Say no to hydro power on the Afon Conwy in the Snowdonia National Park

So it has happened again. RWE have resubmitted the planning application for a hydroelectric power station on the Afon Conwy. Save the Conwy has spent the last week pouring over the hundreds of pages of information. The application contains some further information deemed missing from the previous one but essentially describes the same scheme. There is no change in the size or position of the infrastructure, the power that will be produced or the amount of water taken. The application can be viewed below:

http://goo.gl/kb2Wj8

As a result Save the Conwy along with all associated groups;

Snowdonia Society, North Wales Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust, Canoe Wales, Betws y Coed Anglers / Gwydir Fisheries, Campaign for National Parks, National White Water Centre, Snowdonia Active, Plas y Brenin National Moutain Centre, BMC Cymru.

feel this application must be strongly objected to and need your help to do it. This is a brand new application and even if you objected last time and your objection letter is still valid in all its’ points it must be sent again with the new reference numbers and scheme description.

A template letter head can be found below.  Make sure you add your own name address and it is obviously only a letter head, add the details of you own objection below. The letter can be posted or emailed.

Use this letter template to object.

Please object and let the RWE know that we will not lose interest in preserving our National Park and that we will be here to fight for it however often they try. Let the National Park know that people want Snowdonia to be protected and not exploited for its’ resources and that some places are too special for any form of development.

Think about what is important to you, the community, the environment and the national park. Some topics you might want to cover:

The National Park is the wrong place for a scheme of this size:

The Snowdonia National Park set out criteria for new developments in their development plan

See http://www.eryri-npa.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/184684/ELDP-Final-6.1.12.pdf

The section on energy states

3.19 Whilst large-scale energy power generation projects are incompatible with National Park status an assessment of renewable energy in Snowdonia considered that scope might exist to contribute to reduce demand for electricity derived from fossil fuels through efficiency savings and through small-scale renewable energy developments to meet domestic or community needs. These included small-scale hydro, domestic wind turbines, photovoltaics, biomass and landfill gas.

Although the power produced by the scheme is low, set at 5MW to avoid immediate dismissal by the national park and to allow it to take advantage of very generous FIT payments meant for households and farms. The damage and infrastructure is the same as that for a much bigger scheme. A £13 million pound project by a foreign owned power giant is not a “small-scale renewable energy developments to meet domestic or community needs”. Snowdonia’s power needs are already met by the existing 82MW of installed hydro making Snowdonia a net exporter of renewable power.  From the same document:

The 20 or so hydro power stations which are located in, or use water from, Snowdonia have a combined total installed capacity of some 82 Megawatts (MW). This is far in excess of local demand and results in the area being a net exporter of electricity.

All power produced is therefore to full fill needs outside of the park, not for “domestic or community” needs

-No thought for decommissioning:

There is a legal requirement for all schemes such as this to have plans in place for decommissioning, including a financial bond set aside to finance it. RWEs statement on decommissioning is:

EIA Vol 1 5.9.5

The removal of in-river intake weir and tailrace would potentially result in more damage to the environment than leaving them in situ.  Hence, subject to the decommissioning requirements of a planning related condition, it would be prudent to make them safe and leave in-situ.

This is clearly unsuitable as the most damaging aspect of the infrastructure, the weir, is to remain in river and there is no financial bond.

-Damage to the environment:

This will occur both during operation and construction. The proposed development will affect a SSSI containing many section 42 listed species (species listed as of principle importance for conservation of biological diversity in Wales) therefore the SNPA as the planning authority have a responsibility to protect them. There is no longstanding or peer reviewed published scientific research on the effect of hydro schemes on such a site and using a pre-cautionary principle as required would suggest that this scheme should be refused.

-Loss of recreation:

Details regarding the damage to kayaking can be seen here

https://savetheconwy.com/2013/12/07/how-will-the-scheme-affect-kayaking/

The river is one of the major Salmon spawning rivers in Wales / the UK to risk damage to such an environment through reduced reach and the insertion of manmade barriers is absurd. Fishing is a major recreational pass time and creator of income for the local area, rivers on which it depends either directly or indirectly need protection.

-Damage caused to local communities during construction:

This will be the one of the largest private construction projects ever to have been built within the National Park.The scale of disturbance and damage to local communities during the construction period will be immense. Construction is proposed to last 18 to 24 months but looking at RWEs record on the Dolgarrog refurbishment it is certain to be longer. Our Planning Engineer estimates that digging the tunnel section alone will require the removal of over 6300 mof rock, equivalent to 1400 18 wheeler lorry journeys on one of the narrowest sections of the A5. This section of the A5 is used by visitors from England to visit Snowdonia and the upper works will occur at the access junction to the community of Penmachno. With large depot areas at the top and the bottom of the Fairy Glen the area will become a construction site.  How many local businesses reliant on tourism can survive 2 years of disruption?

-Limited Benefit:

There are few perceived upsides to this scheme. The level of power produced is small and variable. Using RWEs own figures the peak production of 5MW is equivalent to less than 2 modern large wind turbines and the scheme will only produce this for a maximum of 54 days a year. Due to the schemes reliance of river levels for an estimated 128 days it will produce nothing at all. It is difficult to justify the environmental cost of this scheme even in relation to fossil fuel power stations. See

https://savetheconwy.com/2015/03/28/better-than-a-power-station/

After the construction is finished (around 2 years) no significant employment is likely to be created by the scheme for the rest of its existence (the RWE scheme in Dolgarrog has run for around 90 years) and it will be run remotely from an existing RWE control centre.

RWE plan around 100m of new path to enhance the area and a short section of existing path will upgraded to provide disabled access. However an existing footpath will be used as a construction road during the building of the scheme and the area around the construction site will be closed to walkers during the construction period

robert steele

 

 

17 Responses to “New Planning Application”

  1. Martin

    Really shows no one gives a toss about our national parks……how do we stop this forever, is there a petition to sign ??

    Reply
    • savetheconwy

      Petitions don’t really work in this situation. Need to write a letter, there is a template you can download above, add your own reasons for objecting and post or email it.

      Reply
      • Nicki

        The beauty and ecology of North Wales has already been damaged by reservoirs and excavation. Beauty and the importance of this area to wildlife and flora can never be replaced. Hydro schemes do not have to be built here – consider larger areas and those already spoilt by man like the thames with its barrier and also consider harnessing the power of the sea. The application has already been rejected once and that should be end of story.What you gain with your dam, you will lose in tourism……..just leave nature to be and thrive…PLEASE

  2. Martin Barlow

    It’s important that objections must be on planning grounds, such as those given at the end of the above, otherwise they will not be taken into account. It’s no good just saying you don’t like it or that it will spoil Snowdonia, you have to give specific planning reasons (environment, visual impact, effect on tourism/recreation, etc). And don’t forget that the scheme will necessarily require a connection to a substation – RWE will normally keep quiet about that for the time being.

    Reply
  3. Michele Connery

    I visited recently and totally fell in love with the beauty of Snowdonia. The Fairy Falls took my breath away and I returned telling everyone of it. I cannot believe this area of Natural Beauty is even being considered for such a thing. I was so taken with Conwy that I am looking to move there to enjoy the beauty whenever I can. This is so wrong.

    Reply
  4. J.Attard

    There is no need for this. What we need is solar power and wind power installations in each home not hydroelectric. We do not want the beautiful Snowdonia National Park blighted for ever by any more man made structures plus it will destroy natural habitats and kill off or displace wild life.
    Bottom line is someone somewhere makes a lot of money if this goes ahead but no one here will really benefit in the long run just like all the wind turbines. Half are hardly used even when it’s windy and we see no cut in our bills. STOP THE GREED! STOP THIS NOW!

    Reply
  5. ceri leeder

    Can you make it much more clear how we are to object..?..to the layman the process can be obscure and the first couple of times on your website I missed the template….Easy clear instructions on who to write to and by when would be greatly appreciated…..For example at least give the name and address:-
    Mr Richard Thomas
    Snowdonia National Park Authority
    National Park Offices
    Penrhyndeudraeth
    Gwynedd
    LL48 6LF  
    and encourage people to look at your page to word their complaints in the best way…..  

    Reply
  6. David

    It was easy to cut and paste the template – put in my objections and email Mr Thomas. It took 10 minutes.

    Reply
  7. Richard Martin

    To put the power output even further into perspective:

    If it were possible to maintain the maximum output of 5MW for one year then 43,800MWh would be produced.

    RWE are estimating 13,000MWh per year, which is less than one third of the maximum output.

    This means that the average power output over a period of time will be 0.3 x 5 = 1.5MW.

    Compare this with the average demand for the UK, which is about 35,000MW and you can see that the Conwy hydro scheme’s contribution amounts to no more than approximately 0.004% of the UK’s electricity demand, almost insignificant in terms of power generation and CO2 reduction.

    Reply

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