Wind farms: AMs call for speedier onshore development

Wind farm The report into energy planning was compiled by a cross-party committee

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Onshore wind farm development should be speeded up due to a backlog in planning applications, says a report by members of the Welsh assembly

A report by AMs urges Welsh government ministers to gain more powers and be clearer on green energy.

It highlights how some communities feel they do not benefit from living near wind turbines.

The Welsh said it recently set out its vision for energy and will respond to the report in due course.

Start Quote

We are on the side of the community because you cannot develop energy without having an impact”

End Quote Dafydd Elis Thomas AM Chairman, environment and sustainability committee

The report into energy and planning in Wales by a cross-party committee of assembly members follows a year of taking evidence from interested groups.

It favours renewable energy, but offers 70 recommendations to deal with many controversial issues from the planning process to transporting large turbines parts to where they are needed.

The assembly environment and sustainability committee report calls for a protocol to be established for developers to pass benefits on to communities and prepare a detailed target for renewable energy.

Committee chair Dafydd Elis Thomas said the report recommendations "demand a clear response from all the players involved", including the Welsh government, the National Grid, and private sector companies.

'CRUMBS OFF THE TABLE'

Farmer David Oliver from Cefn Coch, Powys, opposes wind farms

"There has to be some benefit for the community," he said. "It is us here that has to live with the development.

"The communities need to feel a part of what is going on. Here, it is big business.

"It is corporations from abroad that are making the money and we are just getting the crumbs off the table."

"We are very critical, for example, of the huge delay that there's been in developing the proper protocol on community benefit from onshore wind turbines."

He said the committee was "not in the business of taking sides between government, developers and community", adding "we are on the side of the community because you cannot develop energy without having an impact".

"The question has to be what is the balance in a world where we are facing serious issues involving climate change, and we must therefore substantially reduce the carbon element in generating electricity.

"How do we balance that with the natural heritage and the undoubted beauty of our countryside?"

RenewableUK Cymru, the trade and professional body representing the wind and marine energy industry in Wales, welcomed the "balanced approach" taken by the committee and the "majority view that onshore wind is currently the only viable alternative that can be implemented in time and at the right scale".

Director Dr David Clubb said: "There are a number of positive recommendations that will help to develop a strong, dynamic and responsible renewable energy industry in Wales.

"The sector remains committed to the creation of green jobs, environmental improvements and community benefits across Wales."

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