June 23, 2011

Welsh Government restrictions on wind farms rebuffed

BBC News, www.bbc.co.uk 23 June 2011

The Welsh Government has accused the UK Government of trying to “ride roughshod over Wales’ natural resources”.

The UK government has rebuffed guidance from the Welsh Government to limit the number of wind farms in mid Wales.

A senior Welsh Government source said the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) had effectively given itself the right to put unlimited wind farms anywhere in Wales.

Decc said energy policy was not devolved.

The National Policy Statement (NPS) on Renewables, published on Thursday by DECC, will guide all applications for major renewable projects such as big wind farms.

In it, the UK government says Welsh planning policy and advice will “provide important information to applicants of nationally significant energy infrastructure projects”.

But it adds: “Whether an application conforms to the guidance or the targets will not, in itself, be a reason for approving or rejecting the application.”

Hundreds of people took part in a demonstration on the steps of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay in May to voice their opposition to proposals for mid Wales.

First Minister Carwyn Jones last week said planning guidelines on the number of windfarms should in future be regarded as an upper limit.

But Thursday’s definitive guidance from Decc has led to an angry reaction from ministers in Cardiff Bay.

The UK government is responsible for planning applications for energy projects of more than 50MW, but the Welsh Government wants the power devolved to Cardiff.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Decc appear to want to ride roughshod over Wales’ natural resources.”

He said a clarification would be issued to planning authorities “to remind them of the primacy of Welsh planning guidance in relation to Wales, that the only planning guidance issued in Wales is from the Welsh Government, and that the NPS guidance holds no more weight here in devolved areas than that issued by the Scottish or Northern Irish Governments”.

A Decc spokesman said: “Welsh local authorities are responsible for consenting electricity generating infrastructure up to and including 50MW.

“However, energy policy is not devolved. The NPSs may be a material consideration in decision making by Welsh local planning authorities on applications that fall under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This is clearly stated in the NPSs.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/06/23/welsh-government-restrictions-on-wind-farms-rebuffed/