Fears ancient woodland will be lost forever
ACENTURIES-OLD woodland described as “irreplaceable” at an iconic North Wales beauty spot is under threat.
It is understood that if plans go ahead for a £12m hydro-electric scheme on the River Conwy at Fairy Glen, near Betws-y-Coed, then about half an acre of important woodland will be destroyed.
Now Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust, has joined objectors in calling on the Snowdonia National Park Authority to reject the proposals by RWE Innogy.
The company revealed its plans three years ago and the authority has been carrying out a consultation exercise before considering the matter.
The scheme would involve abstracting water from the river above Penmachno bridge and diverting it through 1,000 metres of pipeline around the Fairy Glen before returning it to the river near the junction with the River Lledr.
It would have a capacity of up to five megawatts and be capable of generating up to 13,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year – enough to supply the average requirements of over 2,700 households.
Canoeists have already lodged strong objections as that section of the river through Fairy Glen is regarded as a classic “testpiece” for kayakers to prove their skills.
They say the scheme will have a significant impact on the flow of the river, limiting the number of days it can be used, and they have joined a Save The Conwy campaign launched by local resi- dents.
Rory Francis, communications officer for Coed Cadw the Woodland Trust, urged people to object to the plans.
“The proposals would see ancient woodland, almost all of it recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, suffering loss and damage,” he said.
“The woodland has the highest protection possible under planning policies and when woodlands such as this, which are centuries old, are lost they cannot be replaced.”
He said they were certainly not against environmentally-friendly energy projects which were vital for combating climate change, but companies needed to be held to account to ensure that “green energy” really was green.
“There is no reason why irreplaceable habitats should be facing destruction as a result of the UK’s need to provide renewable power,” he said.
“We urge the Snowdonia National Park planning committee to say ‘no’ to the proposal and for the company involved to think again.”
An RWE spokesman said: “The project has been designed to minimise any impacts on the local environment, and includes enhancement and new planting as part of the application.
“Let’s not forget that one of the biggest threats to the environment and wildlife is climate change itself, and so it is important that we are able to deliver projects like this which make an important contribution towards tackling climate change as part of a wider low carbon energy mix.”
Kayakers on the River Conwy, in the Fairy Glen section, near the site of a proposed hydro electric scheme