Most people in Wales want the National Assembly to have power to decide on large wind farms, a survey reveals today.
Big protests emerged in places like Anglesey and Powys over the development of wind energy and its impact on the landscape.
Now a poll for the Silk Commission on devolution reveals 70% believe big renewable energy projects over 50MW capacity should be decided on in Cardiff rather than Westminster.
Peter Ogden, director of the Campaign for Protection of Rural Wales, said: “Wind energy has captured the public’s imagination more than anything in recent years in terms of the impact of the countryside.
“Anyone who believes in true democracy would agree if it’s affecting local people, the Welsh Government should have a major influence in the determination of these schemes.”
But the bigger picture was that energy policy would remain at Westminster, he said.
Almost two in three people (63%) said that policing should also be devolved while 58% also favoured broadcasting and media regulation.
According to the survey by Beaufort Research on behalf of the commission, 62% would like to see increased powers for the Assembly, including the 9% in favour of independence, with 24% in favour of the status quo.
Around two-thirds of those in favour want this within the next five years or beyond rather than in the next year – suggesting there is not strong demand for urgent or immediate action.
And a significant minority of people wanted key controls returned to Westminster over the NHS (27%) and education (20%), the Welsh Government’s biggest areas of policy.
Some 93% believed that the Assembly should retain control of tourism with 84%-88% in support for retention of powers on housing, agriculture and roads.
Eight in 10 people trust the institution to act in Wales’ best interests while most believed the UK Parliament should retain responsibility for defence and foreign affairs (82%) and the courts and criminal justice system (63%).
The welfare and benefit system appeared to be an area where the Welsh public were most undecided about who should have control.
The Welsh public were more likely to believe that the Assembly had done a better job (48%) for Wales rather than a worse job (8%) than the UK Parliament would have done. However, a significant proportion (35%) said that it had made no difference.
Chair of the commission Paul Silk said: “These results provide a real insight into the public’s views on the current powers of the National Assembly for Wales.
“Whilst they show a continued growth in support for the National Assembly as an institution and for it to have further powers, we need to be mindful that the people of Wales have differing views.”
The poll is part of the commission’s work to investigate the future scale of devolution and make recommendations to the UK Government.
“Our terms of reference are clear that our recommendations must command a wide degree of public support,” said Mr Silk, a former clerk to the Assembly.
The commission is still taking evidence until September 27.
A Welsh Labour spokesperson said: “This poll is a welcome endorsement of Welsh devolution and highlights public support for taking the Silk recommendations forward.
“Whilst support for the devolution of further powers to the National Assembly continues to grow, support for independence remains stagnant at a paltry 9%. Many people in Plaid and beyond will be questioning their relevance.”
Welsh Lib Dem AM Peter Black said: “Welsh Liberal Democrats have been arguing for greater devolution for over a century and we will continue to make that argument.”
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