Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence


Written Evidence from Denbighshire County Council

INTRODUCTION

  The paragraphs below highlight some of the key areas of recent work by Denbighshire County Council with regard to the provision of renewable energy.

CONSULTATION DRAFT TAN 8

  Denbighshire County Council responded to the Consultation Draft TAN 8 in October 2004. The comments were that of broad support to the principles of the TAN ie addressing this key but difficult area of sustainable development through making positive provision through the Strategic Search Areas (SSA) for wind power at a national level. However we also raised some concerns as follows:

    —    There was little justification or consultation of the renewable energy targets set—how did the Welsh Assembly Government arrive at 4TWh renewable energy target and the 800MW on shore wind energy capacity targets? (these were apparently non-negotiable during the consultation of TAN 8).

    —    It did not explain or justify the contribution from other renewable energy sources;

    —    The "presumption in favour of development" implied throughout the TAN required further clarification;

    —    There was uncertainty regarding how to deal with planning applications outside the strategic zones;

    —    There are concerns regarding the method of proposing the strategic zones, particularly as there is no public inquiry (which will eventually have to be incorporated into county development plans) because this essentially removes or certainly weakens local democracy;

    —    Too much emphasis on wind power and not enough on other "alternative" methods of energy production.

  The full version of Denbighshire's response is attached in a separate Appendix.

FINAL DRAFT TAN 8 (JULY 2005)

  On publication of the approved TAN 8, some but not all of the County Council's concerns had been addressed. The TAN reduced the size of the Clocaenog Forest SSA from 200MW to 140MW. It allowed limited local discretion in determining which sites should come forward by recommending "local refinement" exercises to the SSA.

  A partnership approach was formed between Denbighshire County Council and Conwy County Borough Council (the SSA falls within both counties) who jointly commissioned Arup consultants to look closely at landscape issues, biodiversity, technical feasibility etc of the SSA in order to try and determine the preferred areas within the SSA for wind turbines.

  The results of this study will eventually form Supplementary Planning Guidance for both Denbighshire and Conwy.

THE ARUP STUDY

  The Arup "SSA Refinement Study" is now almost complete—some additional work on biodiversity is currently being done. It has refined the SSA boundary, although the suggested capacity of the SSA is such that a large proportion of the SSA will need to be developed in any case.

THE JOINT DENBIGHSHIRE—CONWY WIND FARM SPG

  This SPG has been drafted and scrutinised by both Denbighshire and Conwy Environment Scrutiny and approved for public consultation by delegated Cabinet decision in Denbighshire and full Cabinet in Conwy. However formal consultation has not yet commenced. This is because biodiversity issues are being re-assessed in the Arup report although it is anticipated that these issues will have been resolved by the end of December 2005.

FUTURE TIMETABLE

  Denbighshire County Council and Conwy County Borough Council propose to consult the SPG during January and February 2006. It will be fully approved by April 2006. The refined SSA boundary will also be incorporated into the emerging Denbighshire Local Development Plan Proposals Map.

SECTION 36 ELECTRICITY ACT

  Another issue of note is that applications over 50MW are determined under Section 36 of the Electricity Act by the Department of Trade and Industry and not by the local planning authority. A LPA can force a public inquiry if it objects to such applications. Local Councillors have raised concerns over the implications of this Act upon local democracy.

PROMOTING EFFICIENT USE OF ENERGY

  Not enough focus is put on promoting more efficient use of energy by controlling new development, grant aiding innovation in building design that conserves energy or uses "alternative" energy, not enough resources allocated to Local Government to actively promote energy efficiency across the wide spectrum of responsibilities.

December 2005





 
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