Snowdonia National Park is a national treasure.
It is the oldest and largest national park in Wales and home to around 25,000 people.
As you will know, this population rockets during the holidays with visitors flocking from around the world to experience the adventure capital and conquer some of the highest peaks in England and Wales.
In fact, around 10 million visitor days are spent in Snowdonia each year.
Clearly, there is huge pressure on our unique area, and a significant amount of the responsibility for managing this falls on the shoulders of Snowdonia National Park Authority.
The Authority has a number of responsibilities, such as conserving and enhancing natural beauty, fostering the economic and social wellbeing of communities, and determining planning applications.
However, its continued operation is under threat.
Last week, I stood up in the Senedd to highlight the fact that the Welsh Government is looking to cut the Authority’s budget by around half a million pounds.
Having met with the Chief Executive, I believe that the cut is likely to result in paths on Snowdon not being repaired; closure of all three information centres; the end of the sherpa bus; closure of public toilets; loss of even more staff; and serious questions about the robustness of the Authority.
In reality, what this means is that the Authority might only able to afford to process planning applications and run an office.
As should be clear, this is one of the greatest threats the National Park has seen, so I was expecting at least some sympathy and understanding from the Minister for Finance.
Unfortunately, Rebecca Evans AM did not have a single helpful point in her response, leaving me extremely worried that the Welsh Government will pursue the financial reduction, and in doing so negatively affect tourism, the Welsh language, and operation of the Local Authority.
Going forward, I will continue to work to help the Authority and protect our National Park.
For example, I recently had the pleasure of meeting with representatives of Innogy Renewables UK Limited at Dolgarrog Power Station.
The water powering this operation comes from an impressive area of the National Park, including Melynllyn, Dulyn, Eigiau, Llugwy, Cowlyd, and Coedty. As I am sure you can imagine, the network is impressive. In fact, there are 15.1km of leats and 5.5km of tunnels helping connect the 60 km2 mountainous area.
During my visit, I was pleased to discuss my work to see a long term sustainable flood strategy for the Conwy Valley. To my delight, there are steps that could be taken in the Dolgarrog Catchment Area to help reduce the flow of water entering the Conwy at Dolgarrog during bad conditions.
I have now written to Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, about the potential options that could be implemented in the Carneddau. As I have said before, numerous measures are needed from mountain top to estuary, so I hope that the Minister might be amenable to the opinions Innogy and I are proposing.