Fears an­cient wood­land will be lost for­ever

North Wales Weekly News - - NEWS -

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

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