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Wales’s most magical landscape, ruined forever: why DARC is all cons and no pros for PembrokeshireWales’s most magical landscape, ruined forever: why DARC is all cons and no pros for Pembrokeshire




































A hook, line and sinker monstrosity, from all sides around: twenty-seven towering, multi-storey radars over a whole kilometre, right in the heart of the Dewisland peninsula, visible like a gaping wound on the horizon from the magical beaches of Newgale and Solva, Whitesands, Penycwm, Roch, Trefgarn Owen, Llandeloy, Treffynnon, and everything and everywhere in between.

Of all of Trump’s ideas, this leaves even the unfinished wall with Mexico out of breath to catch up.

The only artist’s impression our artist has ever made they wish would remain an impression

The 27-dish DARC radar network, made up of 27 20 metre tall, 15 metre wide ultra high-radiation dishes of a type that to our knowledge is so alien to Britain that we don’t know of any other such installation anywhere on the whole island, would span over a square kilometre, and be visible for kilometres around.

The view from Newgale, as you drive into one of Wales’s (even the UK’s) most iconic beach vistas of all time, is particularly stomach-churning:


With Lower Solva coming in at no distance behind:



But the DARC radar farm would be visible from just about everywhere:

BRAWDY (EAST)
LLANDELOY
ROCH
PENYCWM
TREFGARN OWEN
BRAWDY (WEST)
SOLVA TO NEWGALE ROAD (A487)
ST ELVIS COASTAL WALK
NEWGALE BEACH
BRAWDY CHURCH
BRAWDY (EAST)
LLANDELOY
ROCH
PENYCWM
TREFGARN OWEN
BRAWDY (WEST)
SOLVA TO NEWGALE ROAD (A487)
ST ELVIS COASTAL WALK
NEWGALE BEACH
BRAWDY CHURCH

We thought the radar plans were bad in the early 1990s. We’re not going to lie: we’re starting to think the idea to build an over-the-horizon radar array in the magical tourist hotspot of the west Pembrokshire coast probably should have stayed in the 1990s, along with certain hairstyles that won’t be named here!

POV: You’re a tourist, driving to Solva. Window down, warm breeze in your hair: and then you see the huge radars, peppering the whole skyline. What are you thinking to yourself?

Wow, way to kill the magic of this landscape. Who made that decision? I dunno Marge, maybe we’ll try somewhere else next time. It’s just not how it was here.’

To us, that sounds like what quite a lot of tourist regulars (apparently Homer in this case) in love with our rugged and remote landscape might well be thinking to themselves, as they drive through the vista of Newgale, or out of Solva and along the open road, that warm summer wind passing them by.

And therein lies the problem. Not just for tourists, but for all those who might move here, or who did move here precisely because of the unique, soulful landscape, and all the many memories that came with it.

DARC, meanwhile, offers our tourism, and our property values, nothing but a negative spiral downwards, along with the heart and soul of this unique part of the county.

Stomach churned yet? Sign the petition…






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But for those of you who want to stay on the rollercoaster, let’s look at more of the US military’s all-cons, no-pros offer that is 27 monstrous DARC radars in Pembrokeshire.

The 100 jobs… that actually turns out to be about 20 jobs… that actually turns out to be about 300 job losses

100 new jobs would be nice.

For the specialist US military personnel coming over here who would live 24/7 on the base, and would probably get most of them.

Assuming there weren’t also 400 people leaving Cawdor Barracks to go to an army base in Monmouthshire.

And assuming they would even last for much longer than the potentially limited duration of the DARC project.

The trouble is, the jobs would mainly be for Americans, not locals. And the net job losses would be 300, meaning the MOD is actually cutting jobs, not giving us new ones. And the other small issue that they might not even last anyway.

The numbers don’t stack up. The facts don’t stack up. The only thing that stacks up is pretty much the number of tourists that will think we’ve made the worst economic and aesthetic decision of our entire history.

A vision for Brawdy Barracks that could be so much better for Pembrokeshire

It’s true: All staff in Brawdy’s base are said to be leaving by 2028. But there is a vision of what could be done with the base that’s so much better, for all of us, than destroying our skyline, our public health and our tourism.

Brawdy Enterprise Park was created when the US Navy left Brawdy’s army base, similarly cutting local jobs. A very large hangar and several buildings on the edge of the base were bought up by a property developer, and turned over to the local community of Dewisland.

And that’s exactly where things started to look up.

In just the last year, Pembrokeshire’s very own movers and shakers have been showing to the rest of the county just what is possible if you have a vision, back yourself, and start a brand-new, Pembrokeshire-grown local business.

Two new businesses (firsts of their kind for the area)—Sarah Jane Brown's Fine Art Studio and Bistro Bites, have kicked off recently. Development has been booming on the site, with a new building on the way up, the hangar operation busily expanding into the development of multiple room units ready for new businesses, and established businesses weathering a pandemic and making it through to show us all how it’s done.

Did you know that Dewisland has its very own wildly successful major online retailer, selling cards and gifts worldwide? The Crafty Giraffe, with its workshop and offices all based in Brawdy Enterprise Park, had a huge year during the Covid pandemic in 2020, where staff were working through the night and day to meet the challenges of an absolute tidal wave of Christmas demand.

Now just imagine.

What if instead of DARC, we used the infrastructure left behind by the MOD base to expand this rising star of a business park, and create a huge, newly-funded hub for new, Pembrokeshire-grown businesses?

Money into the hands of the local community. Ambition, development space for new housing, space for new businesses to develop—this could be the very thing our part of the county needs to regenerate its economy, keep our younger people here (and ready to provide needed support for the older generations), and take an exciting new lead into the future—all in the comfort of our very own backyard.

We’re sure you can do all the imagining you need yourself. How about an indoor skydiving centre? A motorbike course, stretching around the structure of the runways?

What if the tens of thousands of tourists who visit each year had their very own theme park to go to?

And of course, with any uses like this for the soon-to-be decommissioned Brawdy base, you can take your 100 jobs-that-aren’t-really-jobs, and multiply them, before you start getting close to the number of quality, super-local jobs the expanded Brawdy Enterprise Park could truly come to offer our community.

We’d just like to thank the US Space Force for making our job so easy for us.

We’re going to be honest with you. For some of us running this who are experienced campaigners, this is not one of the hardest set of arguments we’ve ever had to make for a campaign.

But it doesn't stop there. Because as much as our prosperity matters as human beings, we share a world and a landscape with a rich diversity of animal and plant habitats, which we fully depend on for our survival. And they’re just one more reason why Donald Trump’s bathroom mirror Star Wars fantasy would have been better off staying in his head, along with all his other big-brain ideas.

The environmental impact. It’s worse than you think.

Even the US military and MOD’s scoping report has to admit it: the ecological area impacted by the un-greenwashable idea of building 27 giant radar dishes as high as multi-storey buildings is, according to the report, a ‘high sensitivity area with respect to potential impacts on ecological receptors’.1

First there’s the bats, a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, whose flight paths across the site would be decimated by the nighttime light, heat and incredibly unsafe dish-concentrated vertical radiation produced by the endless network of radars. Doesn’t their habitat matter to the US military?

Then there’s the huge population of skylarks on site, ‘considered the largest in Wales’ by the report. Doesn’t the fact our country’s biggest skylark population could face pollution and potential unearthed contaminants, driving them away from their habitat, matter to the US military?

How about the red-billed chough, a bird ‘only found within very specific parts of the UK’:2 doesn’t the effects of the heavy construction run-off, dust, and potential loss of habitat for this ultra-rare species matter to the US military?

In fact, the habitats used for living and foraging that make up the unique and magical character of our part of Pembrokeshire are incredibly rich and diverse. Within just 5 km of the Brawdy base, there are 386 records of 94 notable invertebrate species, 45 records of amphibians, 97 records of reptiles, 1,054 individual records of 66 priority bird species, 223 records of bats, 94 records of badger, 21 records of otter, and records of brown hare, European hedgehog, Eurasian harvest mouse, stoat, weasel and polecat3—all in and around ‘habitats of international importance, notably wet alder woodland as well as heathland and wet grassland areas.’4

All of them would be affected.

But not, of course, without heaping on the extra carbon emissions that make the US military the world’s biggest polluter, and the biggest contributor to climate breakdown.

How much power do you think it takes to run 27 dishes of a radar so powerful and large that nothing like it has ever been seen in the UK, let alone in a residential area? You’d be right if your guess was a lot.

But how much carbon impact for something that has to be operating 24/7, even when the national grid goes down? Consider first the fact that the US military’s scoping report says that ‘Back up power generation is considered likely.’

And then consider the fact that it says just the associated fuel farm would need to have a capacity of an astonishing ‘approximately 160,000 gallons of diesel fuel, in double bunded above-ground tanks.’5

Alright. DARC sounds terrible. But surely the companies involved in building DARC wouldn’t be the kind of people who would fail to diligently take into account all the risks, right…?

Let's have a quick look at their track records. You just couldn't make this stuff up.

Northrop Grumman, the US arms company that makes DARC, seems to leave a trail of accusations of negligence behind it everywhere it goes. The Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) it worked on in 2012, for example, was found by a Director, Operational Test and Evaluation to be ‘neither mature nor stable.’6 Or there was the time it was sued for knowingly giving the Navy defective aircraft, an accusation so well-founded that the company had to spend $325 million on the second largest settlement involving defence contractor fraud ever paid.7 Or there was that other time it was investigated by the US Government in a $100 million fraud probe.8

Then there’s Stantec and Ove Arup, companies that provided data for Sweco’s scoping report about DARC in Pembrokeshire for the US military and the MOD. Stantec was sued by the City of Winnipeg for what the City claimed was ‘negligent’ engineering work in its Sturgeon Creek Bridge design, where an earth wall that was to support the bridge structure and road surface on the riverbank completely collapsed.9 Or there was the backlash after it was involved in controversially developing a major cruise ship site next to the second-oldest community in British Columbia.10 Meanwhile, Ove Arup is a company that was accused in court of negligence in failing to identify and report large quantities of asbestos in a regeneration project.11

And that’s before we get to the US military itself, which hardly needs an introduction. 800 active military operations led by the US around the world and no peace or security in any of them so far,12 and, according to what the Hague just ruled, a quite plausible genocide underway in Palestine,13 paid for almost completely with US money14—has there ever been an empire that has cared less about the consequences of its actions for local people, anywhere in the world?

Try and think of many more than about one. We’ll wait.

Employ greedy companies accused of being slapdash, get slapdash results down the line—results that, if the records of these companies are the norm, shows every sign they’re more than used to riding roughshod over anyone who lets them get away with it.

Whew. You’re hanging in there. Great job.

If you’ve not yet read about DARC’s devastating impacts on public health, take a couple of minutes—if you have, let’s take a look at exactly what DARC is, why the US military thinks it needs to even be anywhere, and why it is a project so unsafe for global security that it would, if we hadn't mentioned before, make Pembrokeshire and the UK government complicit in multiple violations of international law.





But before you do, if you agree with us that the last thing Pembrokeshire tourism needs is something that will shrink our economy without providing us any benefits, and that our local and global environments matter both for ourselves and the generations to come, there is one way to fight back. And it’s exactly how we win.

Take these quick actions to back Pembrokeshire now with PARC Against DARC. Let’s make DARC history!

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References

    1. 'EIA Scoping Report: Project DARC – Cawdor Barracks', Part 2, p. 27, Sweco, 10 March 2023,
    2. 'EIA Scoping Report: Project DARC – Cawdor Barracks', Part 1, p. 75, Sweco, 10 March 2023,
    3. 'Preliminary Ecological Appraisal Report: Project DARC – Cawdor Barracks' (in Part 1 of the overall scoping report), p. 29-33, Sweco, 10 March 2023,
    4. 'EIA Scoping Report: Project DARC – Cawdor Barracks', Part 1, p. 85, Sweco, 10 March 2023,
    5. Ibid., p. 12
    6. 'Army falls behind with new anti-missile command system', Jen Judson, Defence News,
    7. 'Largest defense contractor whistleblower case: Northrop Grumman pays $325M to settle', Phillips & Cohen, April 02 2009,
    8. 'Feds accuse Northrop of fraud', Associated Press, Arizona Daily Wildcat (originally reported by the Chicago Tribune), October 31 2001,
    9. 'City of Winnipeg sues engineering firm Stantec for "negligent" Sturgeon Creek Bridge design', Jill Coubrough, CBC News, April 05 2016,
    10. 'Inside Stantec’s Culture Shift', Jody Paterson, Douglas magazine, March 19 2017,
    11. 'Negligence construction: does anything remain of Canada Steamship?', Adam Shaw-Mellors, Aston University,
    12. 'Map of the Week: Mapping the Global U.S. Military Bootprint', Ruqaiyah Zarook, Ubique (American Geographical Society), November 05 2023,
    13. 'A top U.N. court says Gaza genocide is "plausible" but does not order cease-fire', Fatima Al-Kassab, NPR, January 26 2024,
    14. 'How big is Israel’s military and how much funding does it get from the US?', Al Jazeera, 11 October 2023,