The Welsh Government yesterday called on Westminster to “respect its position” on wind farms in a bid to avoid their proliferation in the Welsh countryside.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said the Welsh Government’s Tan 8 capacities should be “regarded as upper limits” and respected by Westminster when it finalises its renewable energy national policy.
He said over-capacity had led to proposals for major new overhead grid infrastructure in Mid Wales which led 1,500 people to protest at the Senedd.
Mr Jones said: “The Welsh Government takes its responsibilities to deliver sustainable development, tackle climate change and deliver energy security very seriously.
“We have a number of obligations we must fulfil, both in terms of our sustainable development duty and in playing our part in helping to meet the UK Government’s targets for carbon reduction set out in European and UK law.
“The Welsh Government remains committed to the principles of planning for onshore wind in a strategic way, which seeks to optimise the production of renewable energy whilst protecting Wales’ environment.
“Our policy in Tan 8 seeks to restrict the proliferation of large scale wind farms across the whole of Wales and focuses on the strategic search areas (SSAs) which were derived following an independent assessment.
“The indicative capacities set out in Tan 8 in 2005 reflected a considered view of the potential impact of grid and transport connections. However, in a number of the SSAs, developer interest has now greatly exceeded those indicative figures.
“The Welsh Government believes this level of development is unacceptable in view of its wider impacts on the local area.
“In our view the Tan 8 capacities should be regarded as upper limits and we call upon UK Government to respect this position when they finalise the renewable energy national policy statement and to not allow proliferation when they take decisions on individual projects in Wales.
“It is this overcapacity which has led to proposals for major new overhead grid infrastructure. The level of capacity within the SSAs would negate the need for the large obtrusive pylons which are causing such concern.
“My government would not support the construction of large pylons in Mid Wales and my ministers are pressing this case with National Grid Transmission and with Ofgem.
“In cases where communities get the disbenefits of major infrastructure without the economic advantages high voltage power brings to city areas, we believe a new approach must be taken to the undergrounding of high voltage power lines.
“I will be meeting with the British Irish Council on Monday where I intend to raise the impact of the UK Government energy policy on Wales and Montgomeryshire in particular.
“This situation amply illustrates why consents for major energy infrastructure projects must be devolved to Wales. We cannot accept a position where decisions made outside Wales will lead to inappropriate development for the people of Wales.”
Last month, protestors gathered at the Senedd to voice anger about planned electricity and wind energy plans in Mid Wales. Dozens of pylons up to 47m high and a substation are earmarked for seven parts of the region to connect wind farms.
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “All applications for wind farm developments and electricity network infrastructure should be dealt with on a case by case basis, taking into account the views of local people.”
Russell George, Shadow Minister For the Environment and AM for Montgomeryshire, said: “We welcome that ministers have finally given in to the strength of public opinion on windfarm developments.
“However, the First Minister’s statement that the capacity of areas designated for wind farm development in Tan 8 should be seen as upper limits is totally at odds with the guidance he developed and supported as environment minister in 2005.
“The First Minister should now concede that Tan 8 is not fit for purpose.”
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