Gilestone Farm Stakeholder Meeting of the 17th March
Powys County Council wished to note that two neighbouring Powys County Councillors and one neighbouring Community Council had requested to attend however attendance for this meeting had been limited to those who may play a formal role in any processes linked to the future of Gilestone Farm.
It was also noted that James Evans MS had also requested to attend the meeting with the same reasoning provided.
The Community Council representative and the County Councillor noted the need for more information on how these plans would affect the community day to day. The plan needed to be placed in the context of the village and individual villagers, for example information on potential increased traffic and noise. It was noted that this work would form part of the licensing assessment with the local authority and would be undertaken before relevant activities were allowed to proceed.
The County Councillor noted the current traffic issues in Talybont-on-Usk and noted previous conversations around a car park for the village and lack of pavement. The County Councillor felt strongly that these issues would need to be discussed and form part of any agreement for the site.
It was queried whether a full environmental assessment would be undertaken before any activities proceeded. Representatives of Green Man confirmed that all necessary assessments would be undertaken and noted that it currently undertakes said assessments at the Glanusk Estate – an event far in excess of the number of people proposed for events at Gilestone Farm.
The Community Council representative noted that at the Green Man Festival, the attendees leave the site and travel into Crickhowell and noted a belief that this could cause issues in the village. Representatives from Green Man noted that with the Festival, Green Man encourages this as the local community in Crickhowell want the attendees to contribute to the local economy. It was noted that this can be tailored to individual projects and if the local community want attendees for the smaller scale events planned for Gilestone to remain on site, then this can be controlled.
Representative from Welsh Government noted that many of these issues can be provided for through clauses in any potential commercial lease.
The Leader of Powys County Council noted that the current challenges faced by the county were extremely serious. The demographics of the county had changed significantly towards an economically inactive demographic over a number of years and that change was accelerating. The level of challenges faced by local infrastructure such as the school system and the health system were huge and unfortunately getting worse. The Leader noted that it was imperative that proposals such as this were given due consideration in order to try and provide economic opportunities to ensure that the county was able to retain and maintain families and economic activity.
The official from Powys County Council noted that the local authority was open to considering developments such as the one proposed here, however noted that the local authority could not engage until a decision had been made by a Welsh Government Minister on whether to proceed to lease negotiations and to allow the relevant formal licensing assessments to begin. Welsh Government official noted that whilst the decision of the Minister over the coming weeks would be crucial, it would not be a final decision. This decision will relate to whether to proceed to the next stage of the process. A final decision will come later when the Minister is provided will a fuller assessment based on the outcome of licensing and regulatory work and based on the agreed terms of the commercial lease.
An official from Brecon Beacons National Park Authority agreed with the views of Powys County Council and the importance of giving due consideration to developments such as proposed. It was noted that Brecon Beacons National Park Authority would also be open to an Area Plan that would coincide with the consideration of this proposal.
A further discussion was held around the potential for noise at the small-scale events proposed for the site. Representatives of Green Man noted that an initial noise levels assessment had been undertaken by an external expert however more assessment would be needed on being granted access to the site. It would be intended that noise sensors would be placed all around the valley to live monitor the noise escaping from the site to ensure compliance.
More information was requested on the jobs proposed to be created. Representatives from Green Man noted that these would be attractive skilled jobs across a range of different areas within the Green Man brand and in addition, the proposed Creative Hub would also create jobs, promote entrepreneurship and offering business mentoring to emerging businesses.
Representatives from Green Man asked what they could do to work with the community to help aid their concerns. They noted that this proposal is an attempt to develop economic activity in an area of Wales that had traditionally been difficult to develop. It was noted that environmental issues were at the heart of everything that Green Man does.
Lease needs to go through Ministerial sign-off. The lease will be with Cwningar as this is the company used to buy or lease land.
Cllr Moorman – Very similar to the information received at last May’s meeting. WG say they are not there to answer questions about all proposals and offerings.
Science, interactive events, child’s play and interactive models. Irritated not to be invited to meeting, and very few answers.
County Cllr Cartwright – There’s a difference having WG own the land rather than a private enterprise. There are protections. A business plan won’t be provided as it’s commercially sensitive.
Cllr Burdon – What is the strategic business plan, vision and project mandate? Will Fiona Stewart presentation be shared?
Cllr Short – The lease is not to be signed by Greenman. This brings risks. Everything keeps changing, is the site not for Greenman?
Cllr Burdon – Creative Wales is all about filming, animation and gaming, not baking and brewing. Where’s the creative element?
Cllr Jones – How long do we have to organise a presentation? We need to get when the lease is to be signed.
County Cllr Cartwright – This is to be a commercial lease with a financial return and not a grant. We need jobs and skills to retain people.
Cllr Burdon – There must be a communications plan from WG / Greenman. This cannot just be a roadshow.
Cllr Moorman – There must be a direct route of communication, with a dedicated person. 10 months later the only change is a baking school!
Questions from the public – Gilestone
Gareth Davies – Ideas seem cobbled together. How much emphasis is there on sustainable farming?
John D. Jones – This is designed to suck people in, the main interest is making money out of music festivals. This is a marketing exercise. Questions need to be raised about the lease, cannot farm with other planned activities. Jobs are welcomed, but why not consider the other available sites across Wales? £23 million is unexplainable, motivation is music festivals. Why has there been no consultation, and no public meeting?
Nina Krauzewicz – Is this a permanent lease to Greenman Trust? Will the farm be sold later to Fiona Stewart?
John D. Jones – 10 years from now Greenman will be sold, and a new company could be running festivals at Gilestone. What protections are there? Investment in audio surveys means festivals, teaching farming does not work with festivals. Why is this not understood?
John D. Jones – What partnerships with an Agriculture College or teaching Support does Fiona Stewart have? There are no experts in her team.