Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from
Andrew Davies AM, Minister for Economic Development, Welsh Assembly
Thank you for your letter of 19 March inviting
the Welsh Assembly Government to submit a memorandum covering
issues of interest to the Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry
into Renewable energy.
This is undoubtedly a topical issue given the
interest generated in the PIU's Report "Energy 2050".
We all recognise the threat to the world that global warming poses
and the possible economic, environmental and social consequences.
Reducing the emission of greenhouse gases therefore has a strong
economic, humanitarian and moral imperative and must be a mainstay
in future energy policy.
From the energy perspective the Welsh Assembly
Government's aim is to secure the strongest economic development
policies to underpin growth and prosperity in Wales. And in this
to recognise the importance of clean energy development both as
an economic driver and in taking forward the Assembly's statutory
commitment to sustainable development. This was endorsed in our
economic development strategy, "A Winning Wales" which
recognises the potential for Wales to lead in growth sectors including
clean and renewable energy and low carbon technologies.
Energy is a reserved function and although direct
energy powers available to the Assembly are limited to energy
efficiency, our influence can be considerable. There is a pressing
need for the Welsh Assembly Government to help shape the future
direction of energy policy in Wales. We have made a start on this
work through a strategic assessment of renewable energy potential
in Wales and the Assembly's Economic Development Committee (EDC)
is reviewing energy in Wales with a 2020 timeframe. This review
is looking at the long term scenarios for (non-transport) energy
production and use in Wales and will inform the Assembly Government's
development of a strategic framework most appropriate to achieving
the optimum use and generation of energy in Wales by 2020. Information
on the work of the EDC review including a draft renewables report
and potential targets can be accessed on the internet.
The Welsh Assembly Government will not reach a consensus on a
definitive strategic framework on energy in Wales, until after
the EDC has completed its review and reported.
However, the planning functions are devolved,
and updated national planning policy guidance on renewables is
due to be issued in Planning Policy Wales (PPW) later in March
2002. This states that renewable energy schemes, including windfarms,
should be facilitated where they are environmentally and socially
acceptable. More detailed planning guidance needed to support
the policy outlined in PPW will be forthcoming in the revised
version of Technical Advice Note 8 Renewable Energy.
A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) has been set
up to progress the review of TAN 8 in an inclusive way, and consists
of a range of those with an interest in planning policy for renewable
energy. There are encouraging signs that the industry and other
stakeholders see the potential of an analytical tool, being developed
as part of a Countryside Council for Wales research project, designed
to help local authorities identify the key impacts of proposals.
It is hoped that the tool will be refined and further developed
so that it can underpin future planning policy at both local and
In addition, the Welsh Assembly Government has
recently published its proposals for improving certainty and confidence
in the planning system in its consultation paper "Planning:
Delivering for Wales". The objectives of this paper, particularly
improving the quality and speed of outcomes, are key to finding
our way towards an integrated solution to renewable energy.
In your letter you have asked for information
on the planning process itself. As you will know, planning applications
for renewable energy developments of 50MW are determined by Local
Planning Authorities. There is a right of appeal to the Assembly
against the decision made, or the conditions attached to it. Furthermore,
the Assembly may be requested to call-in an application for its
own determination. Although not every application is called in,
several have been called in recently. This allows an open debate
of the issues and does not necessarily lead to refusal. We are
speeding up procedures and there are currently five applications
currently called in(NBall under 50 MW).
Mynydd Colgau, Montogomeryshire.
Cum Llwyd, Montgomeryshire.
Nant Carfan, Montgomeryshire (this
is also a recovered appeal).
Tir Mostyn/Foel Goch, Denbigh Moors.
Cefn Gelligaer, Merthyr.
In the circumstances I have outlined, it would
therefore be impossible to provide you with definitive answers
to your questions at this stage. I hope however, that I have set
out the context of the Assembly's role in relation to energy policy
and that this together with the link to the EDC's review of energy
will address many of the issues in which you are interested. If
it would be helpful, by officials with responsibility for energy
policy will be happy to assist if you wish to explore some of
these issues further.
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