenshire County Council confirmed that it is one of the organisations that is part of the Wales Pension Partnership under the Dyfed Pension Fund. This partnership has invested a total of £68 million into Bute Energy after independent advice from clean energy asset manager Capital Dynamics and law firms TLT LLP and Burges Salmon LLP. The Wales Pension Partnership is made up of the Welsh councils pension funds including the Dyfed Pension Fund, Clwyd Pension Fund, Cardiff & Vale of Glamorgan Pension Fund, Gwynedd Pension Fund, Rhondda Cynon Taf Pension Fund, Gwent Pension Fund and the City and County of Swansea Pension Fund.

When the initial funding was announced, Councillor Ted Palmer, chairperson of the Wales Pension Partnership Joint Governance Committee, said: “We are at a critical time for society as we attempt to address climate change and the cost-of-living crisis, while creating green, skilled jobs.

“This investment in Bute Energy projects means that our members are contributing to addressing all of these issues while also retaining the wealth from renewable energy in Wales.

“This will deliver ethical investments and will contribute to the wellbeing of future generations in Wales – as well as meeting the Welsh Government targets on local and shared ownership of renewable energy projects.”

CRAiG has called the investment a direct conflict of interest between the council’s need to maximise return on its pension funds and the interests of residents, businesses and council tax payers.

Havard Hughes, spokesperson for CRAiG, said: “The turnout last night of over a hundred residents demonstrates how concerned our community is over Bute Energy’s plans. Tourism business will be devastated as visitors come to Carmarthenshire for the tranquil historic scenery, not to see a chain of pylons down the side of Merlin’s Hill.

“Due to this investment, there is now a direct conflict of interest between the council’s need to maximise the return on its pension funds and the interests of residents, businesses and council tax payers in defeating Bute Energy’s industrialisation plans.”

Cllr Ann Davies said: “The meeting in Llanllawddog was incredibly constructive and the response from the community was emphatically against the proposed pylon route. As someone who’s been at the forefront of the campaign in Dyffryn Tywi I was more than happy to share my experience and put people in touch with similar community groups. The overriding message was one of unity.

“I want to thank Neil, who’s a hard-working councillor for Abergwili, for calling and organising the meeting – his proactive approach is truly to be commended.

“My position, and Plaid Cymru’s position is crystal clear and in line with communities here in Carmarthenshire – these lines should be put underground. I will continue to champion this cause for all of Carmarthenshire’s communities.”