The developers of the controversial 99.9-MW Glyn Rhonwy pumped-storage project have been granted licenses by Natural Resources Wales to empty water from a disused Welsh quarry.
Per the NRW license, Snowdonia Pumped Hydro can now drain standing water into the Nant y Betws and Llyn Padarn reservoirs, giving the developer access to the quarries that will be sculpted to form the pumped-storage plant’s upper and lower reservoirs.
HydroWorld.com reported that SPH had withdrawn its original applications for environmental permitting from NRW in June amidst fears that it had not adequately qualified itself to receive the license. The developer then refiled for the permit in October.
Opponents of the project have long argued that standing water in the lower quarry might have been contaminated when the Royal Air Force dismantled ordinance in it in the 1970s. However, 17 independent tests conducted since 2012 in accordance with NRW-approved methodology and laboratories have shown that there is no evidence of contamination.
The project was originally proposed and approved with a capacity of 49.9 MW, though SPH later decided to install higher output turbines, raising the capacity to 99.9 MW. The developer previously received approval from the UK Planning Inspectorate for the capacity increase, though it is still waiting for approvals from the U.K.’s Secretary of State. Group representatives said the decision should be made by early March.
The Crown Estate agreed to lease 13 hectares of land to Snowdonia Pumped Hydro last April, at which point the project was expected to be operational by 2019.
If constructed, The Glyn Rhonwy would be Britain’s first new grid-scale power storage facility in more than 30 years.
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