Snowdonia Society Campaigns
Over the years we have run many campaigns on different aspects of the National Park. Trustees of the Society spend time examining significant planning applications in the National Park and the Society also contributes to policy consultations in a wide range of public policy areas.
We have been involved in transport issues, on the undergrounding of power cables and wildlife issues such as the future of the ponies on the Carneddau.
If there are issues you feel strongly about, or if you are aware of any other issues or planning applications on which you think the Society should be campaigning, please contact Chair of the Policy Sub-Committee, David Lewis, on email@example.com or via the Snowdonia Society office.
(Image: Llanbedr airfield)
CAMPAIGNS October 2012
The Snowdonia Society continues to campaign for appropriate development in the National Park. Since 2009 we have raised concerns about proposals for the former military airfield at Llanbedr, and in 2012 objected to a planning application for the site on the basis that there had been no environmental impact assessment of the controversial proposal for the site to become a recycling facility for large aeroplanes, and insufficient information had been provided about various issues including the number of aircraft movements and the potential for employment opportunities for local residents. Unfortunately planning permission has since been granted and we must now await further developments.
Applications for renewable energy schemes and associated infrastructure also continue to present challenges to the planning authorities. While we have objected to certain inappropriate windfarm developments on the fringes of the National Park, we are supportive of a new exemplar hydropower scheme under development at Plas Tan y Bwlch and the work that the National Trust is carrying out to develop community renewable energy schemes around the Park. We hope that in future our communities will become more sustainable and energy efficient, while also preserving the aesthetic and heritage that it so important to the region.
A big achievement for the Society in summer 2012 has been the successful piloting of a new programme of volunteering work at our unique property Ty Hyll right in the centre of the National Park. For the last three months we have run a series of volunteer conservation work days focusing on opportunities for disadvantaged and unemployed volunteers, including those seeking experience to take into employment, young people on community payback schemes with the probation service and individuals recovering from addiction. We have been delighted by the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the volunteers, who in turn have relished the opportunity to spend time in such a lovely location developing skills which will benefit them into the future.
More so than ever before, as a small charity with limited resources we continue to rely on the support and involvement of our committed members and volunteers to ensure we can continue to protect and enhance the National Park long into the future.
Despite the multitude of activities occupying staff and Trustees, including conservation volunteering, a wide variety of events within the Park and exciting developments at Tŷ Hyll, the Society has not forgotten its core values and continues to campaign to protect the National Park while supporting appropriate development.
We are pleased to note that, as we had advocated, Snowdonia National Park Authority has produced a draft Recreation Strategy structured around various themes: protecting special qualities and tranquility; climate change; sense of place; access for all; appropriate infrastructure; health and well being; delivering economic benefit; partnership working; and integration and quality. While the principles behind the strategy are welcome, the Society is concerned that the current draft may not be sufficient to encourage development of outdoor activities and recreation in ways that will boost the local economy without damaging the special qualities of Eryri. Following the consultation period (due to begin shortly), a great deal of work will be required to ensure this is an effective long-term strategy for the Park.
Also welcome is the Park Authority's intention to produce supplementary planning guidance on renewable energy to help future decision making. While the Society supports the development of small-scale renewable energy schemes, we must remain vigilant about landscape and environmental impacts.
Supplementary planning guidance on ‘-Landscapes of Eryri' to support the Eryri Local Development Plan has been drafted and published for consultation. The Society has identified serious shortcomings in this and suggested ways of remedying them. We look forward to seeing the final document, which has the potential to protect and enhance the landscapes of Snowdonia now and in the future.
The Society has long taken an interest in proposals for the former Llanbedr airfield. A certificate of lawful use was granted by Snowdonia National Park Authority in July 2011 for use of the site for research and development into unmanned aerial vehicles. In a recent development the Welsh Government has signified its intention to proceed with leasing the site to Kemble Air Services, as originally proposed. However, Kemble have still failed to give any information about their plans for the site (including the number of jobs that will be created for local people), nor at the time of writing have they taken any steps to make the buildings on the site available for local businesses.
St David's Hotel, Harlech
Also in the Ardudwy area, the Society regrets that there has been no progress towards construction of the new St David's Hotel in Harlech, which we expect to be a considerable boost to the local economy. The current building is derelict and a major eyesore.
Loss of ancient oak woodland
Finally, despite the Society's considerable efforts, the Minister has refused to consider an alternative line for part of the A470 road improvement between Cross Foxes and Gelligemlyn south of Dolgellau. This would have significantly reduced the loss of ancient oak woodland. In January 2012 we received notice that the scheme was to proceed despite objections from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, Campaign for National Parks, North Wales Wildlife Trust, the Woodland Trust and Plantlife, as well as the Society and a number of individuals.
Monitoring future proposals
The Policy Sub-Committee will continue to monitor proposals from the National Park Authority and Welsh Government, especially planning policy reviews taking place at national level and consultation on a new National Parks Policy Statement expected later this year. We await consultation on the options for power transmission from the proposed new nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey. Members can be assured that we will do all we can to promote options which will not impact on the spectacular landscapes of the National Park.
April 2012 update
PROPOSED TRAWSFYNYDD LOCAL ENTERPRISE ZONE
Snowdonia National Park contains the most inspiring and exciting landscape in Wales. The attraction this provides for 6 million visitors a year brings an estimated £60 million annually to Wales, and there is the potential to increase that amount considerably. At the moment, however, that is not sufficient to prevent Meirionnydd, which includes the greater part of the National Park, having the lowest average earnings in the UK. There is also the prospect of a major loss of employment and income when the first phase of decommissioning Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station is completed in 2016.
Cymdeithas Eryri Snowdonia Society therefore welcomes the interest the government is now taking in measures to increase economic activity in Meirionnydd, in particular by examining the possibility of designating the Trawsfynydd site as a local enterprise zone. If this makes available enhanced capital allowances and relief from business rates it could, in combination with the site’s inherent advantages, give a considerable boost to the local economy. We welcome the emphasis that has been placed on attracting firms in the digital, data, renewable energy and low carbon industries. We also welcome the suggestion that the disused railway line from Blaenau Ffestiniog should be reopened, not only as facilitating industrial development but as a significant step towards creating a sustainable transport system in Snowdonia.
One exciting initiative has already been taken by setting up the Snowdonia Data Park website. It is clear from this, and from other publicity already given to the proposed enterprise zone, that one of the major attractions for companies considering setting up operations at Trawsfynydd will be its location in the Snowdonia National Park. It will be vital, therefore, that future development of the site proceeds in a way which does not damage the special qualities that have led to designation of the area as a National Park or threaten its continued international recognition as a protected landscape, or threaten the tourism which is the area’s major industry.
The proposal put to the Welsh Government in December by Gwynedd County Council on behalf of the Trawsfynydd Transition Oversight Board did not incorporate a Local Development Order or equivalent to remove planning controls at the site. It acknowledged the important role of the local planning authority (the Snowdonia National Park Authority), and proposed a flexible and appropriate procedure in the form of preparation of a planning brief. Cymdeithas Eryri Snowdonia Society has sought confirmation from the Welsh Government that it supports that approach and recognises how important it will be, in view of the particular sensitivity of this site, that there should be public consultation about the contents of the planning brief.