North West Wales

Glyn Rhonwy quarry: Pump storage hydroelectric power scheme concern

The view down into the top quarry - Chwarel Fawr
Image caption The firm says the hydroelectric scheme is appropriate for an area of former slate quarries

Concerns have been raised about plans for a £100m pump storage hydroelectric power generation scheme on the edge of Snowdonia National Park.

The Snowdonia Society charity says it is worried about the effect the Glyn Rhonwy scheme may have on the wildlife, culture and heritage of the area.

The Quarry Battery Company says it will do everything to minimise the impact.

The scheme is based on the same principle as Dinorwig's First Hydro plant in Llanberis.

Water there is pumped uphill to a reservoir when electricity is cheap and then released back down through a turbine to generate electricity to sell on when it is more expensive for suppliers to buy.

Heritage bid

A dam would be built at the upper reservoir and the society says it is concerned about the effects of construction.

"The abandoned Glyn Rhonwy quarry holes below Cefn Du have become a sanctuary for wildlife and are hugely important to the culture and heritage of the region," says the society's newsletter.

"It is part of an application for Unesco World Heritage Status, based on the area's unique industrial workings.

"The holes are also home to many rock climbs including one called Gideon, the first recorded route in the Llanberis slate quarries."

The society is also concerned because it says there are no details available on how the scheme will be connected to the grid and they fear extra pylons may have to be constructed locally.

"Members also feel very strongly that this submission cannot be looked at in isolation without also considering the possible impacts of any new underground or overhead power cables in such a scenic and conservation area," it said in the newsletter.

The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) says it feels that the "scale and size of this development requires much more consideration".

Dave Holmes, managing director of the Quarry Battery Company, says that as a small firm they may only be taking the scheme through the planning stages, looking for someone else to take on the £100m construction project if approved.

He said there was some misunderstanding locally that pylons would be built in the future to link the scheme to the grid.

"I would like it to be underground and even asked that this be put as a condition on any planning permission, but it is up to the district network operator to put in a separate application in for any link," said Mr Holmes.

Glyn Rhonwy had been chosen because the geology of the area is good and the hydroelectric idea is appropriate for an area of former slate quarries, he said.

Image caption The site has been the subject of a number of planning applications

The scheme would not affect the Gideon quarry, he added.

The site has previously been the subject of planning applications for schemes ranging from a large ski dome to a mountain biking centre.

"We feel that our scheme would add to the history of the area and would not be taking anything away," said Mr Holmes.

"The features are already there and the dam will be built to mimic the surrounding slate tips. No matter where you look from all you will see is water and slate and that's there already.

"There is good local awareness of pump storage here, people understand what it is," he added.

Mr Holmes claimed the company understood the concerns of local people.

"Locals in Waunfawr have genuine concerns about the use of the road near their homes during construction.

"I've been to two community meetings in Waunfawr and I've gone round individual houses to discuss the matter and to see what can be done."

The planning application will go before Gwynedd council in the new year.

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