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

Archive for ‘September, 2016’

There have been a large number of objectors to the scheme, and recently those from within the National Park themselves have come to light.

Senior Planner

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The Senior Planning Officer for SNPA doesn’t feel the development fulfils the Park’s duty to conserve and enhance natural beauty. Read his full report here.

 

Senior Ecologist

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The Park’s senior ecologist is all too aware of the frequency with which damage is done due to breaches of method statement. Read his full report here.

 

Tree and Woodland Officer

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The officer for Trees and Woodland also recommends the scheme be refused. Read his report here. 

 

It’s straightforward to object to the scheme. Simply email your objections to cynllunio@eryri-npa.gov.uk  referencing…

Application Ref: NP4/26/323A
Registration Date: 05-Aug-2016
Location: Afon Conwy, Betws y Coed

There is also a template available here: planning objection template 2016

It’s important to reference specific issues including environmental and visual impacts, the effect on tourism and recreation, and the loss of a wild and unspoilt river.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 23rd September.

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In common with the Senior Ecologist the National Parks Tree Officer has serious concerns about the proposed Conwy Falls HEP scheme. The problem lies with the incredibly restrictive CMS (construction method statement) the developer had proposed in order to convince the National Park that serious environmental damage will not occur.

In the environment concerned this CMS is extremely unlikely to be achievable and past experience on other hydro schemes, such as the Afon Las in Nant Peris, has caused the Tree Officer to advise the precautionary approach the National Park is meant to employ when assessing developments in protected areas.

Here is his conclusion:

The CMS needs to be rigidly adhered to otherwise serious environmental consequences could easily happen, and this element I’m extremely weary and concerned about if the application is successful. Other schemes have shown that this is the case (no compliance), and if this is a consideration then I would recommend the development is refused. 

To join the National Park Tree Officer in objecting to this scheme click the link:

Click here for how to object.

 

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The Conwy Falls HEP scheme was refused at it’s first try because the application didn’t hold enough information or visuals on the likely impact to the landscape. The weir / dam and the outflow were of particular concern. That information has been included in this latest application. 

Gareth Lloyd, Senior Planning Officer (Planning Policy Team) Snowdonia National Park, has advised the Planning Officer (Richard Thomas) on what he thinks of new application, an excerpt is below and the full document is at the bottom of the page.

I therefore fail to see how the development as proposed helps the National Park Authority to fulfil its first purpose and satisfy the requirement to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the National Park … 

Now both the Senior Ecologist and the Senior Planning Policy Officer have advised the scheme be withdrawn will the Planning Officer in charge still recommend this for approval?

Join this park expert in objecting to the development by 23rd September

How to Object

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Under section 40 of the NERC act:

(1)Every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.

This act requires the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) to take responsibility for the biodiversity affected by this planning application, this responsibility cannot be legally passed to NRW to decide (although NRW can give advice and make its’ own judgement this does not absolve the SNPA from its’ responsibility). SNPA must therefore make assessment of possible biodiversity impact using either its’ own ecologist or by requesting help of an outside organisation such as the local wildlife trust or preferably both.

Well the SNPA ecologist has now reported. You won’t find this document online, despite it being a public document it hasn’t been published with the planning application, instead you have to drive to the National Park office and wade through hundreds of pages of information to find it. This is the conclusion:

The applicant has proposed a considerable amount of mitigation through numerous design iterations to try and persuade the regulatory and consenting authorities to find the scheme acceptable. To my mind, there is a considerable amount of risk associated with this development, and a number of unknowns. It seems almost inevitable with a scheme of this magnitude and complexity that unforeseen circumstances will arise. I’m struggling to think of many HEP schemes that I’ve seen that have been constructed strictly a per submitted and agreed documentation. Experience has shown that in difficult terrain with many constraints, construction contractors and developers invariably cannot stick to all the methodologies submitted for planning approval, often with detrimental environmental consequences. I am not convinced that this application satisfies SNPA Strategic Planning Policy A (criteria i & iv), Development Policy 1 (criteria i, v & vi) nor Strategic Planning Policy D, and therefore in conclusion I object to this planning application. …..

If you want to look up the policies referenced you can find them here:

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Surely this must mean the planning officer will recommend the application is refused. Please add your voice to that of the SNPA’s ecologist and others who feel the environmental damage caused by this proposal will be to great and write to object, you have until the 23rd of September to do so, click the link for how:

How to object

The full ecologist report is shown below. Please take time to read it through, it is thoughtful, considered and by an expert in this field.

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