High above a sweeping valley that cuts through a majestic stretch of Welsh countryside, a buzzard’s wings caress the warm, thermal breeze.
On the ground below, other feathers have been ruffled – by plans to build ‘monstrous’ 700ft hillside wind turbines that could tower as high as The Shard near locals’ homes.
The proposed wind power development, which is set to include a zig-zagging 60-mile line of pylons carrying the energy generated by the turbines, is tearing communities apart and even setting families at war with one another.
Locals who are opposed to the development are angry with neighbours in their villages who have ‘sold out’ to Bute Energy by accepting payments of up to £27,000 a year – for the next 40 years – to have a turbine installed on their land.
One of the principal beneficiaries of the scheme is likely to be the family of former royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke, who now goes under the name Alexandra Pettifer.
Her well-to-do family owns the 6,000-acre Glanusk Estate in the Brecon Beacons National Park, where their farming income is further bolstered by a thriving holiday cottage business and wedding and sporting events.
But a MailOnline investigation this week has discovered that Tiggy’s brother, Harry Legge-Bourke, who heads the estate, also stands to earn a staggering £1million a year from Bute Energy’s wind farm plans.
Pictured is a mock-up showing examples of turbines might look like in the Welsh countryside if the plans for a controversial new wind farm are approved
Her brother Harry Legge-Bourke (pictured), who heads the family’s Glanusk Estate in the Brecon Beacons National Park, stands to earn a staggering £1million a year from Bute Energy’s wind farm plans, a MailOnline investigation revealed
Residents are up in arms over the new wind farm plans which they say will blight the Welsh countryside (pictured is a protest sign outside the town of Builth Wells)
For Mr Legge-Bourke owns the 4,000 acres of land on Aberedw Hill where 36 of the giant turbines are set to be installed by Bute.
Although he claims he and Bute have not discussed figures, it is understood that the energy company is offering around £27,000 a year for each turbine it installs – on a 40-year deal.
The prospective agreement would give Mr Legge-Bourke an annual income of £972,000 a year and £38,880,000 over the 40-year period, although he confirmed he would hand some of that over to farmers who have common land rights to graze their livestock on the land.
Many of the locals living in the shadow of Aberedw Hill in the tightly-knit Powys village of Hundred House are furious with Mr Legge-Bourkes for holding discussions with Bute aimed at allowing the company to plonk its skyscraper turbines on the summit because, they say, it will ‘wreck’ the natural beauty of the area.
Few residents in the isolated village were willing to speak on the record about the deal because most make a living from rural occupations with employers who rub shoulders with the Legge-Bourkes.
But all agreed that the prospective deal struck by the wealthy landowner would leave an ugly scar across the beautiful countryside where many of them have lived since they were born.
‘We’re being sold out.
‘This wind farm will destroy the beauty and peace of the area.
The family of former royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke, who now goes under the name Alexandra Pettifer, is likely to be one of the principal beneficiaries of the wind farm scheme (she is pictured in 2010)
The proposed 36 wind turbines and miles of pylons in the Nant Mithil Energy Park have triggered outrage from locals, who are campaigning against it
Although he claims he and Bute have not discussed figures, it is understood that the energy company is offering around £27,000 a year for each turbine it installs – on a 40-year deal (pictured is the Welsh countryside where the wind farm could be developed)
The prospective agreement would give Mr Legge-Bourke (pictured) an annual income of £972,000 and £38,880,000 over the 40-year period, although he confirmed he would hand some of that over to farmers who have common land rights to graze their livestock on the land
‘Every turbine will need a service road from the main road and they plan to build a 60-mile stretch of pylons through the valleys below to transport the energy to a power plant.
‘How can anyone think this destruction and the millions of tonnes of concrete and tarmac it will produce is helping to save the planet?’
Speaking to Mailonline this week, Mr Legge-Bourke was candid about his interest in securing a deal to install turbines on Aberedw Hill.
He said: ‘This land is owned by me personally and yes, my position is that I have options with Bute Energy and other renewable energy companies for solar and wind power generation on land I own, including Aberedw.
‘I am a huge fan of renewable energy. We have a micro-hydro scheme in operation on our estate and I want to be able to help produce renewable energy on all the land we own across Wales.’
Mr Legge-Bourke acknowledged the plans for a wind farm at Aberedw were proving ‘divisive’ in the community. ‘It has caused a lot of jealousy,’ he said, adding:
‘It’s causing jealousy because a lot are getting money and others are not.
‘But we have got to go green and protect our energy security, and of course we need to get that green energy to the national grid, which means we need pylons.
‘It would be wonderful to bury the power cables beneath the ground but that is just not economically viable, so we have to use pylons.
‘But pylons do not need to be ugly. I have seen some really nice, attractive ones near Taunton on the M5. I haven’t yet seen the designs from Bute, though, but I know they will be aesthetically pleasing because they care about these things.’
More than 500 campaigners joined a public meeting at the Royal Welsh Showground earlier this year to oppose the plans by developers Bute Energy (pictured is a protest sign)
Speaking to Mailonline this week, Mr Legge-Bourke was candid about his interest in securing a deal to install turbines on Aberedw Hill (pictured)
Protest signs have been placed around the hill by campaigners seeking to oppose the development of the wind farm
He said he had ‘sympathy’ for locals opposed to the planned development, but said renewable energy should be everyone’s priority. ‘We can no longer have our cake and eat it. If we want electricity and energy security, we have no other choice.’
But he said that if locals remained opposed to the scheme, he would listen. He said: ‘I won’t do anything here without their permission and consent.
‘Many are in favour of this proposed scheme, not least the upland farmers who have been losing their subsidies from the Welsh government. They know they could earn £10-15,000 a year from turbines on the land where their animals graze, as opposed to absolutely nothing without them.’
Although Mr Legge-Bourke owns the land at Aberedw, he said it is ‘common land’, meaning farmers can graze their sheep and cattle on his land for free.
If the turbine deal goes ahead, he will be bound to pay them an annual fee as compensation, he said.
‘In the current economic climate, where else are they going to get their income from?’ he added.
Although not everyone stands to make as much money from the proposed project as Mr Legge-Bourkes, it is proving no less divisive for others who are considering taking the Bute shilling.
No one in the area was willing to admit they were in discussions with Bute – and in any case they are bound by non-disclosure agreements signed with the energy giant – but locals have their suspicions. It is believed that families are also being torn apart by clashes over the turbines.
As one local said, ‘it’s the new Brexit’.
The turbines are 700ft and some would sit on hills 350ft high. Signs opposing their development dot the local area
No one in the area was willing to admit they were in discussions with Bute – and in any case they are bound by non-disclosure agreements signed with the energy giant
Although Mr Legge-Bourke owns the land at Aberedw, he said it is ‘common land’, meaning farmers can graze their sheep and cattle on his land for free (he is pictured in 2004 with wife Iona)
The woman, who runs a tourism business in the area, said: ‘You’ve got families at war here, where someone is in talks with Bute to install a turbine on their land, but a relative has turned the company down and is now at loggerheads with their loved ones. It’s heartbreaking,
‘In one case, we’ve got two brothers who have fallen out because one has agreed to a turbine and the other refuses. But because of that turbine, the non-turbine brother will have to allow Bute to run pylons across his land because it needs to be close. He can’t fight Bute over the pylons because Bute will have the right to put the pylons where they want under compulsory purchase law.
‘It has caused conflict between the brothers that will not easily be resolved.’
In the heart of Hundred House, the Barstow family run a campsite beneath Aberedw Hill and fear for its future if the wind plans are successful.
Katie Barstow, 68, said: ‘The preferred line goes over our campsite lake and right in front of it.
‘That would mean 35 years of building up a business gone. People aren’t going to want to come and sit under a pylon and have a picnic.
‘They come to Mid Wales because it’s peaceful, because it’s quiet, because there’s nothing here and because of the unspoilt landscape.
‘We’ve worked incredibly hard to bring people to this area, to introduce them to what we have here in Mid Wales. They come now in their numbers and they’ll be devastated if this happens to their favourite place.’
Her daughter-in-law, mother-of-two Natalie, was also worried about the noise the turbines would make. The 43-year-old added: ‘All we’ve got to trade on is the great outdoors – that’s why people come here.
‘But will they still come if the campsite is surrounded by giant wind turbines and electricity pylons?’
Mr Legge-Bourkes said he had ‘sympathy’ for locals opposed to the planned development, but said renewable energy should be everyone’s priority Hundreds of locals have joined the battle against the wind farm. Pictured are Will Barstow and Natalie Barstow who own Fforest Fields, Caravan & Camping Site and are against the plans
Locals say the the huge 700ft turbines and the network of pylons will ruin huge swathes of rolling Welsh hills
The family’s Fforest Fields site is sheltered by a 350ft wooded hill, now destined to have 700ft wind turbines sitting along the top – almost as high as the Pen-Y-Fan mountain.
Natalie’s husband Will, 44, added: ‘Families are being torn apart by this and it has split communities.
‘Some people have signed up to have a turbine on their land, others to have pylons. Their neighbours are furious about it, there is a lot of ill-feeling.
‘I’m not interested in compensation – how do you compensate for ruining one of the most beautiful parts of the UK?’
Another villager, who asked not to be named, said: ‘This isn’t just about ruining the view nearby – these are monstrous structures.
‘Surely it makes more sense to build these things out to sea and not in the middle of the countryside churning up land and destroying wildlife.’
More than 500 campaigners joined a public meeting at the Royal Welsh Showground earlier this year to oppose the plans by developers Bute Energy.
Conservative MP Fay Jones attended the public consultation and said she was ‘against’ the plans. A local Facebook group fighting the turbine proposals also has more than 650 members with villagers discussing ways to oppose the plans.
Ross Evans, of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, said: ‘Bute Energy, who have no experience and no assets in this field, are trying to become the biggest player in Wales.
‘They’ve gone in very heavy-handed and are trying to build their own transmission network through the backdoor.
‘They claim to have 25 per cent of people signed up although I sincerely doubt it – but it’s caused a level of anger in the community.’
Bute Energy insisted the new wind turbines would generate around 237MW of cleaner, green energy – which could power about 71,000 homes.
The firm said all feedback would be ‘carefully considered’ ahead of the next round of public consultation in early 2024.
A spokesman added: ‘Together, the projects will empower rural communities through investment, jobs and skills, enabling communities across Wales to live modern electric lives, and support the Welsh Government’s target for electricity to be 100 per cent renewable by 2035.
‘We know people have differing views on new infrastructure. But across Wales, there’s broad agreement that renewable energy has an important part to play in responding to the climate emergency.’