Something old, something new. How much is too much development?

Heritage or insdustrial dispoilment? most farms with streams had one. Oh and the reason for the farms location was because of access to water

Heritage or industrial despoilment? Most farms with streams had one. Oh and the reason for the farm’s location was because of access to water. PS this is Gelli Iago above Nantgwynant where we will be installing a micro 30kw hydro this summer. It could have been 100kw but 30kw was more appropriate. More to come on this…

It’s an interesting look at our landscapes and hydro development. North Wales is going through a minor revolution in terms of energy generation. We have small to medium hydros harnessing the fact that we have landscape which is pre disposed to make water fall down mountains in special, spectacular, intimate and awe-inspiring ways. But we also have a very… very long history of harnessing this energy to make thing move round and round. I was amazed to look at an 1881 Ordinance survey map of the small area of Snowdonia which I inhabit and the level of harnessing water in terms of leats, mills, dams and such like was incredible. It makes the current small revolution look like ‘playing around a bit’. But are we not now better informed about impact and such like?

the gear wheel of the water wheel. the C16 farm house now abndoned can be seen through the spokes f the water wheel... change always has an will happen. Conservation is about the management of change

the gear  of the water wheel. The C16 Gelli Iago farm-house now abandoned can be seen through the spokes of the water wheel… change always and will happen. Conservation is about the management of change

I am helping a group to look at appropriate development and a strategic way of looking at cumulative impact. Dams and reservoirs are relatively simple to gauge their impact. Run of river systems are much more subtle and at the moment very difficult to group together in simple impact terms. The building of these systems if undertaken in a non professional way has immediate effects in terms of erosion, silt and just general look of a building site. But humidity lowering for a certain specific lichen because of less water, suspended sediments in water flows, fish migration and physical impact, aesthetic changes to specific site are measured and managed by the precautionary approach. Their impact is little understood at the micro level. There in  lies problems! One persons precaution is another’s industrialisation and another persons conservative approach. We have to look at them one by one, case by case or we are in danger of using sweeping statements and subjective stand points. But there must be a way? We have a big problem presented by our changing climate. Combined with the facts that we are attempting to decarbonise our society but we currently have limited tools do so. But we also only have one landscape and when its gone its gone. I think it does depend which side of the fence you are looking at the problem and this is why I am so proud of working for the National Trust as we are guardians and developer. The balance is there…I will share in another blog how we go through the ‘how much is too much’ side of hydro development and highlight the ones we have not built and why! (there are a lot of them!)

tomorrows heritage? The Hafod y Llan 660kw hydro which is nearing 4.3 million Kwh in two and a half years.

Tomorrows heritage? The Hafod y Llan 660kw hydro which is nearing 4.3 million Kwh in two and a half years. I was so pleased to see in one of the countryside forums people using this hydro as the bench mark in terms of impact that others should be measured against!

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