I haven’t been up the pass for a while, probably since september or maybe even july last year. I have also not engaged with the BMC other than to give them my subs on a yearly basis. As such maybe I have been out of the loop, with all things in the climbing community. So when I headed up into Cwm Glas this week and saw a line of wooden post hammered into the pristine mountain hillside, I had to ask myself what the hell are these marking out?
So I tweeted the picture and the question to the BMC and Snowdonia National Park twitter handles. What kind of pissed me off was I received a response from neither. Given I pay through both taxes for one (The Warden) and subs for the other (BMC). I would have thought someone could have spent the 30 seconds to reply.
Instead it took a friend who used to be a warden, answer the question by supplying a link to a planning application that has been accepted to build a dam, turbine house and underground pipes and cables. The stakes I saw were marking out the line of the pipe line, right in the middle of the pass and pretty close to the centre of the national park.
I was shocked, no flabbergasted. As tweets came in it turns out Elfyn the BMC access officer for Wales had mentioned the project at some point at a local area meeting and no one took him seriously. As how could the national park allow a development like this in the middle of the park. After all, isn’t their job to protect the unspoilt nature of the park?
Given I have heard stories of them stopping people build sheds i there gardens under draconian planning laws. If you live inside the parks boundaries you have to use vastly more expensive local slate rather than cheaper imported slate and one person told me they made them move a new build house 10ft to the side for no apparent reason. (If you have any ridiculous planning stories please share them in the comment section below).
Now I know I am join the likes of the ‘Not in my back yard’ brigade, but I have to say I have not been that bothered by wind farms on the borders of the park or out at sea. But the Llanberis Pass is one of the most breathe taking mountain valleys in the UK and the Park have agreed to build a dam and turbine house in it.
Yet for some reason the first I have heard of it was literally tripping over the surveyors posts. Why haven’t the BMC made more out of publicising this? I have search their website and found no mention of it. I in part blame myself, but after four thankless years volunteering for the BMC I really feel I wasted enough of my time engaging with them.
My subs should mean this sort of thing is highlighted or flagged up. Tom Hutton wrote something on other schemes but never mentioned the Pass scheme. Which makes me wonder how they managed to get that under the radar of everyone. I am starting to think that maybe they cut a planning corner, like failing to notify people and interested group. I of course know nothing about planning law but you’d think there was some need to inform.
On twitter I joked that Elfyn goes on too many holidays, but I know he drives all over the UK and works more than his 40 hours a week. Meaning he soon accumulates all that holiday, but whose catching those curve balls when he is away? Does Wales need more than one officially appointed officer from the BMC, whose is also responsible for some work across the border. So we can’t even say that our one officers is full time.
I don’t know what to do. The decision seems to have been made and unless someone who understands planning in the national park wants to come up with a way to fight this development for a hydro power station in the middle of Llanberis Pass. Running on what is essentially such a small stream that its effect on climate change is going to be the preverbal drop in the ocean.
At the moment maybe our only option is emailing poor Elfyn at the BMC, to get a better plan together to try and appeal the decision.
I guess the question is what should we do? Do you care? Have we all turned into totally apathetic climbers?