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Powering Wales' Future

Climate change is a fact of life, and an issue Wales will need to tackle head on this century.

The Government has a key role in reducing our impact on the environment, and making it easier for individuals and families to lessen their impact. Not enough action has been taken to tackle the Welsh ecological footprint. We rely too heavily on dirty energy, and our homes and transport generate too much pollution.

Our core target is for Wales to aim, by 2050, to end our reliance on carbon-intensive energy generation, to lower our overall energy demand through improved energy efficiency, and to produce enough renewable and low-carbon to cover our own needs and provide export potential. We will do this by incentivising and nurturing renewable and low-carbon technologies, supporting microgeneration and community-owned generation, and improving our energy efficiency.

William Powell AM, spokesperson for Environment, Energy, and Sustainable DevelopmentOur current methods of energy generation are unsustainable. Renewable energy sources must become a key component of our integrated energy generation strategy. We will encourage further use of solar, wind and hydro-power energy in Wales, not only bringing down our carbon emissions, but allowing us to reap the benefits of new industries and jobs. We will use our Jobs and Growth innovation program to ensure we have the facilities to create new green jobs in Wales as we expand renewable energy.

Sustainable transport is another important way to lower our carbon emissions. The Liberal Democrats in Coalition have worked to electrify the South Wales and Valley's railway line before 2018.

We need to tackle the emissions from people's homes as a priority, as around 25% of carbon emissions are from housing. This offers benefits not just for the environment, but for our pocket too by increasing energy efficiency and reducing fuel bills. Going green must be an option for everyone, not just those who can easily afford it. Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Ed Davey, has developed the Green Deal, an assessed loan for owner occupiers and tenants to cover the upfront cost of energy-saving improvements such as insulation, draught-proofing and double glazing that is paid back through the savings made on your energy bills. We need to promote this scheme across Wales, so that going green can be an option for everyone. We would also outlaw the letting of the most inefficient commercial buildings (F and G rated) and move to include E and D rated buildings over time.

In government, Welsh Liberal Democrats will prioritise…

  • Enabling people and communities to develop as much community-scale and microgeneration energy as possible, especially solar and run-of-river hydropower. We would ensure that such projects are considered with a presumption in favour of development.

  • Encouraging community co-operatives by providing model legal and business frameworks; enabling local co-operatives to supply their own residents or local wholesalers; giving local communities the right to purchase a minimum portion of any wind or solar project larger than 1MW proposed in their area; and giving community co-operatives the right to develop renewable energy projects in or on suitable publically owned buildings or land where practicable.

  • Ensuring that people eligible for the Green Deal are offered information on that programme and that people who are either highly fuel poor or living in off-gas areas are the focus of Welsh Government fuel poverty programmes, providing access to money for insulation, new heating equipment such as boilers, cavity-wall insulation and other items.

  • Commissioning a full review of TAN8 so it can be updated to meet current technological requirements, and so that new SSA options can be explored to encourage new projects and reduce the concentration on Mid-Wales. We would aim for there to be a far greater focus on offshore wind. We will seek to minimise the impact of wind energy on the landscape where possible. We will encourage where possible the use of the latest technology and maximum innovation in relation to wind turbines and pylons, such as t-pylons and undergrounding. We will issue local authorities with specific guidance on single turbine developments. Our goal is to develop a more equitable solution for wind power, which would lessen the burden on mid-Wales.

  • Expanding Community Benefit Schemes to deliver them on a regional basis. This will be done so that residents along the transportation and grid corridors are also able to benefit from the economic benefits which come with renewables. We would encourage that a portion of community benefits is set aside to tackle fuel poverty and high energy bills in the community
  • Exlporing the feasibility of a national energy co-operative.

  • Encouraging the development of renewable energy generation by offering incentives to companies to install only the highest generating equipment.
  • Not supporting development of new fossil fuel power plants without appropriate Carbon Capture and Storage technology or in the absence of a clear plan to recover heat, and the use of coal and gas after 2030 should be dependent on CCS.

  • Introducing a new Technical Advice Note (TAN) to set out the environmental and health standards expected of fracking operations and to direct planning authorities to reject applications for fracking operations unless these standards are met.

  • Cutting expenditure on non-essential services, including moving scarce resources from awareness-raising schemes to projects which have a definable impact on reducing carbon emissions.

  • Providing accurate data on fuel poverty for planning by the public sector and consumers.
  • Removing the requirements for planning permission for small-scale microgeneration or Combined Heat and Power in private homes.
  • Continuing the roll-out of smart meters, giving people the chance to effectively monitor their own energy use and reduce their energy bills.
  • Making all new public sector buildings energy efficient, including micro-generation where appropriate.
  • Setting targets for reducing carbon use for all Welsh Government departments and quangos, and publishing performance figures.
  • Ordering an immediate assessment of the impact of all policies, programmes and public expenditure on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and Wales ecological/carbon footprint.
  • Including a requirement for a carbon assessment, not just a cost assessment of different options when the Government considers different policy options. We would publish a Carbon Budget alongside the Budget every year so that people can tell what impact our plans will have on the environment and ensure our budgets in government were consistent with our carbon and greenhouse gas reduction targets. We'll also add a carbon impact assessment to all our new laws, so that we can assess their environmental impact. Each year, we'll push for the National Assembly's Sustainability Committee to publish an environmental audit of the Government.
  • Requiring that any reorganization of public services - including the relocation of health services and the closure of schools - is assessed for its impact of carbon use resulting from changed travel patterns and new uses of buildings.
  • Use our Jobs and Growth Innovation Programme to ensure that we have the facilities available to create green jobs in Wales as we expand renewable energy.
  • Reforming the farming advice service so that it is more individualised and ensuring that advice is offered on sustainability as well as profitability. We will use this service to promote take-up of small energy facilities on farms.
  • Working with industry and local authorities to promote and increase the number of alternatively-fuelled public transport vehicles in use in Wales.
  • Establishing a suitable number of Marine Energy Hubs to provide a safe environment to manufacture and test emergent marine renewable technologies before deployment.

  • Supporting research into battery storage technology.

  • Working with energy developers to explore the possibility of constructing two or more Dinorwig-size pumped storage facilities, to enable the security of electricity supply around fluctuations in generation by renewable power facilities.

  • Supporting the development of tidal range power in the Severn estuary and Bristol Channel, using a range of technologies, as outlined by the Liberal Democrat Severn Tidal Forum.

Our Energy Policy Paper, Powering Wales' Future, was passed by Conference at our Spring 2014 Conference in Newport. The Welsh Liberal Democrat target is to produce enough renewable and low-carbon energy to cover our own needs and provide export potential by 2050.It proposed to do this by supporting communities to develop their own energy through a presemption in favour of microgeneration projects and supporting community energy co-operatives; expanding community benefit funds to a regional basis; reviewing TAN8 to meet current technological requirements and reduce the existing concentration on mid-Wales; encouraging the use of offshore wind resources by offering incentives to companies to only install the highest generating equipment; and denying planning permission for fracking operations until and unless safety and environmental protection can be guaranteed to the highest standards.