Conwy Falls

Salmon ladder at conwy falls

Conwy Falls hydro threatens rare plants.

Cymdeithas Eryri the Snowdonia Society has submitted its response to a planning application (NP4/26/323)  to develop a 5MW hydro-electric scheme at Conwy Falls and the Fairy Glen, near Betws y Coed in Snowdonia.  The development would involve construction of a weir above Conwy Falls, 1 km of rock tunnel, more than 1km of buried pipeline, buried powerhouse and road alterations on the A470(T) near Fairy Glen Hotel, Betws y Coed.

John Harold, the Snowdonia Society’s Director, says:

‘The Snowdonia Society supports renewable energy projects in the right place, but this development proposal rings alarm bells.  In our response we highlight real concerns about the scale of the development and its impacts on local people, businesses, and wildlife habitats.

Most of the disruption in the construction phase will be borne by motorists, walkers, local residents and local businesses.  The development will have short-term and long-term impacts on landscape, access, and ecology, as well as impacts on recreation user groups such as anglers and kayakers.

Balanced against that the project offers modest benefits in terms of renewable power generation, but the employment benefits across the scheme’s likely lifespan are minimal.   Snowdonia produces three times more energy than it uses; the National Park is more than pulling its weight when it comes to renewable energy generation.

But our biggest concern is that the site of the proposed development supports nationally important wildlife habitats and a whole array of rare species.  These rare plants are only found in humid wooded river gorges.  Such places are special to Snowdonia and the west of Scotland – they are our very own rainforests.

The Fairy Glen is a nationally important nature conservation site.  It is ranked in the top 10 places in Wales for these rare ravine plants, and designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because it is in pristine condition.  As such this popular beauty spot is more than just a pretty place, it is a site of primary importance for delivering Snowdonia National Park’s conservation purposes.

The special plants in the Fairy Glen depend on the humidity, flow, and splash of the river. Taking several cubic metres per second of water out of the river and sending it down a pipe will change the local environment, and we may lose the special character of the Fairy Glen.

Natural Resources Wales has stated that the likelihood of damage to the flora is ‘almost impossible to quantify’.  The Snowdonia Society believes that this is a risk which is not worth taking.

 Read the full submission.