Rhaeadr y Cwm, one of Eryri’s most iconic waterfalls is threatened once again

Cwm Cynfal is a place that has inspired storytellers, artists and poets over a millenium. It is one of Eryri’s most majestic waterfalls. But now it is being threatened once again by a hydro-electric scheme that would see the river dammed and as much as 70% of the water diverted around the waterfall.

Three times already over the past thirty years plans have been submitted for a hydro-electric scheme in Cwm Cynfal. Three times they have been either refused or withdrawn. But now developers are set to make a further application and they are currently concluding a pre-application consultation which comes to an end on 24 November.

Cymdeithas Eryri Snowdonia Society is a registered charity which for over 50 years has enabled people to take an active part in caring for and protecting Eryri through a unique mix of advocacy, volunteering and practical conservation.

Now the Society has responded to the consultation, making clear that it can see little in the documents which addresses the concerns it expressed about the previous applications.

In its letter (1) the Society makes clear that its concerns focus on the intrusion into a truly stunning landscape, associated with the tales of the Mabinogion and also famously depicted by David Cox2 in 1836 in his iconic painting Rhaiadr Cwm. The Society is also worried about the visual impact of the reduction of flow in the waterfall and along this section of the river and the ecological effects of that on the rare mosses and liverworts. The site is heavily protected. It has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area.

Rory Francis, who recently took up the post of Director of the Society says: “There’s a very good reason why the three previous applications at this iconic site have been either refused or withdrawn. It would be, I hope, an unthinkable idea to divert the Afon Aber and run Rhaeadr Fawr/Aber Falls through a black plastic pipe.  It should be equally unthinkable to inflict substantial harm on the waters of Afon Cynfal which have flowed unhindered since they were woven into the words of the Mabinogion.

“We strongly support the need to decarbonise the economy, but by way of comparison, at 600kW the capacity of this scheme would be only about 8% of just one of the 7.2MW turbines at the proposed Y Bryn windfarm between Maesteg and Port Talbot.”

The pre-consultation is due to finish on Friday 24 November, but if and when a planning application is submitted, there will be an opportunity for everyone to respond.  The Society will post details on its website at www.snowdonia-society.org.uk

If you would like further information please contact Rory Francis, Snowdonia Society’s Director.  Email: director@snowdonia-society.org.uk  Telephone: 01286 685498 or 07539 322678

  1. A copy of the letter can be found Cwm Cynfal Consultation Version 3
  2. This can be viewed online at: Rhaiadr Cwm, North Wales, 1836 – David Cox – WikiArt.org
  3. Rhaeadr y Cwm is about two miles to the east of Ffestiniog at grid references SH 739 417. What3Words nametag.fixated
  4. The developer’s pre-application consultation is online here: Cwm Cynfal Hydro Scheme, PAC documents – Richards, Moorehead & Laing Ltd (rmlconsult.com)

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