Wind farm planning not fit for purpose - Mark Williams MP

2011 Mehefin 21 3:22 PM

Ceredigion's Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams has welcomed moves by the Welsh Government to limit the number of wind farm developments in TAN 8 areas, and First Minister Carwyn Jones's call for planning for energy developments over 50 MW to be devolved to the Welsh Assembly.

Last week, Carwyn Jones stated planning guidelines on the number of windfarms in TAN 8 areas should in future be regarded as an upper limit, and stated that the level of development in these areas would have an "unacceptable" impact on the local area.

A planning application to build the controversial windfarm at Nant Y Moch is expected at the end of July, but as this will be over 50 MW, the final decision will be taken by the Infrastructure Planning Commission, a quango set up by the previous Labour Westminster Government.

Talks had been planned to take place between the Westminster Government and the Welsh Government over devolving the power for energy consents over 50 MW, but the Labour Government in London revealed they had scrapped these discussions in 2009.

Commenting, Mark Williams said:

"This is an admission that Labour's planning policy is not working, and that Mid Wales has been forced to have more than its fair share of wind farms. We need to work much more closely with communities and ensure there is a fair distribution of energy projects, and they are not just concentrated in one area.

"It was always clear that TAN 8 would lead to a concentration of projects in small areas, and that this would have a significant impact on the natural environment and on local communities.

"Focusing projects in certain areas has not just led to over-concentration, but has also alienated communities. It is welcome that the figures in TAN 8 should be an upper limit, but there remains a pressing need to scrap TAN 8 and go back to the drawing board."

On devolving energy consents over 50MW to the Assembly, he added:

"The Liberal Democrats have long supported devolving planning for energy projects, and I have pressed on numerous occasions for these powers to be given to the Welsh Assembly, but it was the Labour Government in Westminster that ended discussions.

"I am pleased that Welsh Labour have come round to our argument that planning decisions on major projects in Wales should be taken in Wales, but it is in stark contrast to the previous Westminster Government's decision to give the power on all major planning projects to an unelected quango with no democratic accountability."


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