May 27, 2011

First Minister gives green light to expansion of Welsh renewable energy sector

by Tom Bodden, DPW West, 27 May 2011

First Minister Carwyn Jones yesterday declared the next 10 years the ‘energy decade’ to press ahead with the growth of the Welsh renewable power industry.

Mr Jones, who has taken personal responsibility for energy matters in the new Welsh Government, set a target to double Wales’ green electricity output by 2025. He also wants to devolve to Cardiff control of renewable energy consents up to 100MW on both sea and land.

“And by 2050 we see almost all our local energy needs being met by low carbon electricity production,” he said.

But opposition to wind farms in rural Wales has been growing, culminating in more than 1,500 protesters thronged outside the Senedd on Tuesday in protest at power pylons they claimed would scar the mid Wales landscape.

Mr Jones warned the industry at the RenewableUK Cymru conference in Cardiff that the message about the low carbon economy had to be explained to the public.

“We must ensure the public understand what is happening and why. Without this, the planning process, whether for devices or grid connections, will continue to be fraught. We are trying to do all we can where we already have the powers to ensure the planning system in Wales operates effectively.”

Mr Jones added: “We’ve got to shift to a resource-efficient, green economy as fast as possible. That move is vital, both to play our part in the global fight against climate change and also to promote greener, sustainable jobs.”

One company has invested £38m in turbine tower manufacturing at Chepstow creating 240 new jobs.

“Green jobs such as these will be central to the future of the Welsh economy,” Mr Jones added.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan also told the 200 delegates that the shift to low carbon must be done with public support.

“There is already much we can be proud of and new offshore wind developments like North Hoyle, Rhyl Flats and Gwynt y Môr show our potential. Opportunities to harness tidal and hydro power must be grasped,” she said.

“But that does not mean that politicians or developers can ride roughshod over local opinion.”

The Countryside Council for Wales and RenewableUK signed a joint statement committed to green energy while minimising impacts on the environment.

URL to article: