North East Wales

Hydro power bids for Denbighshire

Stepping Stones and Ford across Nant Cwrddu, west of Pen y Pigyn
Image caption Corwen's hydro scheme would take water from Nant Cwrddu and Nant y Pigyn

The potential for rivers to generate electricity in Denbighshire is splitting views in the county, as a new £3000,000 scheme has been unveiled.

The latest development backed in principle at a public meeting in Corwen on Thursday has seen a community-owned project being put forward for Corwen.

It would run alongside a flood alleviation scheme in the area.

But another hydro project on the River Elwy near St Asaph has been criticised by local anglers.

The Rhyl and St Asaph Angling Association (RSAAA) fears the Elwy proposals at the Cefn weir could hinder the movement of salmon and sea trout.

The project could provide power for about 100 homes claim its developers, North Wales Hydro Power (NWHP).

The RSAAA owns or leases more than 20 miles (32km) of fishing rights on both the rivers Elwy and Clwyd.

The angling association's secretary, Ian McDonald, has urged fellow fishing clubs to oppose the development.

"Considering that the scheme is only likely to generate about 80KW [of electricity], which is a relatively small amount of electricity, we believe that the risk of causing damage to the ecology of the river system and our fishery - in which we have invested heavily over the years - far outweighs any benefits and therefore the scheme should not go ahead," he argued.

A consultation by Natural Resources Wales on proposals to extract water from the river to power the scheme closed on Thursday.

Developers, NWHP, said they were "disappointed" by the anglers' response.

"We have kept them fully abreast of the proposed scheme for over two years, having attended meetings on site and having presented to their committee about the benefits of the scheme," said the company's director, Richard Rees, in a statement.

He argued that as part of the scheme, a new fish and eel pass would be built on the river section.

"If successful would be described as an environmental win-win," he insisted.

"The turbine chosen is also regarded as being fish friendly and there is research to back this up."

Community venture

Despite the concerns raised in the St Asaph area, another scheme is also being put forward for the county, this time in the Corwen area.

Backers say it could make the town one of the first in Wales to have its own hydro scheme, owned by the community - potentially earning £40,000 a year - with half of the money going directly to the community for 20 years.

The project was forward by the rural regeneration agency, Cadwyn Clwyd, working with Denbighshire council and the Rhug Estate.

It would piggy-back on a £2.1m flood alleviation scheme for the town.

Silas Jones, Cadwyn Clwyd's Energy Officer, said: "We have carried out a feasibility study and it shows that the Nant y Pigyn scheme could generate 170,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power over 30 homes.

"We have worked closely with Denbighshire council who have a project to prevent persistent flooding caused by a culvert that runs through the town, under buildings.

"They have encouraged us to develop the hydro power plan and the two will run side-by-side, with the flood defence scheme benefiting the hydro scheme."

At a public meeting in Corwen there was support for the principle of establishing the not-for-profit community company to establish a hydro power scheme near the town.

They will be another meeting next month to formally establish the new company - it is then hoped local people will invest in the venture at between £100-£150 a share.

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