Ieuan Rhys Daniel (who painted these pictures) and I have been involved with Awel Aman Tawe for the past six years, inspired by the drive and enthusiasm of two of its founders, Emily Hinshelwood and Dan McCallum.
I first got involved with Emily through Pontardawe Script Café and community plays about climate change and community action:- ‘Nine meals from Anarchy,’ ‘Conscious Oil’ and ‘Fall Out 84’.
It is my belief that when you meet individuals who inspire you (it doesn’t happen very often!) through their commitment, beliefs and actions, they’re really worth supporting.
So when we held our art and poetry joint exhibition called ,’Sorry I don’t eat Fish,’ celebrating nature and raising awareness about climate change at the Roald Dahl Gallery in Cardiff Bay, we donated the proceeds of profits from sales of Rhys’ paintings to Awel Aman Tawe. The amount was just about enough to pay for one screw and bolt in one turbine! Last year we were pleased to invest a bit more in Egni – Awel’s sister community solar energy co-op. Not sure how many screws we contributed to on one solar panel, but to Em and Dan it’s not the amount of money you give, it’s the support it represents that’s important.
The couple and their colleagues at Awel Aman Tawe have spent the last two decades trying to get planning for a community wind farm – just two turbines that will generate electricity in the Aman/Swansea Valleys in West Wales – an area devastated by the decline of the coal industry. As they’ve jumped through and over all the hoops and hurdles and finally got planning permission, the Government has reneged on their commitment to offer tax relief to community groups investing in renewable energy.
So, Awel Aman Tawe have fast forwarded their plans in order to be able to attract investors who believe renewable energy is an important component of action against climate change, who want to get a good yield on their funds (7%) or who want to support a Welsh community that is struggling.
After the hopes and failures of the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen many people felt despair. We attended workshops based on the work of American eco-psychologist, Joanna Macy, an environmental activist.
They explored how we can empower ourselves as individuals and communities by understanding the inter-connectedness of all beings and our relationship to the land.
The forthcoming UN Summit on Climate Change looms ahead and if you feel like us that it is probably the most important issue for the future of our planet, buying a screw in a community wind farm may not change the world on its own, but one screw and one bolt at a time surely is a good start.”
Pictures by Ieuan Rhys Daniel
(top: “Gwylanwydd/Gannets”, bottom: “Pembrokeshire Landscape”)