National Trust Wales aims to make beauty spots self-sufficient through hydro-electricity

By Catherine Roberts | 10 April 2012
A photo of a tree hanging over a lush green valley
National Trust Wales have announced further plans to power heritage sites with renewable technologies during 2012
© Karol Cioma
In a bid to become energy self-sufficient by 2015, National Trust Wales is adding to its growing collection of hydro-electricity powered sites.

Using abandoned copper mines on the slopes of Snowdon, the Trust plans to build a weir to carry mountain river overflow down an underwater pipe to a 650kw turbine housed on the National Trust’s Hafod Y Llan farm.

Overflow from a mountain river will create enough electricity to power all of the Trust’s Welsh attractions, including 45 holiday cottages and 200 farms.

Afon Cwm Llan was chosen for development due to the stream becoming sterile thanks to past industrial processes.

The National Trust is rigorous in its checks to assure that the projects have little to no impact on the land, holding wildlife, archaeological and ecological surveys, as well as taking part in numerous consultations with the local community.   

“As trusted guardians of places of historic interest and natural beauty, we believe the measure of our success is when you can’t see that anything is done,” says Keith Jones, the Environmental Practices Advisor for National Trust Wales.

“We will only look at an energy proposal if it is first and foremost suitable for the site, and adds to the story of its location.”

In just two years the National Trust Wales team have almost halved the charity’s energy use by adding solar panels to castle roofs and tucking away biomass boilers in towers.

Adding insulation, using low-energy light bulbs and metering energy usage has also helped a move towards energy self-sufficiency.

Hydro-electric schemes are not new to the area – in 1892, Sir Edward Watkin used Snowdon’s water to produce electricity, and there are many historic hydros in the region.

The Hafod Y Llan hydro-electric scheme will be one of several renewable technologies planned for installation by the Trust team in Wales during 2012.

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