A request to construct a zigzag track to carry heavy machinery and which is expected to ‘impact’ the appearance of a scenic mountain in Snowdonia has been approved. The route through Foel Clochydd has been given the green light by Snowdonia Park watchdogs, to access a peatland restoration project aimed at tackling climate change.
The application for Sion Alun Roberts, of RA Roberts a’i Fab, Pennant, is handled in association with the bog regeneration program. The 713m, 3.2m wide track is expected to be reduced to 1.6m once the work is complete.
A motion to approve the plan was accepted by the Snowdonia Park Authority at its Planning and Access Committee meeting on May 18, which was recorded and posted on YouTube on Friday. The project, located north of Pennant Farm, is in a remote area where there are “only a few farms” north of Llanymawddwy.
READ MORE: What parents need to watch out for as the childhood hepatitis epidemic grows in Wales
Currently grazed, the land is accessed by an unnamed road from the A470 at its junction at Dinas Mawddwy. The proposed track will allow access to the bog – by specialist machinery and contractors – at Blaencywarch, Bryn Uchaf, Hengwm and Pennant.
Construction could start in September, taking several months, while work to mitigate the effects could take more than 12 months. Compliance planning manager Dafydd Thomas told the meeting the track would be ‘obvious’ in the landscape – but to ‘reduce impact’ applicants would use the ‘cut and fill technique’ in using leftover soil to renovate the land.
He said National Resources Wales supported the request, with changes to additional information, including the impact mitigation work. Mr Thomas said it was ‘important to address the impact of climate change’ and based on this the track would be used for a project to restore peatland areas in the park.
He said: “We feel that we can encourage this application to be supported. It will be obvious, the track will have an effect on the mountain, but we feel the benefits based on the benefit of biodiversity, based on the response to climate change, with restoration works to mitigate any negative effects, means that we should support the request, we recommend that you approve it with noted conditions.”
Several officers offered their support, with one saying “we need to dam these wetlands”, while another said “the peat project is not only good for climate change and carbon storage, but also good for nature and wildlife”.
The renovation of the track to a smaller track afterwards was also considered “very important”. “I would like to see a strong element in it encouraging vegetation to grow back,” said one member.
Another questioned the impact of the plan and said: “I’m sitting in a dilemma here, obviously peat regeneration is a very important task – I wonder why do we need to take such big machines at the top of the mountain to do the work, whereas in other parts of the country this work is done otherwise, in places that are less accessible, less easy, without using large machines and therefore causing a lot of scarring? applicant?
“As an authority, we have to balance the issues of landscape protection, biodiversity and carbon capture.” He cited concerns about previous leads.
“Potentially could this be a repeat of the trail work at Capel Curig and Llyn Crafnant and the negative press that attracted?” he asked.
“Have we thought about the consequences – not just through the narrow lens of climate change and the narrowing of the runway?” Another replied that in Capel Curig, “only one person complained”.
Another said: “I’m glad the claimant has looked at all the options – we’re told he has to have big machines, there’s no other option. The track needs width so that machines such as excavators can access it.
“We are aware of the effect on the mountain – it is crucial that the track is reduced once the work is completed. The claimant has considered all possibilities.”
Another asked if the track would be ‘beneficial to walkers and cyclists in the future’, but it was confirmed that the only access was from Pennant and had ‘no public rights of way’. Another asked: “The area has a lot of rainfall, does the regeneration project take into account erosions? Is it resistant to rainfall?”
Mr. Thomas replies: “The water from the road will be stored and will not be a risk, everything is provided for in the plans” The motion is adopted.