Hydropower scheme gets green light

6th April 2017

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  • Mitigation ,
  • Generation ,
  • Renewable


Stefanie Simmons

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has given the go-ahead for two disused quarries in North Wales, to be used to generate electricity and store energy.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has given the go-ahead for two disused quarries in North Wales, to be used to generate electricity and store energy.

The 99.9 MW pumped storage scheme at the Glyn Rhonwy and Chwarel Fawr quarries is the first onshore hydropower project to be approved through the Planning Act 2008. When operational reversible turbines will pump water through a large diameter tunnel between the two reservoirs. Electricity will be generated at peak times and when demand is low the upper resevoir can be filled. An underground power plant will be installed in a deep shaft next to the lower reservoir.

Permission for a 49.9 MW scheme had been approved by Gwynedd Council in 2014, but the developer, Snowdonia Pumped Hydro, updated its application for a development consent order in 2015 after reforms to the energy market weakened the viability of the original plan.

BEIS secretary of state Greg Clark said he largely agreed with the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the examining authority, Stuart Cowperthwaite. In a letter to the developer, he wrote: ‘Most of the matters assessed in the examining authority’s report require no further consideration as the conclusions reached are reasonable and justifiable on the basis of the matters considered.’

As part of its examination of the application, BEIS conducted a habitats regulations assessment of the proposed development. It concluded that the project did not pose a significant effect to the integrity of any European site as defined in the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulation 2010 and that no appropriate assessment of the impacts of the development was required.

Consultancy AECOM has been involved with the scheme for more than six years, delivering the technical disciplines to support the environmental impact assessment and the development consent order, including ecology, transport, noise, landscape, water quality, air quality and cultural and heritage assessments.

The firm’s EIA associate director, Catherine Anderson, said the development consent order marked a significant milestone and that the project would help boost the UK’s ability to respond to changing patterns of electricity generation and demand. ‘AECOM has remained committed to the project since its early stages, with our environmental and engineering teams working in collaboration to embed mitigation measures into the design from the outset,’ she said.

Snowdonia Pumped Hydro needs to empty standing rainwater from the quarries before work can start on the £100m scheme. In January, Natural Resources Wales granted environmental permits allowing the company to discharge water into Llyn Padarn and Nant y Betws.


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