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Peace protesters’ fury at council’s £500k funding pledge to drone airport

Peace protesters are furious at a Plaid Cymru run council’s decision to support the development of an airfield into a centre of excellence for military drones.

Gwynedd Council’s cabinet gave the go-ahead to invest £500,000 to build a new access road to the airfield at Llanbedr, near Harlech, if match funding is agreed.

Peace protesters urge council to ditch £500,000 cash handout to drone airport

The project to develop the airfield will cost £25 million in total and more than half of this sum (£14m) is needed to build the road.

Gwynedd Council’s cabinet unanimously agreed to lead the project.

But Cymdeithas y Cymod (the Fellowship of Conciliation), who had lobbied councillors and attended the meeting at Caernarfon, were disappointed at the unanimous decision to approve the proposal.

Group spokesman Gwyn Williams said: “We were deeply disappointed with the Gwynedd Council Cabinet’s decision to approve unanimously a leading role in developing the Llanbedr airfield by investing half a million pounds.

“This will allow companies like QinetiQ to develop military drones there. This will increase the use made of Wales’ land and air space for military purposes in Cardigan Bay.”

He added: “The Cabinet argued they will only be contributing towards the construction of a road but then admitted its main purpose is to develop the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre. We do not consider we received appropriate answers to our concerns.

“It is very doubtful there will be a 100 new jobs and unlikely many Gwynedd workers will be employed. In a period of serious financial constraints, is this the best use of the Council’s resources?

“However our main concern is that we will be using more of Wales’s land and air space to promote this military industry that has devastated so many innocent lives across the globe. We believe Gwynedd Council has lost an opportunity to object to the ever increasing use of Welsh land for the preparation for war.

“This is surprising since the majority of Gwynedd Councilors are members of Plaid Cymru. What has happened to the radical and peaceful Plaid Cymru traditions?”

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Cllr Ioan Thomas, Economic Development portfolio holder, told the Cabinet £250,000 was already set aside in the match funding fund and the remainder would come from the council’s asset management scheme.

He said the new access road would avoid Llanbedr village and a potential £7.5m was available in European funding, subject to approval from the Welsh European Funding Office.

Cllr Dilwyn Morgan, children and young people portfolio holder, was one of several Cabinet members anxious to secure assurances no Gwynedd Council money would be spent to develop military weapons.

Mr Thomas said the council funding would be for infrastructure improvements.

The Welsh Government owns the former military site but it is leased to Snowdonia Aerospace LLP which works closely with defence contractor QinetiQ.

A full application to develop Llanbedr airfield is due to be submitted to the Welsh European Funding Office before the end of year.

Source

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/peace-protesters-fury-councils-500k-14032711

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