Recent planning decisions illustrate the need for consistent and robust protection through the planning system, as pressures for development threaten the special qualities of Snowdonia.
We welcome Snowdonia National Park Authority’s decision to refuse planning permission for a hydro scheme development in Cwm Cynfal.
The proposed hydro scheme would blight Cwm Cynfal near Llan Ffestiniog, impact the river ecology of at least 1.2km of Afon Cynfal and seriously deplete the lovely Rhaeadr y Cwm waterfall (see https://www.snowdonia-society.org.uk/a-bridge-too-far/). We objected in the strongest possible terms and alerted others to the proposal. Our objection letter is here: Cwm Cynfal hydro NP5 59 495A. This decision is welcome, though we believe the application may come back again before the subsidy window closes in March.
…and you lose some…
In stark contrast, we are bewildered by the decision to grant planning permission for the first industrial-scale poultry unit in the National Park.
The National Park Planning Committee has given the go-ahead for a huge egg production unit to be built In the south of the National Park near Llanegryn, close to dwellings and within 50m of Castell-Mawr, a Scheduled Ancient Monument. This factory will be more than 430ft in length, house 32,000 birds and produce more than 17 tonnes of nitrogen waste per year, which will be spread in the local area, within the Dysynni catchment which includes Broadwater SSSI.
Industrial units like this have nothing in common with the traditional farming which has shaped Eryri. Their outputs can pose serious threats to the environment, and as an intensive form of land-use they would fail many tests of environmental sustainability. The risks they pose can be acute in the form of pollution incidents – or chronic and widespread, as diffuse aerial (ammonia) and groundwater (nitrate) pollution across a catchment.
Responsibility for this decision is shared between the National Park and Natural Resources Wales, who should reflect on how this decision reflects the statutory purposes of the National Park. Perhaps of most concern is the role of Welsh Government, which ruled that the proposal did not require an Environmental Impact Assessment. There are a number of issues with the Welsh Government screening decision, not least of which is the assertion that the development ‘…is not sited in a particularly environmentally sensitive or vulnerable location and is not likely to give rise to unusually complex or potentially hazardous environmental effects.’ In our view Welsh Government did not have the evidence needed to justify its decision.
The risks are clear: opening the door to developments like this may quickly compromise the distinctive beauty and environmental quality of the National Park. The rapid proliferation of large scale intensive poultry units in Powys shows how real the risk is; we will work to prevent that fate befalling Snowdonia.