Sunday, 19 February 2012

Rape of the Vale

Of course the cheque is in the post. Of course the impacts will be minimal. Of course the landscape will be restored to its previous condition.

It all seemed to start so well in the dry weather of last spring, but then came the rains and pretty soon it looked like a battlefield.  The 38km gas pipeline from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Pwllheli passes through the Vale of Ffestiniog and it shows; looking down, from the mountains and cliffs above, the incision looks more like a canal than a pipeline.

There is a summary of the pipeline replacement programme on the Wales and West Utilities website which says: ‘one of the objectives of reinstatement of the pipeline route is to return the visual and physical integrity of the landscape, as closely as possible, to its previous condition’......’To reduce potential damage to soil structure, whenever possible, topsoil movements will only be carried out when conditions are considered suitable’. 

Looking at the state of the land in February 2012 it seems this was not possible! When will these and other aspects of reinstatement or restoration be complete?

On 13th February the Department of Energy and Climate Change approved the construction of a 22km gas pipeline from Llanwrin to Dolgellau.  Energy Minister Charles Hendry said In approving this pipeline I have made sure the plans meet stringent and comprehensive environmental standards.’

Good luck to you in southern Snowdonia!

We might think we’ve had a rough ride in the Ffestiniog area as contractors sought to bury small pipes of 150mm diameter. In 2007 gas pipes of 1200mm diameter, eight times bigger, were laid through 36km of the Brecon Beacons National Park. If you’d like to know how that went, there’s an excellent article in the spring edition of NaturCymru to be published on 15th March.


  1. Hi Huw, thanks for the article/information. You're right, I wonder who scrutinizes performance when statements relating to care for the environment have been made? Although there are often lots of "get-outs" as you highlight. One note - the link to the NaturCymru article for 15th Mar takes you to a page that is unreadable for some reason.

    Best wishes, and thanks for all your great writings and videos on the various platforms.


  2. Hi Alan, thanks for letting me know. That link should work now. Someone is employed 2 days a week by the National Park to oversee the Snowdonia section but I don't think she'll be able to comment at this stage. Ironically in the Brecon Beacons case, the person who has written an in depth article for Natur Cymru, was involved with planning the pipeline on behalf of National Grid before joining the Brecon Beacons National Park in charge of overseeing it. Poacher turned gamekeeper. Huw

  3. As frequent visitors to the Vale of Ffestiniog,one of the most beautiful valleys in Snowdonia we are horrified ,also saddened about the horrific scar left by the installation of a 6 inch diameter gas pipeline.
    On recent investigation we have discovered that the main contractor,Spiecapag a.k.a Entrepose have an interesting environmental track record.
    Entrepose were convicted and prosecuted by the Environment Agency in 2008 on 18 seperate pollution offences and requested that another 18 offences were taken into consideration.
    Quote:Ribblesdale Angling Assoc
    "from the outset and at our first meeting with Entrepose,we highlighted our concerns about the possible siltation effects on the river.When I said my concern was for the river,their reply was"ours for the pipeline".They seemed unaware of the river habitat's sensitivities or even care about the potential damage they could and did do,not only to our fishing but also to the environment.
    Why was this company given the contract in our beloved Park to do so much damage?