The German company RWE NPower, in association with Dulas (a North Wales renewable energy consultants) planned to dam and divert up to 80% of the flow above a minute compensation rate of the Afon Conwy above Conwy Falls for the purposes of small scale hydroelectric power generation. The Afon Conwy represents the jewel in the crown of North Wales’ wild mountain rivers, boasting numerous Site Special Scientific Interests (SSSIs) sites along its banks. The Conwy Valley is a beautiful largely unspoiled area and much of the river lies within the Snowdonia National Park.
Thanks to a coordinated and sustained effort, the river remains undamaged, for now. For the latest news, please take a look at our blog, and to keep in touch, sign up to the newsletter.
We believe …
- This project should not be allowed to continue further.
- Alternative means and locations for generating energy should be found among already heavily industrialised sections of river within the North Wales area.
- The Afon Conwy’s intrinsic natural value is far greater than the potential benefit of a high environmental impact – low energy output industrial scheme.
- The damage to community, environment and local businesses are too great a cost for such a limited project.
Save the Conwy intends to raise support and lobby key stakeholders and local people to defeat the project in order to prevent the unique environment of the Afon Conwy being ruined forever.
While supportive of the wider aims of renewable energy development, Save the Conwy is opposed to this specific project on the following grounds:
Environmental damage & why we should value the Conwy’s ecosystem
The most seriously affected area of the Afon Conwy is also one of Wales’ most pristine and wild sections of river. Whilst other areas of the National Park are heavily managed, the “Fairy Glen” gorge remains wild and almost untouched. Modification of the river’s flow would mean an end to this wilderness status with a largely unknown impact on many indigenous species. The RWE’s proposed environmental safeguards are insufficient, with any modification in flow liable to affect natural sediment movement of the river. Construction work will damage an ancient woodland , and have a bad effect on local flora and fauna.
Snowdonia was the first of Wales’s national parks and the Afon Conwy is a significant part. The heavy construction work required for a project of this size will detract from the landscape, making the area less attractive for tourists, and has potentially wider consequences for local flora and fauna.
Disruption to local communities and businesses
North Wales is reliant upon the A5 as a key route for both local traffic and tourists travelling to the area. The increased industrial traffic on the A5 and other key routes within the National Park will cause a bottleneck of traffic near the Victoria bridge and Conwy Falls turnings, discouraging tourists and severely disrupting local businesses reliant on these visitors.
Loss of recreation & community
The wild and largely unmodified river currently provides a significant draw to the area for tourists looking to enjoy adventure sports, fishing or wilderness walks along its banks. The river, and specifically the “Fairy Glen” section of the Afon Conwy, currently provides a world class environment for adventure recreation such as canoeing & kayaking, along with superb fishing and a truly magical venue for photographers and naturalists. Proposed reductions to flow would significantly limit the recreational activities taking place on the Conwy, all of which have a low environmental impact. In addition, the flow reductions would negatively affect picturesque qualities of the Conwy’s most beautiful section.
Losses to tourism
Save the Conwy is concerned that, should the National Park support the scheme the wrong message will be broadcast; that Snowdonia is open for re-industrialisation and power generation on it major waterways. Save the Conwy is also concerned that such schemes are solely for the profit of foreign investors and large landowners and ignore the interests of local people reliant on tourism for their living.