In my last post I considered the information that the Snowdonia Society is using to brief its members on the issues that underlie their campaign to prevent Kemble Air Services taking over Llanbedr Airfield. The statement on their campaign webpage is very short, and gives the impression that a major new development within the Snowdonia National Park is about to take place. In fact Kemble Air Services aviation plans involve no more than the resumption of flying operations, after a gap of just four years in the airfield’s busy 70-year history, on what will probably be a greatly reduced scale.

Now I want to look at the links on this page to press coverage of the society’s campaign. The obvious intention of these is to inform members and other visitors about what is going on.

Here is a selection of headlines on these linked pages:

Park airport ‘pollution threat’BBC 14/04/2008

Airport ‘will ruin’ national park BBC 07/05/2008

North Wales airport plans spark concern Daily Post 15/04/2008

Threat to Snowdonia Guardian 06/04/2008

Anger over plan for commercial flights at wartime airfield near Snowdonia Independent 07/05/2008

Airstrip could give Wales Grand Canyon-style Snowdonia flights Western Mail 08/05/2008

Airfield probe call Daily Post 08/05/2008

It is evident from these that the Snowdonia Society has mounted a very slick and successful media campaign. All these articles tell the story from the campaigner’s point of view, giving the impression that Kemble’s proposals will shatter the calm of the national park, destroy its tourist industry and wreck ‘the environment’. The views of people who are familiar with the area and are aware of the modest plans for reopening a once busy airfield are not represented. All the articles rely heavily on a degree of speculation which might reasonably be described as scare stories.

A note at the bottom of the campaign page says that, ‘This page will be updated as the campaign progresses – please call back’, and the most recent update seems to have taken place at the beginning of this weekend. It is strange therefore that the link to the article in the Daily Post headlined ‘Airfield probe call’ has not been deleted or qualified. It trumpets the support that the leader of the Conservative Party in the Welsh Assembly is giving to the society’s campaign, but last week the Cambrian News reported that he has now backtracked on this and is no longer opposing the project.

For the last ten days I have been trying to persuade the Snowdonia Society, of which I am a long-standing member, to add a link that is conspicuously missing. An article announcing the Assembly Government’s decision to lease the Airfield to Kemble was published in the Daily Post on 26th February 2008. This gives a clear and factual description of what is likely to happen at the airfield, which is in sharp contrast to the alarmism and speculation of the other stories. I have been unable either to persuade the society to include this link or to provide me with a reason for not doing so.

At the same time I have asked them to provide a link to an article that I have posted here, so that members can see that there is a point of view among locals that is quite different to the one that the society is promoting. Again I have been unable to obtain a substantive response and the link has not been added. It would seem that the Snowdonia Society are more concerned with influencing public opinion, by means of their media campaign, than representing the views of people who live in the national park and will be most directly affected by what happens at Llanbedr.

There are a number of other links on the campaign page but, with one exception, local opposition to their campaign is either ignored or only mentioned in passing. It is very disturbing that the society is unwilling to expose its membership to sources of information other than those it has carefully selected, but it is not surprising. Anyone with local knowledge who is prepared to take a fair-minded, objective and well-informed view of what they are doing is likely to be horrified.

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