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Promised bill offers Welsh ministers new planning powers over energy projects

Words: Roger Milne
Wind farm

This week’s Queen’s Speech announced government proposals for a Wales Bill which will involve devolving powers to Welsh ministers over licensing of oil and gas exploration, including fracking.

It will also see powers devolved for consenting for all onshore wind schemes in Wales and all other types of onshore and offshore energy projects of up to 350-megawatts in capacity.

The bill would give Welsh ministers the final say over the Swansea tidal power lagoon.

The legislation was previously announced in May 2015's Queen's Speech, but the draft version, published last October, attracted widespread criticism that it could actually reduce the powers of the Welsh Assembly.

A final version was due to be presented to the UK Parliament by March, but former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb - since replaced by Alun Cairns - paused the process until this summer.

Carwyn Jones, back as first minister for Wales, has announced that his minority Labour administration will not bring forward any new legislation over the coming three months.

He explained this was to allow political groups in the assembly time to establish a new way of doing law-making in Wales.

However, he has said his government would establish a new National Infrastructure Commission and a new Welsh development bank.

“We will also seek to amend the current Welsh language measure” he revealed.

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