Please help with this important campaign to save a special place
The threat to Conwy Falls and the Fairy Glen SSSI in Snowdonia and the campaign to save them has brought together a great diversity of organisations and individuals.
Anglers, kayakers, outdoor activities and access groups, conservationists, residents, local businesses and people who love wild places and rivers have all been making their voices heard.
- We asked a sample of 18 local businesses in Betws for their view. One supported the hydro scheme, and 17 asked to be added to the list of objectors.
- We started to tell people about the scheme. Over 700 took the time to write a letter to Snowdonia National Park Authority to explain why they object.
- We started a petition; over 4,500 people have signed it to date.
We have been asking questions – lots of questions – of the National Park Authority and Natural Resources Wales. They are responding. But it should not take a campaign of this intensity and on this scale to ensure that a planning application gets scrutinised carefully – this is a SSSI in a National Park.
We think Conwy Falls and the Fairy Glen SSSI are worth saving, and we believe it can be done if enough people stand up.
We all support renewable energy schemes in the right place, but the proposal by multinational energy giant RWE to build a 5MW hydro scheme in a famous beauty spot, a nationally important SSSI conservation site, in a National Park, simply beggars belief. How did it get to the stage of a full-blown planning application? RWE has a poor track record on responsibility, routinely paying £millions in fines for breaching regulations.
Why are Conwy Falls and the Fairy Glen SSSI too important to be developed?
- Nationally important for ravine nature conservation, in top 10 sites in Wales
- Site of Special Scientific Interest
- EU Habitats Directive Annex 1 and Section 42 Oceanic Ravine habitats
- World class kayaking ‘test piece’
- Famous beauty spot attracting large numbers of visitors
- An iconic location in art and literature for 200 years
- Part of Snowdonia’s identity
- A place where you can stand as I did yesterday and feel the hairs rise on the back of your neck at the overwhelming power of something ancient, beautiful and beyond our control.
The bigger picture
We should think carefully about how we use our precious natural resources. We should acknowledge that renewables scheme developments are benign and beneficial if they are implemented in the right way and in the right place.
Put up a solar panel – the sun continues to shine. Put up a wind turbine – the wind blows as it did before.
But take too much water out of a river, run it through a pipe, and that whole section of river can be damaged and diminished. We have seen the consequences of this at RWE’s Dolgarrog hydro scheme, just down the valley from Conwy Falls, where sections of river have been run completely dry.
Wooded ravines of outstanding international importance
Many of Snowdonia’s rivers are nationally important with wooded ravines of outstanding international importance: important for fish, mammals, invertebrates, bryophytes, birds, lichens, fungi and more; important for people, access, recreation and well-being.
Right now we are not convinced they are well enough protected. We want to be sure that there is enough protection for the most important sites and the most important rivers. We are worried that NRW and local authorities seem reluctant to say no to developers. We believe they feel under pressure from Welsh Government to put facilitation of industry before their duties to protect.
Wales’ most important rivers should be fully protected from development.
We think the most important rivers should be fully protected from development. We think Carl Sargeant as Minister for Natural Resources needs to give back to NRW and Local Authorities the confidence to carry out their duties to protect our natural resources.
Snowdonia is a net exporter of renewable electricity. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be ambitious – every farm and every village could be producing solar energy from its roof surfaces for example, creating more jobs and ensuring a more equitable distribution of the benefits of renewables subsidy payments. Community led schemes of all kinds – including hydro – spread the economic benefits and create a handbrake on the temptation to break environmental regulations to boost profits. And we should support landowners who look after the rivers which pass through their land.
There are just two official tools for protecting our rivers – planning permission and water abstraction permits. We know from the high rates of overabstraction and non-compliance found by NRW in 2015 that water abstraction licenses do not protect rivers. That leaves planning permission – and public pressure – as the last line of defence .
A place like Conwy Falls and the Fairy Glen – of such value – should be protected. Surely that is central to the prupose of National Parks, SSSIs, and Natural Resources Wales?
How you can help
Please sign this petition and then share it as widely as you can.
Donate now to the Snowdonia Society – a campaign like this is greedy of our resources.
Take a look at the Snowdonia Society Facebook page to see what others are saying about the scheme.
Read more on the Save the Conwy website.
Please help us to save the Conwy Falls and Fairy Glen.
Snowdonia Society Director