Schools hold small communities together, they give a village a focus point and allow parents to meet up and make friends. They allow children to get to know, and value their surroundings and the people who live within them. Strong communities promote positive, environmentally aware values.
Denbighshire council are currently in the process of what they call, ‘modernisation’ of the county’s primary schools. Closures are amongst some of the council’s proposals. There are many reasons cited for closing small community schools; surplus places, difficultly recruiting headteachers and rising overheads. In the end it all comes down to a lack of funds. By closing Ysgol Llandrillo, Denbighshire council will make a revenue saving of approximately £31,000 per annum. They will also avoid the maintenance backlog of around £140,000.
Between two of villages affected by the school closure, Cynwyd and Llandrillo, Scottish Power Renewables are proposing to build a wind farm. The Mynydd Mynyllod wind farm. The company promises to provide the local community with £2000 for every MW installed per annum. IF all 25 of the proposed turbines are installed, then this equates to an annual income of £150,000.
There are concerns in the area about the visual and economic impact the wind farm could have. The money on offer by Scottish Power, the ‘community benefit’, is seen by those campaigning against the wind farm as being little more than a bribe. The money would be made available to a wide area surrounding the wind farm, and so directing the money towards education in Llandrillo would require cooperation from a number of local communities. The council would also need to find a way of making an alternative funding source fit the ‘Modernisation’ agenda imposed upon them by the Welsh Government.
Wind farm money could present an opportunity for this area. However there are lots of differing interests within the area. If anything positive is to come out of the changes currently being proposed, both to eductation and landscape, then it is community cooperation that will be the key.