Yet More Greed and Wanton Habitat Destruction in Dyffryn Nantlle, Gwynedd, North Wales
- A Destructive Practice of Ignorance For Ever More Land, Sheep, and Payments...
[ 16th May ]
- The Return of Richard Wyn Hws...
- These videos feature the character who identifies himself as Richard Wyn Hws, owner of Y Wern (Farm), director of Pant-Du Cyf (Pant Du Vineyard, Penygroes)¹, and director of Antur Nantlle Cyfyngedig². For some reason this character did not appreciate having his activities involving the photographing of people, including family groups with children, on Hen Lôn made public ...but, then, as can be seen in the videos, there is an old adage along the lines of "if the cap fits..."
Please Note: the above videos were taken in the privacy of my own home (at the time), - my bedroom, to be precise, - and any comments made within the videos are my personal opinion and were, likewise, made within the privacy of my own home (at the time). I was not the only person living along Ffordd Hyfrydle who had encounters with this character skulking around at the top of their garden using their smartphone as a camera, with the camera aimed at the houses as opposed to the field, either.
It should also be noted that there were two reasons, in particular, why the character in the videos was (and probably still is) so anxious to prevent people from using the rights-of-way across the field area above my garden:
- an old hidden bunker being utilised by their family and their nationalist cronies (several on the board of Antur Nantlle Cyf) for reasons I cannot detail.
- trying to prevent people from being able to observe and monitor the activities of their cronies on, and across, the floodplain area below the B4418; not to mention activities around two properties on Hen Lôn and Rhiwlas Road. There have, since, been arrests in relation to this and amongst North Wales Police (the same force who have been protecting the character in the video, and most definitely not in the usual sense of the word).
[ 1 ] https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/08078406
[ 2 ] https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/02618216
Antur Nantlle Cyf is being used to siphon and launder funds through various criminal activities involving landowners and farmers in the Dyffryn Nantlle area, in part through community funding and grants3. Whilst this is almost certainly not the stated purpose behind this business, such organisations are, unfortunately, wide-open to this kind of abuse; which, in this case, also includes the financial institutions involved in handling and processing the funding (including that of land transactions themselves).
There are also several indirect family member "cut-outs" amongst the directorship which are almost certainly being used as a way to circumvent having to declare potential conflicts of interest, bearing in mind that the families in question are major landowners in the Dyffryn Nantlle area.
[ 3 ] The social housing project involving Grŵp Cynefin on the B4418 [ C20/0942/22/LL4 ], and just below Pant Du Vineyard, can probably be classed as an example of such: the land, previously part of Y Wern farm, is low quality land, being wetland pasture, with limited agricultural value, but excellent scope and potential for development (especially if that could be classed as "social-housing") ...straightaway meaning that it would be a prime candidate for funding through projects like Antur Nantlle ...and thus a very nice way for someone who just happens to be a member of the board of directors to offload an otherwise (to them) worthless piece of land at a very nice profit
This is just one example of many involving curious land acquisitions and transfers, all utilising government funds and grants through community projects, within and around the Nantlle Valley where any return to the actual communities is little more than thinly veiled cover for personal enrichment schemes involving some, if not all, of the Antur Nantlle directorship families.
[ 4 ] access to planning application details within the Gwynedd Planning Portal can be quite difficult: this appears to be a deliberate, and ongoing, policy of trying to hinder oversight on, and objections to, submitted applications, along with the removal of documents, submissions, and anything else that certain senior members of the Local Planning Authority or Gwynedd's representative for the Mineral Planning Authority find inconvenient or prejudicial to submitted applications (eg: declaring a potential conflict of interest when making planning decisions involving a member of their family living at Taldrwst Farm on Lôn Ddŵr, Llanllyfni)...
[ 21st April ]
- ignorance and greed knows no bounds: crop-spraying resumed again
[ again, more than 2 months prior to the allowed date ]
- Yes, once again the local contractors are out, on a daily basis, spraying the surrounding fields with industrial-strength herbicide showing their usual contempt for GAEC and Cross-Compliance, not to mention total disregard for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms1. Last week it was two 1992 model orange and white New Holland tractors2 with rear-mounted spray units for spraying the more hilly, semi-improved locations (read: areas that they probably should not be spraying) and this week it is both them and the boom-mounted sprayer with slightly later model, flat-front, blue New Holland tractor.
...so if you live in the areas of Tanyrallt, Talysarn, Nebo, or Nasreth (or anywhere else not yet sprayed by these clowns), and do not appreciate having your COVID resistance trashed (or that of your children or elderly relatives), or if you actually believe that receiving CAP and SFP for completely disregarding Cross-Compliance is wrong, now is the time to prepare your camera, because they will certainly be spraying somewhere around your area soon (if not already)2.
[ 1 ] the links shown below give a good outline on the problems caused by the herbicide being sprayed on the fields. Further interesting (and unpleasant) information can be found by searching for "herbicide respiratory illness".
[ 2 ] due to the age of these vehicles the colouration is now more a case of tan and white, as opposed to orange and white.
[ 3 ] the joker driving the blue tractor with red boom-sprayer is usually up and on the road, en-route to wherever they are spraying, anytime after 05:30 in the morning, usually driving along the B4418 ([ 12.05.20 ] 07:15, this morning, preceeded by one of the 1992 tractors at 06:15) from the direction of Nantlle and through Penygroes, but sometimes travelling along Lôn Ddŵr towards Llanllyfni, with Hen Lôn, via Talysarn, as an alternative option.
Note: it is likely that you will face attempts at intimidation or interference from several sources in the area, most notably from any of the farms situated off Lon Ddŵr or Tal Garnedd and, quite possibly, from any one of several characters driving city vans in the area. It is also highly probable that any attempt to use a mobile handset will be illegally blocked or intercepted; however, there is a Police presence in the area, so please ensure that you report any such attempts, whatever form they take.
[ 6th April ]
- possible crop-dusting on Pant Du Vineyard and Orchard
- Ordinarily this would not be an addressable issue, save that Pant Du are not simply a vineyard: the business is built around a farm, which is actually in receipt of CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) payments (presumably SFP (Single Farm Payments)), too, which means that they are supposed to comply with cross-compliance ...and means that they are subject to penalties for spraying or dusting before the 30th June. Having now verified, for definite, that Pant Du are spraying their orchards and vineyards [ confirmed on 06.07.20 ], this raises some very serious questions over the insect die-backs that I have been seeing year-on-year and early-on every year2 without fail, since 2017 (but not, so far, this year).
This is of especial concern when someone who I understood (whether correctly or not) to be a member of their family has previously confirmed the recent absence of a particular bat species3 in the immediate vicinity of the vineyard whilst seemingly being unaware that the bat species in question is insectivorous and could well have been starved-out of the local area by any crop-spraying or dusting activities, whether on the vineyard or not.
Of further concern still are the activities on the Pant Du estate yesterday, when people on the estate grounds were openly observing people from a red 4x4 parked on a lower field just above the B4418, whilst another sweaty, almost bald, humourist (wearing a dark puffa jacket) was busily photographing people, including local families and their children, walking along Hen Lôn (the lane above the main holdings) from the lane itself, whilst hovering between a John Dere quad hidden in the field just below the lane and making a pretense of fitting tree-wrappings in a field above Hen Lôn.
Further to the above, said humourist then tried to threaten me and give me some nonsense about there not being a lower right-of-way on the field accessed via a path leading-up from Ffordd Hyfrydle4 or access via the lower gate to or from Hen Lôn; and then, after following me along said lane towards Talysarn (all the while giving me more verbiage along a similar vein), claiming that they were the landowner, Richard Wyn Huws (in which case they would certainly have known that they were in the wrong); although it later transpired that they actually were the landowner.
Could this possibly have anything to do with the curious, and noticeable, coincidence that almost invariably, and immediately (or certainly within a few days), proceeding any new attempts at intimidation or other similar stupidity there will be some activity being pursued by someone in the area (usually one of the local landowners or farmers) that is either outright illegal or of a very questionable nature; examples of this being an unauthorised planning development on Hen Lôn that switched to fully open and operational on the 7th April5 (ie: the following day), and immediately following the COVID-19 lockdown, or the illegal slate waste extraction at Tomen Lechi Taldrwst (access to the footpath to which, - off the B4418, - just happens to be overlooked by the site of where the red 4x4 was parked on the lower vineyard)?
Interestingly, following-on from the above encounter, I was able to capture, from the public right of way, a video clip of a tractor engaged in some kind of activity amongst the vineyards, covering the entire area (with many people in the process of self-isolating and doubtless in their gardens) with a pall of acrid, chalky, dust which may have been lime sulfur.
Further, it does have to be asked why, if Pant Du are all they claim to be, why is their owner being so unprofessional and so inconsiderate? Also whether they, the owner, are acting purely on personal grounds or something more, and why, too, more recently, have they started to involve their son, other family members, and those who work for them, in these activities, or simply making a pretense of walking the area, whilst quite obviously keeping watch whenever other people pass through the area? - Such is not normal unless they are trying to hide their activities or are colluding with others to hide their activities.
[ 1 ] I have personally collected many specimens of dead insects during the insect diebacks and can confirm that whatever is killing them is not a household insecticide: these specimens have included moths, bees, and flies (including those beneficial to gardens and wild habitats, and most constituting an important food source to other wildlife); in addition to live (but dying) specimens that have clearly been poisoned.
Dead insects that have been found in areas outside of those being sprayed can also be reported to the local Environmental Agency and, from there, to Rural Payments or Rural Payments Wales and especially if the spraying took place at any time prior to the 30th June. Photographs and video clips (keep them short) should also be taken, and insect samples should be retained or collected for testing, preferably in a clean sealed bag or airtight container.
[ 2 ] The lady stated that the bats were Bechstein Bats, which is definitely not good because they are very rare and not normally found outside of southern parts of England and Cymru.
[ 3 ] The public right-of-way that connects Ffordd Hyfrydle to Hen Lôn (Llanllyfni No. 6) can be seen on both the Gwynedd Public Rights of Way Definitive Map and any 1:25000 OS map, not to mention DEFRA's Magic map; however, there is a second right-of-way (Llanllyfni No. 21) that forks off from the first, with an access onto Hen Lôn further down the lane from the iron kissing-gate and roughly 50' up from Crug [Farm]; this also being the one that the owner of Pant Du seems to be so keen on preventing the use of.
[ 4 ] Confirmed by a local on a mini-tipper who tried to head me off when heading up and onto Hen Lôn to the top of Talysarn later on in the afternoon of the 7th, effectively confirming beyond a doubt that the work at the construction site was an unauthorised planning development.
[ 19th May ]
- local quarry site found to be being used as a tip by Gwynfaes Farm, with evidence of household, construction, and farming equipment being dumped there:
- Quarry Tips
[ 22nd May ]
- overspraying of the entire field area on the Lôn Ddwr side with strong herbicide extending from Gwnfaes Farm right the way across to within a field distance of Bro Silyn.
- included two semi-improved or EIA areas (one definitely unimproved)
- destruction of skylark habitat
- destruction of dragonfly habitat
- destruction of butterfly habitat, including red listed species
- destruction of protected plant species, including native bluebells
- cutting back of trees, at least 4 months before allowed date (with RPW derogation, or 5 months without).
- further destruction of wetland habitat
- removal of drainage ditches, resulting in both contamination and disruption of river tributaries
- overspraying with agri-chemicals, including strong herbicide, directly into river tributaries
- sprayed with strong herbicide, again 40 days prior to the allowed date for spraying
- damage to fallow areas
- work undertaken on behalf of, and by, Gwynfaes Farm, Llanllyfni, LL54 6RR and involved an older style blue New Holland tractor with a red boom sprayer
- Herbicide Spraying
[ 18th June ]
- further spraying using strong herbicide on unimproved land directly below Tanyrallt with an orange and white tractor, again using a boom-sprayer4
- destruction of skylark habitat
- destruction of butterfly habitat, including red listed species
- contamination of river tributaries
- sprayed with strong herbicide 2 weeks prior to the allowed date for spraying
- destruction of unimproved permanent grassland area
- the work is understood to have been undertaken by Gwernoer Farm, located en route to Nantlle from Talysarn and just off from the B4418.
[ 24th June ]
- destruction of a small wooded copse on the other side of the floodplain, just below Tanyrallt, involving the cutting-down of trees (many mature) and grubbing-up of old hedgerows, including the use of mechanical diggers to remove the stumps, with both the diggers and a tractor being used to grade and compact the land to try and hide the evidence.
- destruction of nesting bird habitat
- destruction of small mammal habitat
- destruction of saplings, scrub, and mature trees
- destruction of protected species of both fauna and flora, including bluebells and bat habitat
- destruction of butterfly habitat, including red listed species
- this work was also undertaken by Gwynfaes Farm, Llanllyfni, LL54 6RR
[ 21st May ]
- destruction of fenland area below the B4418, bordering Arfon Llyni
- destruction of otter habitat
- destruction of skylark habitat, including that of nesting birds with fledglings
- destruction of dragonfly habitat
- destruction of butterfly habitat, including red listed species
- destruction of embankment area, including the destruction of saplings
- destruction of wetland habitat and permanent grassland
- major contamination and disruption of river tributaries
- sprayed with strong herbicide 40 days prior to the allowed date for spraying, that being the 30th June
- river tributaries oversprayed
- destruction of fallow areas
- work undertaken by Gwynfaes Farm, Llanllyfni, LL54 6RR and Pen-Yr-Allt-Gôch, Llanllyfni, LL54 6SB
:: video 2 :: As It Was
:: slides 2 :: Apocalypse Now: Scorched Earth
:: video 3 :: Buffer Strip Destruction
:: slides 3 :: Cover-Up
:: slides 4 :: Sea of Mud
[ 5th July 2019: ] the area in question, whilst still lacking much of its original character, has now recovered quite well; also, to their credit, the farmers have been leaving this alone, mowing later on in the year, and leaving the border areas intact. The drainage channels have been re-colonised to a large extent, too, and for the time being, at least, even if doubtless unintentially after discovering the meaning of soakaway, this area is serving as a good example of how an area can be (or can revert to) semi-improved without loss of use to the farmer.
[ 6th August ]
- major trimming and thinning of boundary hedgerows and copse areas1
[ 1 ] Cross-Compliance and Greening rules disallow the trimming and removal of brush, copse, and hedgerow between the 31st of March and the 31st August, but a derogation for situtations where the farmer is planting rape seed or temporary grass seed at the same time means that this work can be carried-out at any time in August (ie: up to a month earlier than would otherwise be allowed).
[ Notable Wildlife ]
- Reed Warblers [ Acrocephalus scirpaceus ], Sedge Warblers [ Acrocephalus schoenobaenus ], and Grasshopper Warblers [ Locustella Nævia ] can also be found among, and nesting, in the reeds along the bank of the river, along with Grey Heron [ Ardea cinerea ] (sadly nowhere near as many as would normally be expected in such a location), and Jays [ Garrulus glandarius ]; all of which would be fantastic were it not for the ongoing threat of further destruction and spraying with agri-chemicals.
Sadly, and probably inevitably, the Skylarks do not appear to have recovered from the destruction of their habitat last year, and a good part of an adjacent area (still fenland) was heavily over-grazed earlier on in the year, in addition to being deliberately contaminated with a sizeable quantity of animal waste from Gwynfaes Farm under the cover of darkness and idiotically using tractors pulling trailer loads of waste along a main highway with no headlights in November of last year.
Fenland or Permanent Grassland, - Which Is It?
Greening, GAEC, Cross-Compliance, and SFP
During the period from August through to September, 2018, under the guise of ploughing and rolling, several tons of crushed aggregate were also buried in the ground in order to eradicate the wetland structure of the ground and to firm it up for sheep grazing. In the process several of the original drainage channels (which were likely put in place by Dŵr Cymru during the laying of a waste water pipe across the floodplain several decades ago) were, likewise, removed, infilled with crushed stone and earth, and compacted or so badly damaged that they no longer serve any purpose.5
This has not only completely destroyed a valuable wetland habitat, making it all but impossible to restore in the process, but has also turned a natural soakaway into a compacted mass of stone and clotted earth that will ultimately become absolutely worthless and serve no purpose beyond causing massive surface erosion and a great deal of debris run-off into the river (which is already silting-up and flooding partly as a direct consequence of this addled approach to land management).
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening application should also have been submitted on this land (and never was) and breaching the regulations is both illegal and a potentially prosecutable offence, with a requirement to reinstate the land to its previous condition and/or a Cross Compliance penalty on the farmer's Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) or Rural Development Scheme payments.
Using DEFRA's CAP search pages
, it would appear that those responsible for destroying the soakaway below the B4418 place plenty of 'value' in the environment:
...unfortunately, whereas most people value the environment as something to benefit us all, it would appear that they only value it in a form that lines their pocket, so to speak.
- [ 4 ] if you see a tractor with a large tank, possibly a boom too, mounted on the back or other similar farm vehicle configurations engaged in spraying activities in Dyffryn Nantlle [ the Nantlle Valley ] area anytime before the 30th of June, please photograph or video it (if possible) with timestamp, obtain the registration number of the vehicle (if possible), the map grid reference, make a report to the RPW and, if there are water courses anywhere in the vicinity, the local Environmental Protection Agency, who might also be able to use water samples taken from the site at the time of spraying.
Most importantly of all, check the field number on DEFRA's Magic website and add that into your report. Provided you have evidence of the alledged activity, the farmer can hide their tractor, obscure themselves from view whilst spraying, whatever, but all RPW require is something to show that the alledged activity has taken place (even if it is only the withered remains of the field a couple of weeks later) along with the field number, and they can apply sanctions or suspend payments to the farmer(s) or landowner(s).
Please, too, report any areas that you know to have already been sprayed, providing whatever additional details you can in the process and maintain an ongoing timeline with additional photographs taken on later dates, and ensure that the report, especially those of "caught in the process" are posted everywhere, online and off, yn Cymreig a Saesneg.!
- [ 5 ] the self-same soakaway would also have been retained, originally, because it is (or was) the soakaway for a considerable amount of water that comes off the watershed leading up to a highway and housing on the hills above the B4418 side of the field; so the action of deliberately destroying it effectively constitutes a criminal act in the scope of its stupidity, not simply one of extreme ignorance where the environment is concerned.
The farmers in question claim to have previously improved the area a good four years ago. Whilst I agree that the field area may have been sprayed, - even though, as a watershed area with watercourses, there is no way that it should have been, - there was never anything approaching the destruction of last year and trying to imply that minor improvements made several years ago make the destruction acceptable in any way, or make up for the lack of EIA in advance of the work, is absolute nonsense. My concerns over the land, and its destruction, remain justifiable and the subsequent RPW penalties justified.
Further, whilst declining to acknowledge their complete failure to request an EIA prior to the work or that they completely ignored Cross-Compliance in the course of the work, they have, since, confirmed that they removed the drainage channels in order to "improve" the land. Seriously???
The Welsh government's EIA department, in conjunction with the NRW, completely and totally failed to protect the fenland habitat, but this is influenced by a number of factors including (but not limited) to:
- their cases have to be uncontestable, so if work has already been completed on land it can be very difficult to determine whether or not that land was unimproved or not, plus existing plants on the site may not be enough to conclusively say whether or not a site has been worked, and clover (used in the key tests) will frequently colonize an area (if allowed to) and give a positive on land having been worked even when it has not.
On the plus side, the EIA has access to extensive ærial reconaissance photographs and heat-maps, plus ground-radar records, and can determine whether land should have had an EIA screening application even if it has been improved, or should any evidence of the land being unimproved have been removed. A farmer can then be prosectuted even up to 7 years later (and ordered to implement remedial work) should it be determined that they destroyed an area of unimproved land.
DNA and soil-testing is also increasingly being used to determine cases, along with photo and video evidence from campaigners, environmentalists, and members of the public; not to mention the resources of, and checking by, local authorities, RPW, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Natural Resources Wales.
- the destroyed fenland area is not already, and was not previously, designated as a protected habitat; so this becomes a case of having to prove that this land should be protected or whether it would be better protected through a stricter observance of GAEC and Cross-Compliance.
- there is no legislation in place to protect the very habitats required by our protected species (unless the former condition applies); so it is considered unecessary to designate an area as protected just because of the presence of protected species, even if it is known that continued destruction of their habitats will result in their destruction too.
- under the circumstances, no checks are made to verify whether sites are semi-natural or not in the first place, ie: if a site is not already designated as being protected then that is that: short of direct intervention by llywodraeth Cymru [ the Welsh government ] an area, no matter how natural or unspoilt, essentially has no protection at all. That said, though, the government's EIA department, as detailed above, are able to determine whether a screening should have been applied to land that has been 'improved' and prosecute landowners and farmers, or even order resorative work, years after the initial destruction.
- whilst the presence of otters and skylarks, alone, within Dyffryn Nantlle is known, the EIA and NRW cannot give them any kind of special protection: their protection in undesignated nature areas comes down to little more than the Countryside and Wildlife Act in conjunction with GAEC and Cross-Compliance.
- The area of destroyed fenland, itself, even after RPW sanctions, is still in direct contravention of GAEC 5 in that there are no sediment fences in place and most definitely no 5 metre strip of uncultivated or unimproved land between the reed bed of the river and the field area.
This is also true of an adjacent area that was destroyed in a similar manner a good few years previously, not to mention another area below Bro Silyn which now floods badly in wet weather to the point where it will soon endanger housing and is probably already compromising the integrity of sewerage systems in that area.
this site is undergoing ongoing changes and amendments as further details and evidence is gathered and added to the site, so please feel free to use the contact details given at the foot of this page should you have any questions or should you wish to submit further details or evidence of your own; but please do not send attachments without first contacting me, as the attachments will simply be deleted by the mail server otherwise.
All the media material on this site is available by request, including copies of the original .jpg
files and additional material that is not currently part of the online article; likewise all letters and emails relating to contact with Rural Wales, the Environment Agency, and Natural Wales.
For anyone wanting to make their own reports of similar activities in their area, please contact me via my secure email address, and via a Protonmail account (free accounts available), if possible. Field numbers are also essential
for reporting incidents to Rural Payments, and these can be determined via MAGIC [
Interactive Map >
Where Am I? top menu-bar button) >
click on relevant area on the main map for the field number after zooming-in on, or searching for, that area) ]
I can also be contacted via Mastodon
Short URL: http://bit.do/DestroyedFenland
- @: Ex5NY27U corequery.uk
- secure email address as detailed above -