Vaughan Gething donor plans Gwent Levels solar farm – AOL

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February 26, 2024 at 2:17 PM

A major donor to Vaughan Gething’s Welsh Labour leadership campaign needs Welsh government approval to build a solar farm on the Gwent Levels.

Mr Gething received donations worth £200,000 from Dauson Environmental Group to fund his campaign to become first minister.

The company, run by a man twice convicted for environmental offences, has drawn up plans for a solar farm.

Mr Gething’s campaign was asked for comment.

Classed as a Development of National Significance (DNS), it would have to be approved by a Welsh government minister.

The proposed development, initially reported by WalesOnline, is situated in Rumney, Cardiff, and is on a special scientific interest conservation site.

Mr Gething would not be able to take the decision because the site is in his Cardiff South and Penarth constituency.

It means that if he were to become first minister, another minister in his cabinet – appointed by him – would have to decide whether to grant planning permission.

Development on the Gwent Levels is controversial and the Welsh government has recently rejected two other solar farm applications there on biodiversity grounds.

It also rejected the M4 Relief Road in 2019 because of environmental fears.

The Gwent Levels has proved attractive to solar farm development in part because of the ease of connection to the National Grid – the area is crisscrossed by pylons.

David NealDavid Neal
David Neal, who runs Dauson, has been convicted twice for environmental offences relating to illegal dumping of waste

Dauson, which is run by David Neal, is yet to file a full planning application but intends to do so in the last quarter of 2024.

Documents already filed with the Welsh government say most of the electricity for the site will be used by Mr Neal’s businesses, which are located nearby, powering existing soil processing, recycling and waste transfer facilities.

There were calls for an investigation after it emerged Mr Neal had donated £200,000 to Mr Gething’s campaign.

Mr Neal has been convicted twice for environmental offences relating to illegal dumping of waste – once in 2013 for illegal dumping of waste and again in 2017 for not removing it.

One of his companies faced action by Natural Resources Wales earlier in February after complaints about the smell at Withyhedge Landfill in Pembrokeshire.

In a recent WalesOnline hustings, Mr Gething said the issues “in terms of the behaviour of the company were reported more than five years ago – they took place a decade ago”.

“I’m really clear in my manifesto we’re taking a positive approach to want to see a climate and nature recovery, a positive approach to new rules and regulations around environmental protection and enforcement.”

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