The Welsh government has identified 11 ‘priority’ areas to develop large-scale onshore wind and solar projects and four more for large-scale solar only. The push for more renewable construction comes in a draft National Development Framework now out for consultation.
The consultation says: “Welsh coal, steel and iron drove the industrial revolution, and our wind, solar and tidal resources point forward to a clean, sustainable future.”
It adds, “The challenges of climate change demand urgent action on carbon emissions and the planning system must help Wales lead the way in promoting and delivering a competitive, sustainable decarbonised society”. Decarbonisation and renewable energy commitments and targets “will be treated as opportunities to build a more resilient and equitable low-carbon economy, develop clean and efficient transport infrastructure, improve public health and generate skilled jobs in new sectors”.
The framework directs large scale wind and solar development towards 15 Priority Areas, where the Welsh Government will use its policy levers to assist in delivery of projects. There will be a presumption in favour of large scale on-shore wind and solar energy development in these areas, including “an acceptance of landscape change and a focus on maximising benefits and minimising impacts”. But communities will be protected from significant cumulative impacts if, for example, smaller settlements could be potentially surrounded by large wind schemes.
Developments can be proposed outside of the Priority Areas, but planning applications for large scale wind and solar “must demonstrate how local social, economic and environmental benefits have been maximised and that there are no unacceptable adverse effects”
The framework also said “in principle” renewable energy technologies other than wind and solar will be supported. The Welsh Government is preparing an Energy Atlas to identify opportunities for all types of renewable projects.
The consultation closes on 1 November.