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17/08/2017

Welsh wind farm plan could pose conflicts of interest for ministers and regulator

Words: Roger Milne

Welsh ministers and the country’s green regulator Natural Resources Wales could face conflicts of interest now that power company Innogy Renewables has been asked to develop plans for an onshore wind farm on land at Alwen Forest

The land, straddling the border between Conwy and Denbighshire, is leased to the Welsh Government by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and managed on behalf of the devolved administration by Natural Resources Wales.

Should a planning application be made, NRW has said it would act in an advisory capacity during the determination process.

A similar project at nearby Clocaenog proved controversial because of the overhead power lines required.

Marketing of the new project was carried out by Natural Resources Wales. This saw seven companies bid for the lease, with all of the proposals centring on the development of a wind farm.

Other technologies considered by developers included battery storage, solar, biomass and hydro and several bidders included battery storage in their proposals to varying degrees, but these were peripheral to the wind farm proposal.

As well as the technological and financial aspects, Innogy’s bid featured a strong community element – collaboration with Community Energy Wales focusing on community shared ownership of the project.

Environment secretary Lesley Griffiths said: “We are committed to reducing greenhouse emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050. Renewable energy developments, like the Alwen project, are key to creating a green economy and helping us meet our energy goal.

“I’m pleased the successful bid has a strong community benefit which will enable local people to buy into the scheme. This approach will ensure that money generated from the scheme will stay in the local community.”

Image credit | Shutterstock

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