Europe’s largest electricity generating waterwheel makes a splash at historic National Trust beauty spot

Water power has returned to a historic beauty spot that the National Trust looks after in Wales this week, following the restoration of Europe’s largest electricity generating waterwheel.

Watch BBC One’s Countryfile this Sunday from 6.30pm to see the big switch-on.

Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall, South Wales (National Trust / Paul Harris)

Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall, South Wales (National Trust / Paul Harris)

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National Trust reaction to fracking plans announced in the Queen’s speech

An Infrastructure Bill which could make fracking for gas easier was announced in the Queen’s Speech today.

Rick Hebditch, Assistant Director for External Affairs at the National Trust, said:

“The Government has only just started consulting on changing the trespass law to make it easier for fracking. It’s a little presumptuous therefore for the Government to say today that the Infrastructure Bill will open up access for shale given the continued concerns from the National Trust and others about how well fracking is regulated. 

“It’s also important that all the measures in the Infrastructure Bill, including on planning, get proper Parliamentary scrutiny in the short session before the election. Adding in measures on fracking would mean there’s less time for scrutiny, which could lead to poor policy that doesn’t address perfectly legitimate concerns about the process.”

National Trust comment on Government fracking proposals and consultation announcement

There are very real dangers for the environment in going all out for fracking. That’s why we’d like to see specific changes to its planning and regulatory framework, including ruling out fracking in National Parks and in sensitive environmental areas.

We are concerned about the government’s proposals to amend the law of trespass and access rights for fracking and we will look carefully at them. Our position on fracking is clear – if fracking were proposed today on our land we would say no.

We look to the Government to ensure that its consultation on these major changes to access rights is fair. We would be very concerned if decisions were to be rushed to try to put changes into legislation before the election next year.

We have previously raised broader conservation concerns in our report ‘Are We Fit to Frack?’, which was written jointly with other leading countryside groups. It can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/fracking

It contains ten recommendations for making fracking safe:

  1. Avoid sensitive areas for wildlife and water resources by creating shale gas extraction exclusion zones.
  2.  Make Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) mandatory for shale gas extraction proposals.
  3. Require shale extraction companies to pay for a world-class regulatory regime.
  4. Prevent taxpayers from bearing the costs of accidental pollution.
  5. Make water companies statutory consultees in the planning process.
  6. Require all hydraulic fracturing operations to operate under a Groundwater Permit.
  7. Make sure the Best Available Techniques (BAT) for mine waste management are rigorously defined and regularly reviewed.
  8. Ensure full transparency of the shale gas industry and its environmental impact.
  9. Ensure monitoring and testing of shale gas operations is rigorous and independent.
  10. Minimise and monitor methane emissions.

Our full position statement on fracking can be found here.

Making waves in energy generation: National Trust powers mansion with Britain’s biggest marine source heat pump

A major milestone will be passed today with the completion of the UK’s largest marine source heat pump, off the North Wales coast, to provide all of the power needed to heat the National Trust’s breath-taking Plas Newydd mansion.

The project is the first of five schemes to be completed in a £3.5m pilot phase of the charity’s Renewable Energy Investment Programme, which was launched last year in partnership with the 100% renewable electricity supplier Good Energy.

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National Trust supports new guidance to turn solar farms into biodiversity hotspots

We are supporting new guidance to help transform solar developments into great homes for nature.

Thousands of orchids grow alongside a solar array at Plas Newydd in Anglesey (National Trust/Keith Jones)

Thousands of orchids grow alongside a solar array at Plas Newydd in Anglesey (National Trust/Keith Jones)

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National Trust enters renewable energy trading business

A hydro scheme on the side of Snowdon has been switched on as a new trading company set up by the National Trust begins to harness the power it generates, to help fund conservation.

Snowdon hydro weir (credit: National Trust/John Millar)

Snowdon hydro weir (credit: National Trust/John Millar)

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Lyveden wind farm plans withdrawn

Plans to build four wind turbines near the historic Lyveden New Bield have been withdrawn.

West Coast Energy applied to build four 400ft (125m) wind turbines on land close to Lyveden New Bield, home to a Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house, lodge and garden. Following a lengthy legal battle, the energy company has finally withdrawn the application from the planning process. Continue reading

National Trust joins countryside groups to challenge fracking rules

Poorly regulated fracking risks harming threatened species and polluting our waterways, according to a report produced by the National Trust and other leading wildlife and countryside groups.

Morecambe Bay in Cumbria is one of many special places for nature that may be affected by the shale gas industry ©National Trust Images/David Noton

Morecambe Bay in Cumbria is one of many special places for nature that may be affected by the shale gas industry ©National Trust Images/David Noton

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UK charities and landowners come together to set up new carbon cutting network

Some of the UK’s largest charities and landowners are acting together to fight the impact of climate change and rising energy costs in a new carbon-cutting network, created by the National Trust and the sustainable energy charity, Ashden.

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