Recently submitted plans for a new pumped-storage power station at the Glynrhonwy slate quarries above Llanberis would create new reservoirs, a major pipeline, a possible upgrade to overhead power cables - and the permanent flooding of disused quarry sites that contain climbing routes. Elfyn Jones reports.
The application, submitted to Gwynedd Council by The Quarry Battery Company, is for a new hydro-electric pumped storage power station at the site of the old Glynrhonwy slate quarries located in the lower Llanberis valley directly above Llyn Padarn. The quarries contain the first route to be done on slate - the iconic Gideon - climbed in 1964.
The company wants to construct dams to increase the capacity of two quarry holes, both of which contain some minor climbing interest, which lie on Cefn Du, the moorland and heather covered hill opposite Fachwen and Lion Rock.
A major new pipeline would take the water to a lower reservoir to be constructed at the Mancer Quarry and a 50m-high turbine house on the site of the Glynrhonwy development site. The scheme would work in a similar fashion to the nearby but much larger Dinorwig Power Station: generating electricity at times of peak demand by releasing water from the top reservoirs and then using surplus capacity at night-time to pump the water back up to the top reservoirs.
At a recent BMC Cymru/Wales meeting, BMC members present decided to object to the scheme on the grounds of the possible impact on the landscape, the impact of the construction works, especially the pipeline, and the impact on access.
Some climbing venues would be permanently destroyed while public footpaths would be closed for the construction phase and possibly permanently diverted. Although outside of the National Park, the location is highly visible from the National Park and even more so from the nearby Padarn County Park.
The current planning application does not include any details of how any electricity generated would be exported to the National Grid. The Dinorwig Power station currently uses an underground conection to a sub-station several miles away but this is already at full capacity so another connection would be required, in all likelyhood an overhead power line.
Part of the site is registered common land which is also open access land within a relatively wild heather moorland area and which is also adjacent to a designated Site Of Special Scientific Interest.
The proposed power station would have a maximum output of 49.9Mw - which brings it in just under the capacity required for the application to be automatically determined by the National Infrastructure Planning Commission. This means that the application could be decided on by the local Gwynedd councillors within the next four weeks!
The plans can be viewed on the Gwynedd Council "Trace & Track" website and any submission can also be made via that website. All submissions must be received by the Council before 20 December.
The BMC Cymru Area feels that the scale and size of this development requires much more consideration and a more generous time frame for all issues to be discussed. 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 important conservation area.
The timing of the submission, just before the Christmas period, makes a full and objective public consultation almost impossible.
How to have your say
Comments on the proposal can be submitted directly to Gwynedd Council on their on-line response form.
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