Friday, November 30, 2012

Clocaenog Forest...A hard rains gonna fall

Annual flooding events in North East Wales:brought to you courtesy of the Welsh Assembly,The UK Government, The EU and the energy corporations whose interests they represent.

According to the 'experts' - That nebulous constituency which every newspaper from The Guardian to The Sun like to quote- we can expect extreme weather patterns to increase in the near future.Leading to situations like this week's extensive flooding in north Wales and other parts of the UK.

Much has been made of the increasing tendency of housing developers to build housing projects in areas vulnerable to flooding. One such area which has suffered extensive flooding in recent years is the nearby town of Ruthin with the neighboring city of St Asaph taking the dubious title this week, of the UK's most seriously affected conurbation; with most of the lower town flooded and one person- a 92 year old woman-tragically killed in the event.

The cause of the flooding in North Wales...the catastrophic inundation of low lying areas due to local rivers being overwhelmed by the amount of water pouring down from the uplands.Now...bearing this in mind, how about this for an environmental policy which comes straight from the 'lunatics are running the asylum' school of planning. In this case a policy supported by the UK and Welsh governments under a directive from the EU.

The rain in Spain might fall mainly on the plain but in North Wales it falls mainly on the uplands. The Vale of Clwyd which is at the centre of this week's flooding is contained by the Clwydian range of hills to the east and to the west, an extensive area which includes the Hiraethog uplands. A wild and beautiful area which sadly,because of it's elevation and small population has been chosen for extensive industrial development in the form of huge wind farms.

One central location for a massive wind power plant development is Clocaenog Forest. A vast mostly coniferous forest which since Welsh government reorganization comes under the authorities' control. The forest is to be developed by the global German energy corporation RWE. In a conversation a couple of years ago with the local MP and current Welsh Secretary, David Jones, he revealed to me that up to three quarters of the forest could be clear felled to accommodate the super wind farm planned by the German corporation..

Leaving aside the forest's important role as a wildlife habitat.Not just for common species like Deer, Foxes,Ravens and rodents which live in the forest,but also for rare species like red squirrels, black grouse and undoubtedly-based on anecdotal evidence offered by several locals- the only site in Wales where Pine Martens survive. A fact conveniently ignored by the corporate giant's environmental consultants. Contrary to EU wildlife protection legislation.

And if we can also leave aside the forest's important role as a centre for outdoor activities and recreation. The real crime...and there is no other word to use in this the fast approaching ecological and human catastrophe which will follow in train when the forest is developed as North Wales' largest onshore wind farm.

Any amateur ecologist will tell you that the extensive removal of trees will carry a potentially serious knock on effect on the surrounding environment. Trees bind and contain the soil and vegetation,they also absorb much of the heavy precipitation that falls in these upland areas. Carry out large scale deforestation within a fixed location like Clocaenog Forest and the environmental consequences are only too plain to predict. Clear felling and grubbing up peat based soil beds, laying down dozens of miles of new roads and tracks,installing pylons,substations, burying hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete in the earth etc. This can only seriously limit the capacity of the forest to retain water. Add the grubbing up of surrounding peat based moorland and you have the makings of environmental devastation.

Water tables will be affected, over ground and underground streams will be diverted or blocked altogether. Without tree cover,water run off will be increased with the many small streams and rivulets which run down from Hiraethog to feed the rivers in the Vale of Clwyd, carrying a significantly increased volume of water.

Flooding in the towns and villages can only become an almost annual event in light of the industrialization of Hiraethog and the Clocaenog Forest. Perhaps the Welsh Assembly wants to turn the Vale of Clwyd into a giant lake?

Meanwhile,over in Frankfurt, Munich, New York, Chicago, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the shareholders will be rubbing their hands at the huge-UK subsidized- profits their corporations are making from these developments in rural North Wales. After all; there's not much money to be made in protecting red squirrels,pine martens and roe deer or from protecting the inhabitants of some distant Welsh town or village from the devastation and misery of flooding.

Fortunate for these corporate fat-cats that in the UK our politicians serve capital and not the people. You would think that the Treweryn debacle in the sixties had never happened.


  1. Well done to you for doing the job our national broadcaster shies away from and giving this disgrace a public airing.

  2. A great piece. The lunatics seem to be running the asylum.