The Aber Falls, above the village of Abergwyngregyn, is well known as a stunning visitor attraction in the Snowdonia National Park. Here in the village, known locally as Aber, we are pleased to be able to welcome some 50,000 visitors a year who enjoy the walk up to the Aber Falls and beyond into the Carneddau range. Some drive up and take advantage of one of the two car parks we run (just £2 a day and all funds go to improving amenities in the village), others park in the free car park at the bottom of the village and walk up the valley. Choosing this second option takes you past Tŷ Pwmp, which houses a small exhibition of the history of Aber and the Princes of Gwynedd who had a court here, and Yr Hen Felin (The Old Mill) Community Centre and café.
The Anafon Hydro Scheme is the most recent community venture in Abergwyngregyn. It is not the power of the Aber Falls that is driving the hydroelectric generating plant but water from the nearby Anafon valley, taken out of the river high in the Carneddau and returned downstream once it has passed through our turbine. The scheme is owned and managed by Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf, a Community Benefit Society set up to build and run this community hydro project.
Our aim was to build and operate a hydro-electric generating plant to:
- maximise the renewable energy contribution from the site while safe-guarding the local ecology, archaeology and environment in the vicinity of the project;
- produce an expected annual generation of approximately 957 MWh, enough to supply about 230 households and to offset more than 19,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the first 40 years of its life;
- earn significant income to support energy efficiency and infrastructure and social initiatives in Abergwyngregyn and the wider local community.
Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company
The Anafon Hydro was conceived by Directors of the Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company (ARC) working with Keith Jones from the National Trust, the main landowner in the Anafon Valley.
ARC is a social enterprise and a Company Limited by Guarantee incorporated in 2002. It is managed by a Board of 12 volunteer directors and 3 co-opted members drawn from the community of Abergwyngregyn. The directors of ARC provide a broad mix of experience including planning, general and financial administration, the law, company management, university education, health care and administration, catering and hospitality, accountancy, biological sciences and ecology.
In the 12 years ARC has been operating, it has undertaken a range of community projects:
- raising grant funding totalling c. £470,000 to purchase and renovate Yr Hen Felin/The Old Mill, a large stone building in the centre of the village, to provide a community resource which it now manages - this includes a well-used community room, café and snooker club - Yr Hen Felin Community Centre was opened in March 2006 by Mrs Betty Williams MP;
- raising grant funding of c. £25K to purchase and renovate an old pump-house in the village to house a small visitor information point and heritage centre (with toilet facilities) for visitors to the Aber Valley;
- the development of a car park at the entrance to the village to provide free parking for visitors;
leasing the Bontnewydd car park serving the Aber Falls and National Nature Reserve and the Carneddau mountain range from the Snowdonia National Park Authority for a peppercorn rent and installing a ‘pay and display’ meter:
- entering into a management agreement with Natural Resources Wales to operate the Forestry car park which also serves the Aber Falls and valley - these car parks currently provide the company with its main income stream.
For these projects, ARC was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2011.
In 2010, in partnership with the National Trust, ARC started to explore the feasibility of developing a hydro-electric scheme on the Afon Anafon above the village and a decision was taken to proceed with the project.
The initial phases of development, including conducting detailed feasibility studies and obtaining the necessary consents and permissions, as well as the construction of the hydro in 2015 were managed by a small group of Directors of ARC, Jacqui Bugden, Gavin Gatehouse and Hywel Thomas acting in a voluntary capacity with technical and other expert support. Click here to visit our village website for information on Abergwyngregyn and the local area
Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf.
Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf. was established in 2014 to complete the development of the Anafon Hydro and to operate and manage it after commissioning. The Society was registered with the Financial Conduct Authority on 11th June 2014 (registered number 32406R). This legal structure, a Community Benefit Society, is regulated by the FCA and governed by specific Rules based on model rules developed by Cooperatives UK.
The Rules of Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf. ensure that:
- the assets will be used for the benefit of the community in perpetuity through an “asset lock”
- the management of the new company will remain in the control of the local community
- investors will have equal voting powers irrespective of the size of their investment - one member one vote
- all disposable profits will be invested in the local community.
Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf. (YAE) is an independent Society and not a subsidiary of the Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company Ltd (ARC). However, its three founding Directors, Jacqui Bugden, Gavin Gatehouse and Hywel Thomas were also Directors of ARC.
On 1 May 2015, Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf shareholders elected the new Board of 9 Directors. These elected Directors bring to the Board a broad mix of experience including accountancy, general and financial administration, banking, town planning, the law, company management, university education, health care and administration, catering and hospitality, biological and physical sciences and ecology.
All Directors act on a purely voluntary basis.
Currently, they are:
Gavin has lived in Abergwyngregyn since 1973 and raised his family in the village. He retired in 1998 after 26 years in the University of Wales, Bangor and a period as Head of the School of Biological Sciences so has experience of general, personnel and financial administration in a large university department. This role and his research interests in tropical entomology involved him with national and international government and private sector organisations in the UK, Africa, the Far East, Australia and the Americas. He has been active in community initiatives and enterprises in Abergwyngregyn, as a community councillor, a founder Director and past Chair of the Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company and member and past Chair of the Aber Heritage Valley Partnership. He is now founding Chair of Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf.
Hywel’s family has lived in Abergwyngregyn for seven generations and he himself has lived here with his family since 1988. Following 38 years experience in Planning, he recently retired as Development Control Manager with Gwynedd Council Planning Department. He has experience of working on community projects since 2000 including the £470,000 Yr Hen Felin/The Old Mill renovation project which has delivered a Community Centre, Cafe and Community Club. For this project the Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Currently Chairman and Director of the Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company, he is also Secretary of Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf.
Ian is a chartered accountant who has held the post of finance director in several small companies including a plc. He’s also been involved in the project management of construction, mining and engineering works in the UK and overseas and more recently a non-executive director or governor of a number of smaller organisations. He lives in Bangor and has been in North Wales since 1970.
Wynn’s family have lived in Aber for generations and he was born and has lived his whole life in Abergwyngregyn. He farms above the village and is also a fencing contractor. Wynn has played a prominent role in community affairs for many years, serving as a Community Councillor, Director of the Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company with particular responsibility for servicing the Aber Falls car parks, and will be a Trustee of Dŵr Anafon, the charity set up to distribute the disposable profits of the hydro for community benefit.
Working for the National Trust as an Environmental Advisor for the last 9 years Keith is also the lead for renewable energy generation for the National Trust within its £30m renewable energy investment program.Prior to this and following his first class degree in Environmental Planning he was the National Trust Head Warden and then Countryside Manager for Snowdonia which included managing the 4000acre Snowdon farm. At this time he was also one of the founders of the Welsh Institute of Countryside and Conservation Management.
He currently specialises in hydro development having been involved in 7 completed hydro systems to date and leading on the development of a further 16. He regularly advises organisations and governments on aspects of distributed generation. He is a steering group member of the Community Energy Wales Developments Fund and also sits on the climate change commission Wales land use group. As a previous winner of the Ashden Gold award he and a colleague founded the UK wide ‘fit for the future’ network which brings many of the largest NGO’s and landowners together to learn and share about sustainable energy.
He actively works within the community sector. Director of the Anafon Community hydro, Ynni Padarn Peris and Ynni Padarn Peris as well as helping many other community energy companies. He was selected as the Institute of Welsh Affairs environmentalist of the year 2014 and was awarded the honorary title of Lecturer by the University of Bangor 2015 and was shortlisted as a community energy champion by Community Energy England.
A freelance lecturer on sustainability for the Cardiff and New York Universities and this year he represented the 67 National Trusts globally at the Paris Climate change talks. He actively blogs and shares freely as well as being one of the Environmental experts for the last 15 years on the BBC radio Cymru Galwad Cynnar as well as a regular commentator on energy maters for the BBC in Wales.
Linton has lived in Abergwyngregyn for 18 years with his wife Philippa and their three daughters. He was born in Bangor Gwynedd, and educated at Ysgol Friars, Bangor.
He studied Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering at the Department of Marine Technology; University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Following graduation in 1994, he joined Cammell Laird in Birkenhead as a Naval Architect.
Cammell Laird is one of the largest shipyards in the UK and during a 22 year career he has worked in various technical, production and project management roles culminating in promotion to Managing Director of the Company in 2008. In his career Linton has had responsibility for the delivery of numerous, highly complex, multi-million pound construction and engineering projects.
Linton now has operational responsibility for the Company and the activities of over 1000 people working there. The Company is currently constructing the new £200m UK research ship 'RRS Sir David Attenborough'.
As well as his role as Cammell Laird, Linton is member of the Lloyds Register Technical Committee (an advisory group to the Marine Classification Society) and a trustee of the Kathleen & May (Heritage Schooner) Trust.
Martin is a native of North Wales and has lived in Llanfairfechan since 1972. He retired in 2010 after 40 years in Bangor University during which time he was appointed Head of Electronic Engineering for 6 years and Dean of Science and Engineering for 3 years. As Head of Electronic Engineering he was also appointed to the Board of IDB (UWB) Ltd which, until recently, was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bangor University. During his tenure as Dean, he was a member of the University’s Planning and Implementation Group. He has acted as a consultant for companies ranging from SMEs to major multinationals advising on production problems related to static electricity. For many years he was the Treasurer and a Trustee of Llanfairfechan Sailing Club and was recently elected to the Board of Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf.
Enlli Thomas moved to Abergwyngregyn in 2012 with her husband Carwyn, and became a proud mother to Tomos Llywelyn Jones in September 2013. After a period working as a post-doc researcher followed by a 6-year period as Lecturer in Psychology, she moved to the School of Education at Bangor University in 2007 where she is currently the Head of School. Having co-led on a number of large-scale research grants, including a current £1.8 million grant from the ESRC/AHRC, a £720,000 and a £630,000 grant from the ESRC, and a series of larger (£90,000) and smaller (£10,000) grants from the Welsh Government, she has written widely in her field of expertise and recently hosted a highly successful International Conference on Bilingualism in Education that involved delegates from a variety of locations including Argentina, South Africa, Canada, US, Australia, and Europe.
Director of Community Energy Wales and the Cambrian Mountains Initiative CIC, Community Energy Fund Manager with Robert Owen Community Banking - 15years involvement in community development and rural sustainability. Chair of One Powys Local Action Group (RDP LEADER Project in Powys) Renew Coodinator, lives in Llanidloes Mid Wales with partner, two kids and a dog - in spare time resarching the experience of the men of the area who fought in the Great War.
Nikki has lived in Abergwyngregyn since 2006 working locally as a General Practice Nurse. Her nursing career spans 50 years covering a number of specialties. Though now semi-retired, she continues to run an anti-coagulation clinic in the neighbouring village of Llanfairfechan. She has been a member of the Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company for three years, joining the board of Directors in 2015. Committed to the concept of renewable energy she has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Ynni Anafon Energy hydro project for two years and was co-opted to the Board in 2015.
The Rules of Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf. can be read or downloaded here:
Distribution of the hydro profits to the Communities
The disposable profits generated by the hydro will be transferred to a new charity, Dŵr Anafon, set up by the Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company to distribute the money for the benefit of local communities.
The Trustees of this charity will be representative of the communities designated to benefit from the project and will consider applications for funding from these communities.
Although the criteria for assessing projects for funding will be decided by the Trustees, they might include the following:
- projects should be community-based and designed to benefit the community of Abergwyngregyn and nearby communities which the committee will designate;
- the project should address a specific community issue or need;
- the project should be able to demonstrate that it has the support of the local community and organisations;
- projects should be self-sustaining once the initial project funding has been invested and have a sustainable impact in the community;
- no project should be for commercial gain although start-up funding for small businesses may be considered where they can be shown to have the prospect of creating sustainable employment;
- projects should be able to demonstrate that they have attempted to obtain match-funding from other sources or by fund-raising;
- projects should be able to demonstrate added value in the form of:
- environmental benefits such as improved energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions
- building or buying a local asset
- training and/or employment opportunities
- adding value to the community
- the use of volunteers
The decisions of the Trustees of the charity with regard to any application for funding received will be final.