THE birthplace of one of the most famous women in Welsh history will be scarred if controversial plans for overhead power cables go ahead, it has been claimed.
John Mars-Jones, whose family has farmed for four generations at Berain in Llannefydd, between Denbigh and Abergele, says irreparable damage will be caused to the historic property if the application by SP Manweb is granted.
Berain, parts of which date from the 14th century, was the birthplace in 1540 of Katheryn of Berain, whose four husbands were John Salusbury, Sir Richard Clough, a wealthy merchant who established the Royal Exchange in the City of London, Maurice Wynn, Sheriff of Caernarfonshire, and Edward Thelwall.
Known as "The Mother of Wales", she had six children and her many descendants included Hester Thrale and the 18th-century explorer John Salusbury.
SP Manweb want to erect 17 miles of overhead cables between three windfarms in the Clocaenog area and a substation at Glascoed, near St Asaph.
There have been objections from Denbighshire and Conwy councils, politicians, environmentalists and landowners along the route, and the planning inspectorate is currently carrying out a lengthy public inquiry.
About 1,200 metres of the line would be across Berain's land and 16 pairs of wooden poles would be needed.
The Mars-Jones family are among numerous farmers fighting to stop the development, not only because of the impact on the landscape and on farming operations but also because of the effect on the house and farm buildings.
The house, described in official records as "a Tudor gentry house", has a Grade II* listing, and a group of farm buildings is also listed.
"Berain is a historic property of national importance and the inspector is now well aware of its significance," said Mr Mars- Jones.
"The overhead line will have a significantly detrimental effect. We and previous generations have cared for the house and taken trouble to protect it, but having power lines crossing in front of it will undermine all the good work that has been done."
Mr Mars-Jones said that, even if SP Manweb remain committed to the route, they should consider laying underground cables along the Berain section.
In response to his objections, the company carried out an assessment and concluded that "no substantial harm" would be caused.
In their written submission to the inquiry, they acknowledged the farm's important heritage but said: "This designation has not prevented the farm's operation as a working farm and SP Manweb's view is that it should not prevent successful operations of an electricity network in a rural area, which is as much a rural necessity as the farm business."
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