Ministers knew four years ago that potential bids to develop wind farms in rural Wales would outstrip targets, an AM claimed yesterday.
Controversial plans to erect wind turbines, a power supply sub station and pylons across mid Wales prompted a 1,000-strong protest outside the Senedd in May.
Now Montgomeryshire AM Russell George says that ministers were already aware that wind farm development could exceed predicted capacity.
Mr George, the Conservative shadow environment minister, said: “Ministers’ claims that they were first aware in April 2011 of the over-capacity of windfarm development areas is totally at odds with their own report from 2007.
“This document clearly shows that the scale of windfarm developments being proposed in Mid Wales was extreme and unrealistic.
“This is further evidence questioning Welsh Labour Ministers’ claims that they could not have foreseen the considerable interest from wind turbine developers in construction across Mid Wales.”
The Welsh Government mapped out its strategy for wind energy in a revised Technical Advice Note, TAN 8, in 2005, designating seven areas of Wales, including the Clocaenog Forest, Denbighshire, as sites for development.
“Ministers need to explain why they failed to react to warnings from authoritative sources that windfarm proposals exceeded capacity.
“Welsh Labour Ministers are desperately trying to distance themselves from their own policies which led directly to the prospect of over-development on some of Wales’ most beautiful landscapes.”
The AM called for a review of TAN 8 which he claimed was ‘losing all credibility’.
“Ministers need to come clean and accept that TAN 8 is deeply flawed and should undergo a thorough cross-party review.”
The review, published in October 2007 for the Welsh Assembly Government’s Planning Division, showed that in some areas interest already outstripped TAN 8’s ‘upper limits’ by almost four times.
The TAN8 target for the seven strategic areas was a capacity of 1120MW but total interest in 2007 topped 2490MW.
Environment minister John Griffiths said: “The Welsh Government has been monitoring the levels of developer interest in the Strategic Search Areas annually since Technical Advice Note 8 was published in 2005.
“The most recent monitoring relates to April 2011 and it was this data which confirmed the high levels of developer interest in the Strategic Search Areas.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We have made our position on TAN 8 clear. In our view, the TAN 8 capacities should be regarded as upper limits and we have called upon the UK Government to respect this position and to not allow proliferation when they take decisions on individual projects in Wales.
“Many of the issues surrounding the proposed pylons in Mid Wales do not arise from TAN 8 but from the fact decision making powers on large energy projects and grid infrastructure do not lie with the Welsh Government. It is unacceptable that decision making powers on such fundamental parts of our infrastructure are not devolved.”
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