Last week all 7 hydro schemes in Glen Etive were approved for planning permission. There’s a final chance to stop these schemes, thanks to a motion tabled by Cllr Andrew Baxter.
You may remember that Dan Butler wrote to the Snowdonia National Park Planners highlighting the sources of a large number of the letters of support that they had received included RWE, the company proposing the scheme, and Dulas, the company putting together the proposals for them.
Since Dan’s letter to planners, we have learnt that a number of the letters to the planners came from individuals that did not make an effort to make their role in the companies clear. We have also established that a significant proportion of the support came from outside Wales, and that most of the submissions from RWE employees used what appeared to be a standard letter as their basis. We have also learnt that the number of letters of objection now totals over 800, with objections coming from both locally and farther afield.
Letter by e-mail to Mr. D. Butler (10.12.15) – SNP Response
The SNP response is worrying, not just for the Conwy, but for the future safety of the National Park.They don’t appear to have the resources to effectively look at any volume of correspondence, and so are apparently happy to just leave the issue as it is, rather than stir up something with a developer. Is this the first time this has happened? What other schemes have been put though across the National Park based on letters from the very people putting them forward? If the proposed scheme is so good, shouldn’t the application speak for itself?
We are grateful to Janet Finch-Saunders AM for entering into some correspondence with Snowdonia National Park Authority on our behalf. This was circulated to the members of the planning committee and is shown below.
With this level of objection, how can Snowdonia National Park allow this scheme to proceed?
Aberconwy AM Janet Finch-Saunders has been busy tabling questions for her constituents to Carl Sargeant AM. Mr Sargeant is the Minister for Natural Resources. The correspondence is given below, and there are copies of each question for download given at the end, along with part of Natural Resources Wales’ Remit and the responsibilities, as stated by them.
Carl Sargeant states that NRW do not consider tourism or recreation, but in their own statement, taken from here they are considering the effect to lawful water users, which we must assume includes recreational users both local and “tourist” in nature.
Clarity is needed on this issue, especially as the Conwy has been declared to be an issue of “High Public Importance”.
The window for objections to the abstraction licence closes soon. All objections need to be in by the 4th Dec. If you have already objected to NRW (this is separate to the planning objection) then great. If not here is what to do.
Want to write your own submissions:
The guidelines for objecting are shown here
see our NRW submission below for ideas , also guidance from the Snowdonia Society here:
start with the text:
RWE Innogy UK Limited for a full licence to abstract water from the Afon Conwy near Betws-y-Coed, Conwy at National Grid Reference SH 81139 53409
Ref N# WPCC3508 and WPCC3510
I am writing to object to the proposed applications.
and email to:
Want a bit more help. Use our completed template below, add your own comments and name / address then email to the above address.
Remember however you do it , it needs to be sent by the 4th Dec . 2 days !
Canoe Wales have released a statement following news coverage in the North Wales Weekly News.
“Contrary to reports by RWE Canoe Wales do not support building a weir above Penmachno Bridge and have made representations to Snowdonia National Park Authority and Natural Resources Wales including expert analysis, stating that a weir immediately above this dangerous section of whitewater would be an added risk to paddlers and increase the likelihood of further serious incidents at this location.”
The full statement can be found at http://www.canoewales.com/proposed-conwy-hydro-scheme
In recent weeks Save the Conwy has been in contact with Janet Haworth AM, Shadow Minister for the Environment. As a local AM who has previous worked in the tourism industry she has obvious concerns about the proposed hydro scheme. She has been in contact with both the National Park and NRW and has been raising the issue with fellow Ministers. Her latest press release is below:
As one of the North Wales Regional Assembly members and shadow minister for the Environment I acknowledge that we face significant challenges in the face of climate change and the need to ensure the security of the supply of energy
Those same Victorians who transformed Britain into the fulcrum of the Industrial Revolution knew Conwy Falls and came to find peace and to reconnect with Nature away from the frenzied life amongst the Dark Satanic Mills.
Today the café and car park have become something of a tourist hub attracting visitors en-route into Snowdonia. There are mountain bike tracks and a High Ropes activity centre nearby. A recent attraction, ‘Go Below’ has its base at this location. During my visit on a cold November day I met photographers, hikers and a kayaker. testament to the increasing all year round tourism business that is growing year on year here in North Wales.
The argument that carbon emissions must be reduced packs a punch but the Welsh Tourism Industry also packs a punch supporting thousands of jobs and attracting billions of pounds into the Welsh economy.
Arguments to exploit our countryside for commercial gain and the need to conserve our treasured and outstanding landscapes have until recently achieved some sense of balance within the establishment of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and SSi site designations
We are losing natural habitats at an alarming rate. This has been highlighted recently at an event hosted at the Welsh Assembly by the Environment Committee.
RWE’s proposal to erect a weir to generate hydropower within the Snowdonia National Park will locate an alien and industrial structure at Conwy Falls. I have studied the plans and attempts to adapt and mitigate with,’soft engineering techniques,’ appeared cursory.
The promise of clean renewable electricity will be modest while the long-term income from this project will of course be welcomed by the promoters and investors.
I have to ask would the RWE engineering company promoting this proposal get away with locating this plant within the beauty spots of the Bavarian mountains and forests?
Only 25% of our Welsh countryside enjoys protected status I know why places such as Conwy Falls are amongst our national treasures as do the 4000 + who have signed the petition against this plan and the various environmental agencies who have along with the Snowdonia Society raised their voices in protest.
Below are Save the Conwy’s representations to Natural Resources Wales, in full as PDF documents. Each link will download or open the document.
Dear Sir/ Madam
Application Ref: NP4/26/323
Registration Date: 23-Apr-2015
Dear Mr Lloyd
We are writing this open letter to you in your capacity as Head of Development Management for the Snowdonia National Park. As you will know from our earlier objection letter we are opposed to the proposed Hydro Scheme on the River Conwy.
Earlier, through the online petition (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-damming-of-the-river-conwy) we became aware that a manager at Dulas Ltd (one of the contractors involved in the bid) was trying to influence public opinion through leaving a comment on the petition. If you haven’t seen it we have included a screenshot of the comment below, with a link to the page it was on, as an appendix to our letter. As this individual had failed to provide any information of his interest from a commercial point of view while making his comments, this led us to wondering if there had been other instances of this during the planning application phase.
We were helpfully assisted by your planning department who gave the names of all those who had written to you in support of the scheme, and have spent some time looking them up on LinkedIn. For your information we have included the list below, along with the positions they hold either in either RWE or Dulas Ltd.
There are others on the list that can also be traced back to either of those companies, or have been contracted by them to assist in their application. All of this information, along with the links for verification is below.
List of those who have written to the park in support of the Project:
Vince Read (Head of Hydro at RWE)
Paul Bellis (Health and Safety adviser Hydro UK at RWE)
Duncan Morrison (Senior Hydro Project Manager at RWE Npower Renewables)
Tina Watson (Hydro Procurement manager at RWE)
Oliver Wilson (Commercial analysis for RWE)
Rebecca Rankine (Assistant project manager at RWE)
Oliver White (Operations Engineer at RWE)
Sarah Ostermann (No linkedIn profile, but works for RWE as a Project Manager)
Link leads to a German Language page, but translates perfectly with Google translate
M (Matt) Palmer (No LinkedIn Profile, but is a Senior Hydro Engineer, Dulas Ltd)
Catherine McLennan (Customer Sales and Marketing at Dulas Ltd)
Rachel Harper Bit cheeky this one – maybe used her pre/post married name – Rachel Kennedy (who comes up when you search for Rachel Harper on linkedin) is a senior at Dulas Ltd
Laura Hiscox (Communications co-coordinator at Dulas Ltd)
Elfed Williams (Not directly linked to Dulas, but has a history of applying pressure in applications where there is a lot of support against the scheme – see his LinkedIn page for more information)
We would like to ask you to consider the following points when reviewing their letters of support for the application:
1: They work for Dulas Ltd or RWE, or have could have been contracted by them.
2: It is unclear whether they have set out in their letters that they work for either of the above companies or have declared their apparent professional interest.
3: When people write in support of projects in which their employers have a vested interest, it is very difficult to know what influence (proper or improper, direct or indirect) has been put on them to write.
4: I would suggest this leads to a natural conclusion that these particular letters of support require treating with an appropriate amount of caution, as it seems clear that their provenance is in doubt.
We trust that you will see the seriousness of the situation, and ask that you provide assurances that this information is acted upon with the utmost urgency.
Representative of Save the Conwy
Tomorrow afternoon you can drop-in to the Waterloo Hotel in Betws Y Coed (just along from the petrol station) from 3pm until 7pm and speak to representatives from Natural Resources Wales about the proposed scheme.
NRW have made it abundantly clear that they don’t care about your opinion, only facts, so here’s some topics to think about if you are popping in…
“In making our determination, we will consider all relevant information submitted to us. Amongst the issues we consider when reaching our decision are:
the environmental effects of the abstraction and impoundment and their impact on designated sites, the biological and/or geological features of interest they support, and on protected species and habitats”
The area is a SSSI and within the National Park – why has it been chosen?
“the likely effect of the proposal on the protected water rights of existing licence holders and other lawful water users”
The data shows a significant drop in the number of days the gorge will be useable by kayakers, and also the introduction of a weir is both unsightly and unsafe. The area above Conwy Falls has sadly seen a number of tragedies and near misses that would have been worsened by a man-made weir. Who is responsible if their construction kills someone?
” the reasonable requirements of the applicant for water and its efficient use”
Is 5MW an efficient use of a pristine valley?
“the sustainability of the proposal and any effects on biodiversity”
As a SSSI containing a previously uninterrupted corridor of life… why not ask about that?
However, often we receive comments on matters which are beyond the remit of our determination.
Among the issues we cannot consider are:
Future connections to the national grid
Rights of way
But by all means, you could ask about those things. Why don’t they care about cultural heritage? Why does it take 20 days to get some documents out?
See you on Thursday 12th November, Waterloo Hotel, Betws-y-Coed