Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment

Cambrian Hydro Power

Cambrian Hydro Power commissioned The Planning Group in 2011 to assist with planning application support of a hydro power project in the Ystwyth valley east of Cwmystwyth in Ceredigion, Wales. The work undertaken by The Planning Group consisted of a landscape and visual assessment (LVIA) for the project, which was presented to the Council as part of the Statement of Environmental Concerns (SoEC) submitted with the planning application.

The Llyn Isaf Hydro project is proposed as a sustainable Micro Hydro generation project lying in an upland catchment to the North of the Cwmystwyth mining sites. It utilises three small parallel north – south streams to feed the Lyn Isaf reservoir, located in the uplands area of the site. This reserve will allow a viable seasonal hydro generation cycle through a penstock pipe to a turbine situated just to the west of the Cwmystwyth mining site on the north bank of the Ystwyth River. It is envisaged that the project will have a life time of at least 25 years, and thereafter the infrastructure will be removed and returned to its original state.

The Planning Group’s Landscape Architect assisted Cambrian Hydro Power in the design and location of the pipeline and turbine house within the valley area, recommending that the pipeline should be buried underground and the turbine house be constructed of local materials to minimise the impacts of the project in both landscape and visual terms.

The landscape and visual assessment concluded that visibility of the proposed Llyn Isaf project within the study area will, overall, be very limited. Most elements of the project are relatively small or indeed located underground, and where seen, would typically be just one feature within a complex visual composition.  In the upland areas this will not be visually significant, consisting of the repair of an existing dam at Llyn Isaf, re-use of existing leats and re-use of an existing access track (currently utilised by farmers) from the public road to Llyn Isaf. In the valley area this will consist of the introduction of a small turbine building into an area where there is an existing cultural heritage of buildings associated with the mining history. Of the twelve viewpoints assessed in the visual impact assessment, high magnitude of impacts has been judged for only two, and for the other ten it would be low, negligible or none.

Given the various effects described above, it is judged that the proposed development of a hydro project at Llyn Isaf would have only very locally significant effects on both the landscape and the visual resources of the study area during the construction and operational stages of the project.

The planning application has been submitted and we await the Council’s decision.