What is an acceptable impact for a renewable energy project?
This is one of the questions we faced today. Craflwyn in Snowdonia hosted a meeting to road-test a new evaluation tool developed to asses a renewable energy systems impact on its location. This involved looking at the upcoming Craflwyn hydro and testing it in the new tool.
its simple but gets you to think
- what do you intend to do and what are the components. For example a hydro would involve a pipe, power house, storage yards for construction and so on. (temporary and permanent impact)
- Why is the site special? – this includes its statutory designations but also the landscape, cultural, social significance and its spirit of place (that feeling a place gives you)
- What impact the development components would have on the special nature of the site – everything from disastrous, through to negligible and on to positive
- the last aspect – what mitigation is required to lessen any potential, slight or medium impact and what does this result in?
If at the end of the day we end up with a significant impact on a high value aspect of the site and this can not be mitigated then the development should not proceed. At the moment this process is a screening and scoping tool. There is quite a lot of subjectivity in its implementation but its a really good place to start. We have to remember why the National Trust was set up and this sort of due diligence is a good reality check in ensuring we don’t dash for everything everywhere approach but there is always room for something everywhere and this tool helps us in terms of identifying what ‘appropriate’ look like