Wales denied powers over large scale energy projects - Mick Bates AM

2009 Hydref 20 4:30 PM

Shadow Minister for the Environment and Sustainability, Mick Bates AM,has criticised the UK Government for failing to trust Wales with thepower to decide on energy infrastructure projects over 50MW, insteadtransferring power to the unelected Infrastructure Planning Commission.

The Welsh Assembly Government has the final say on planning for anyenergy project of less than 50 MW. Welsh Ministers have argued for thedevolution of this power and there have been discussions on the matterbetween the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform,the Wales Office and the Welsh Assembly Government with a view todevolving this responsibility. Last year the UK Government introduced anew planning regime which transfers decision making for energy projectsover 50MW to the Infrastructure Planning Commission.

Commenting after questioning the First Minister in the chamber, WelshLiberal Democrat Mick Bates AM stated:

"In Wales we have vast potential to generate our own renewable energyand yet we have one of the worst carbon footprints in the world. If weare to make progress to reduce our carbon footprint, Wales must have theright to set its own priorities and the power to decide our owndirection for generating electricity and cutting emissions.

"Large scale renewable energy projects will play a key role in reducingcarbon emissions and help to reduce our dependence on the use of fossilfuels. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have long argued that Wales shouldhave the final say over energy projects above 50MW, which would enabledecisions over large energy developments to be made at a more locallevel.

"Yesterday the Labour Government in Westminster admitted to my colleagueMark Williams MP that these discussions have been abandoned and thispower will remain with the new Infrastructure Planning Commission.

"It is clear that the Labour UK Government feels Wales cannot be trustedwhen it comes to energy projects of national significance and wouldprefer to open the door for major nuclear or renewable projects in Waleswithout any elected body having a say."

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