The Afon Las Hydro Scheme is a small scheme built in a beautiful part of the Llanberis Pass, one of the most iconic mountain passes in the UK. Part of the scheme lies within a SAC / SSSI . The SAC(Special Area of Conservation) status should afford this site one of the highest levels of environmental protection, it’s general location should afford it the highest level of landscape protection. In Save the Conwy’s opinion sites like this should be protected from all development but that however is not the point of this piece.
The scheme was applied for in April 2014 with North Wales Hydro Power Ltd as the contractor. A detailed CMS (construction method statement) was included in the application including many points designed to protect the site such as; heli-dropping all materials to the top, hand cutting and air digging the trench around trees and the felling of only 5 trees during the construction. The application was handled by guess who? That’s right Richard Thomas, our favourite planning officer, the one who original recommended the Conwy Falls scheme for approval. The scheme was rubber-stamped, it wasn’t even sent for the planning committee to consider. NRW also granted the abstraction licence.
Work started and evidently continued unchecked (despite the sensitive nature of the location) with no oversight from either NRW or SNPA . Then on the 4th of May a pollution incident occurred, machinery driving through the stream bed had diverted the flow down the access track leading to silt flooding down the stream, the Nant Peris and all the way to Llyn Padarn. After many complaints to the SNPA instigated by the Snowdonia Society a stop notice was eventually handed out.
The developer has now applied for a change in the planning conditions. The application makes for grim reading. It shows the original scheme was applied for with a completely undeliverable CMS that the developer had no intention of following. One that was built in the cheapest and easiest way possible ignoring environmental damage and the conditions under which it was granted. If the pollution incident had not occurred this total disregard for the environment and the SNPA would have continued until the project was completed.
The altered CMS that is now being applied for can be seen here:
To summarise it’s statements:
- We cut down loads of trees (25) in and around the SAC/SSSI that we weren’t allowed to, so are now are applying for permission to do that.
- We applied originally to helicopter all the stuff to the top of the site but that was going to be really expensive so we built an access road through the SAC/SSSI that we weren’t allowed to so are applying for permission to do that.
- We applied originally to hand dig the trench through woodland to avoid damage to tree roots but that was going to be reeeeeally hard work so we are applying for permission to excavate the trench with machinery now. Oh by the way we have already done that as well.
Planning application is here:
The amendment is open to objections for the next 2 weeks or so. Please open the link above, click on the comments tab on the planning website and object to this re-application.
The right thing to do would be fine the developer, stop the works, remove any infrastructure already in-place and as best as possible restore the site. Anything else gives developers a green light to completely ignore planning conditions and do as they will. Anything else shows the SNPA to be impotent to it’s ability to control development in the truly special places under it’s care.
Just imagine if RWE felt it had a free reign to construct the Conwy Falls scheme in the cheapest possible way and just apply in retrospect for any damage done.
Do not allow this destruction and abuse of power. Blatant disregard for rules and the law. Blatant disregard for the environment and SSA/SSSI.
Absolutely disgraceful conduct on behalf of the developer and Conwy council…The developer should be prosecuted for criminal damage, fined and forced to pay damages.
This is disgusting. I strongly object to this re-application. Rules must be followed to protect the landscape.
I.objext to the works being carried out and planning permission being granted to these people, it’s too late to apply.for retrospective planning permission if the works already destroyed one of the nicest places in Wales, they are nothing more than criminals
I object to the planning permission for this ‘project’ and am disgusted by what has occurred here. This is a crime and should be punishable.
All too often developers are confident they can just literally bulldozer planning guidelines and get away with it with retro applications. Gwynedd council must operate a level playing field. I object in the strongest possible terms to the national park being vandalised like this. An individual would never get away with it. We must protect north Wales greatest asset. Development is possible, if sensitively done. This is criminal.
I object to this retrospective application. There has to be some way to hold the company responsible for the harm it has caused.
I used to live in Llanberis but am now in Canada and deal with Environmental Assessments here. The statement that heavy equipment drove through the stream would have been enough to put any of our projects on hold, initiate an incident/investigation and potential fines.
This is an outrage. I object in the strongest terms to this blatant disregard of planning and environmental standards. How dare these people?
Total disregard for the National park and such a sensitive area. As seen in the pictures, water-logging and over saturation of the existing landscape has occured damaging soil structure and possibly causing landslip/shearing in the near future. Any plant on site should have been fully waterproofed and sealed also only using harmless bio oils and grease rather than petroleum based. Based on this the complete total disregard for the previous planning and build statements I must object being a person who’s homeland is being desecrated for individual profit and not the good of the local community. Also he high likelihood that the developer will not adhere to subsequent rules.
Don’t let these cowboys get away Scot-free for causing this damage to our beautiful landscape. Absolutely disgusting.
I object to this application
This is a clear cut case of a civil servant taking back handers from big company’s. It really makes me sick. The sad thing is that even with the general public against this, the company will eventually get away with doing whatever the hell they like. And there’s me carrying my rubbish around with me when I go out in the hills, maybe I should pay off a civil servant so I can just dump my rubbish anywhere I like! (Sarcasm)
This is horrific – developers all over England and Wales now believe that once they have an ok if… That they can then just do what they like and once the damage is done they can apply for permission in retrospect !!! What will it take to say no and mean no – if they continue like this we will have no countryside or wildlife left – a sterile world is that what you want ??? Stop this now while there’s still time – save Conway – save Wales save our world!
I completely object.
This is disgusting, and should be stopped immediately, and the developer punished for his crimes.
Totally against the distuction…..STOP IT KNOW
I am appalled by the complete disregard for the environment and SSA/SSSI. I totally object to this scheme which appears to demonstrate a total lack of due care for the countryside in pursuit of monetary gain….
This must stop, if the council allow this they should be kicked out, they are destroying such a beautiful area
Fine them, stop the work permanently,make sure the area is restored as much as possible . I would also like to know who the landowner is.
This should never be allowed to happen again.
Anyone of authority who was supposed to be in charge of overseeing this project should be punished aswell.
It sounds to me like they need a real shake up at the appropriate planning department!
Objection lodged. I hope this company will be fined a staggering amount that will halt their operations and help ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Such blatant disregard for the National Park and the SAC should not have been allowed in the first place. Such disregard for planning law should be prosecuted.
I strongly object.
I strongly object
The developers and Conwy Council need to be held accountable for the damage done.
I strongly object to this project. There has been a total disregard for any past planning permissions and so it is highly likely that they will ignore future rules and so the project should be stopped and the developers fined.