Afon Cynfal and Rhaeadr y Cwm Threatened by Hydro Development.

By 20th December 2019May 27th, 2020Save Cwm Cynfal

UPDATE 24th March 2020

The Afon Cynfal is safe for now. 

The Snowdonia National Park Authority have placed the application for the Cwm Cynfal hydro scheme on hold. The planning department rightly decided that the application submitted was inadequate for such a potentially damaging development. A full EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) has been requested, we are unsure on whether the developer will complete this, and if they do when it will be submitted.

Many thanks to everyone who has written an objection to this inappropriate development. If the developer submits the EIA there will be a further chance to comment. We will let you know at that time.

Cwm Cynfal is one of the wildest and most inspiring landscapes within Snowdonia and indeed the UK. Towering waterfalls cascade from the bleak beauty of the Migneint Special Area of Conservation into the Afon Cynfal Site of Special Scientific Interest. This unique place has a history of inspiring those that visit from the ancient tales of the Mabinogi to the contemporary walkers of the Snowdonia Slate Trail.


This wild river has in recent years attracted the attention of hydro developers, those keen to extract the power of these falls and degrade this landscape for profit.

The first application in the 1990s was eventually abandoned. Then last year a coalition of concerned NGOs including Save Our Rivers and the Snowdonia Society successfully objected to a new proposal. This latest developer has now returned with a revised application, which although less visually intrusive has even greater ecological concerns.

Full details of the application can be seen here:

Save Our Rivers Main Concerns:

Small scale hydroschemes produce insignificantly small amounts of power for disproportional environmental and landscape impact. This schemes maximum installed capacity is 600kw (60 people taking a shower) around 1/13th of a modern offshore wind turbine, such as those sited within view of the North Wales Coast.

In fact the last 90 hydroschemes permitted by Snowdonia National Park Authority, all added together contribute less to power production than 1 single large offshore windturbine . See more about our concerns for small scale hydro here.

Schemes such as this also lead to fragmentation of a free-flowing river. Only 1% of all rivers in the UK are currently free from artificial barriers and, thanks to the recent spate of hydro development in Snowdonia, few remain free flowing within the National Park.

The Cynfal is one of these 1%, a rarity that is worth preserving.

The impact of the pipeline on both the landscape and the ecology of the area. The pipeline construction involves cutting a 3.6m working corridor across a river side bog, across a steep hill side under the Slate Trail footpath and through the bed of the Afon Cynfal itself. Other impacts of the pipeline include a 4m by 3.6m cutting through the bed rock of a hill and 3 separate construction compounds.

Save Ours Rivers has real concerns around the possibility of a pollution incident damaging to the Afon Cynfal SSSI just downstream of the development. Either sediment from the trenching of the pipeline, or from oil/diesel from the heavy machinery fording the river.

Objection Letter PDF

You can read the Snowdonia Society’s concerns about this recent application here: 

You can see our objection letter below for a detailed list of our objections.

Objection letter PDF

Please act now to help safeguard this special place.

Download the template letter below, fill in your reasons for objection, feel free to use our letter as a guide.

Template letter

Then email to:

Subject: NP5/59/495B – Objection