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  6. Welsh minister clarifies wind farm planning context

Welsh minister clarifies wind farm planning context

Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths has written to interested parties to confirm the Welsh Government’s commitment to promoting onshore wind development while limiting development of large scale wind farms to seven specially selected areas as set out in Technical Advice Note (TAN) 8.

The minister also urged decision makers to respect maximum installation capacities for onshore wind and reminded them that Welsh Government policy should be the primary basis for consideration for local planning authorities.

The letter, sent to Heads of Planning in Wales, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Infrastructure Planning Commission, energy companies and other interested parties, sets out the Welsh Government’s reliance on TAN 8 and its wish to limit large scale wind farms to the seven Strategic Search Areas (SSAs).

The letter has clarified the Welsh Government’s stance on maximum capacities and how these would be achieved.

The minister said: “Our energy policy statement, the Low Carbon Revolution fully accounted for the maximum capacities we considered appropriate for the SSAs, as set out in Tan 8 in 2005.

“These maximum capacities were assessed by independent consultants and provide for almost 1700MW of onshore wind across all SSAs.  We anticipate that the remaining 300MW will come from a combination of developments under 25MW, brownfield sites and from community schemes and microgeneration. “

The minister also recognised that the appropriate reinforcement of the transmission network in Mid Wales was necessary to ensure additional generating capacity and a stronger more reliable network for energy users.

He said: “TAN 8 set out the Welsh Government’s view that connections from the individual turbines to a substation would be via underground cables, and that any connection from a substation to the nearest point of the distribution network would be achieved by a standard three wire systems on wooden poles or by undergrounded lines.

“This remains the Welsh Government’s view and is reinforced by the approach set out within out the Renewable Energy Route Map for Wales in 2008, and the Energy Policy Statement in 2010.”

The minister reaffirmed that providing development was limited to the maximum capacities, there would not be a need for the large, visually intrusive, high voltage grid network infrastructure and associated substation of the kind proposed within Mid Wales.

Where new overhead power lines were is required, Griffiths urged the National Grid and the energy regulator Ofgem to ensure that it was located, designed and installed as sensitively as possible.

Read the minister’s letter.


Roger Milne

7 July 2011