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Carwyn Jones seeking devolved energy powers for Wales

Carwyn Jones is expected to ask the UK government to devolve powers over major energy projects to Wales.

The First Minister said it was unacceptable planning decisions on windfarms in Wales were being taken in London.

He said he will be raising the issue at the British-Irish Council in London.

Conservative MP Glyn Davies, who has campaigned against further windfarms in mid-Wales, said Welsh Government views were already taken into account.

Last week the Welsh Government announced plans to limit the number of windfarm developments, in the seven so-called Tan 8 areas.

It followed a big campaign in mid Wales against National Grid plans for a 19-acre substation and miles of pylons to serve new windfarm developments and any more turbines to add to the 200 already operating in Powys.

In May 1,500 people protested at the Senedd in Cardiff.

The final decision on whether to approve the pylons and substation, and on any windfarm capable of producing over 50 megawatt of energy, lies with Westminster.

Mr Jones told the BBC’s Politics Show: “The UK Government could turn around and say we are going to ignore Welsh planning policy and we will impose English planning policy on Wales and they could do it without reference to us.

“My view is we should have these powers in Wales in the same way they do in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“It’s important if we are going to get blamed for something that we actually have responsibility for it as well.”

But Mr Davies, the MP for Montgomeryshire, told BBC Wales the Welsh Government’s view would be listened to.

“In Westminster they can approve an individual project but what the minister will say and the planning process allows for is that the policy of the Assembly is a material consideration in dealing with any wind farm.”

He said there had had already been a referendum on further law making powers in Wales this year.

“I think to decide on the 3rd of March precisely what the powers are and in then months later to be looking at another area – I think that’s pretty confusing.

“There will be further discussion in the future about the position of devolution,” he added.

Labour MP for Ynys Mon Albert Owen, a member of the Energy and Climate Change select committee in Westminster, said Mr Jones was right to raise the issue as clarity was needed.

He told BBC Wales: “It’s not just about rushing things through, it’s about a stronger community engagement.

“We do have to look at the best way to limit the impact on the environment and that has to occur at every level, whether it’s local, national or international.

But Marcus Trinick QC, director of Renewable UK, said: “I can see why the Welsh Government wants that power back but it hardly encourages the belief that their own policy will be delivered.

“I can also understand how people in Powys feel but it wasn’t the developers who concentrated activity in Powys, it was the Welsh Government’s own policy that said ‘Let’s not develop all over Wales, let’s concentrate development in a few areas’.

“In March last year the Welsh Government increased its targets from 800 megawatt to 2,000 megawatt and they are now denying the inevitable consequences of their own policies – it’s quite strange.”