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Welsh minister clarifies policy on locally owned energy projects

Words: Roger Milne

Environment minister Lesley Griffiths has reiterated the administration’s commitment to encouraging more locally owned energy generation in Wales.

Her comments came as the Welsh Government published a written statement that clarified that one gigawatt (GW) of renewable electricity and heat must be locally owned by 2030. This also covers schemes in Welsh waters.

In addition, all new energy projects must have “an element” of local ownership from 2020.

At the end of 2018, Wales had 778 megawatts of renewable energy capacity in local ownership.

Since 2010, renewable electricity generation in Wales has trebled. In 2018, renewable generators in Wales produced electricity equating to 50 per cent of that used in the country.

The minister stressed “Our target is to generate the equivalent of 70 per cent of Wales’s electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2030.”

This week’s written statement pointed out that national planning policy requires planning authorities to plan positively for the use of locally generated electricity and heat to help meet the national target.

The latest version of Planning Policy Wales (PPW) states that planning authorities should use their evidence base to inform policies and proposals for local energy.

“Development plans should support identified opportunities for district heating, local renewable and low-carbon energy generation schemes, and the collocation of new proposals and land allocations with existing developments, heat suppliers and heat users.”

The statement insisted: “The Welsh Government supports renewable and low-carbon energy projects developed by communities or which benefit the host community or Wales as a whole. The social, environmental and economic benefits associated with any development should be fully factored into, and given weight in, the decision-making process.

“However, planning decisions must be based on an assessment of the impacts of the proposed development, irrespective of who the applicant is.”

Image credit | National Assembly for Wales