Planning permission has been granted for a Hydro Electric scheme to be built in the heart of the Llanberis Pass, North Wales.
The scheme consists of a concrete weir connected via underground pipes to a power house, and is to be built in the Cwm Glas Bach climbing area, very close to the picturesque Climbers' Club hut of Cwm Glas Mawr.
The scheme is small for a Hydro Electric station, and the construction of the power house looks sympathetically designed, however the scheme includes a concrete weir being built across a beautiful mountain stream, underground pipes being dug through the hillside and boulders being moved and then 'replaced' to allow the digging of the pipes. The power house is to be on the site of a ruined stone building on the track that leads to the Climbers' Club hut.
Local climber Mark Reeves was out in the Llanberis Pass when he spotted some marker posts:
"When I headed up into Cwm Glas this week and saw a line of wooden posts hammered into the pristine mountain hillside, I had to ask myself what the hell are these marking out?"
After the tweeting of a photo to the BMC and Snowdonia National Park went unanswered, Mark was still in the dark about what development was underway until a friend sent him a link to the planning application.
...I don’t know what to do. The decision seems to have been made, unless someone who understands planning in the national park wants to come up with a way to fight against this development of a hydro power station in the middle of Llanberis Pass? It will be running on what is essentially a small mountain stream and its effect on climate change is going to be a drop in the ocean."
Whilst this could be seen as a good opportunity for micro scale electricity generation, it could also be seen as a blot on the unique mountainscape of the Llanberis Pass.
With the planning application having already been given the green light, there is little option for appeal against this development. What seems most unusual about this situation is that the climbing and hillwalking community have not been better informed prior to the planning application being accepted.