Drive through from the borders into Mid Wales and you notice two things: the signs saying attractions are open, that the tourist season has started, are back on the pavements again.
And next to them – other signs, many hand drawn or painted: what they lack in sign writing skills they gain in directness.
Some will say ‘no pylons’ – others, ‘no electricity hub’
Plans to join a lattice of windfarms across rural Mid Wales up to the National Grid have evoked protests in many communities.
In Abermule, just outsideNewtown, and Cefn Coch, near Llanfair Caereinion, the signs read ‘no hub’ – the massive generator complex planned to harvest the power from the wind turbines will be sited in one or the other location.
In villages like Meifod, one of Mid Wales’ prettiest, protest banners flutter from the church wall: drive on a couple of miles into the Vale of Meifod and you see one of the potential routes the power pylons – connecting the energy from Mid Wales with the rest of Britain – could take.
But look at the deadline the power companies face to improveBritain’s renewable energy output and you understand the scale of their problem too. We’re bound to create 15 % of all our energy needs from renewable sources by 2020 – you don’t need to be an expert mathematician to see that’s just nine years away.
It’s going through a consultation process at the moment: outside of that, the full force of Mid Walian protest is expected to be on display at Welshpool tonight with a meeting so large, they had to use the livestock market – one ofEurope’s biggest – as a venue.
One of the most sparsely populated areas inBritainis expecting to see two thousand people come to voice their opinions.
The livestock chamber’s likely to echo to many arguments: how it will aversely affect the look of the landscape, whether wind power is the best way to source renewable energy. I asked one campaigner whether this was a very large version of the not-in-my-backyard arguments: he said that there are many backyards these proposals affect. But that comes alongside the deadline for the greening ofBritain: it’s a long and complex debate – a very emotive one – expect a few fireworks in Welshpool tonight – and story that will resonate for months and years to come