Leading renewable business body BWEA Cymru has expressed concern over a lack of progress in developing wind farms in Wales. Releasing a progress report ‘Wind energy in Wales: State of the Industry’ at its annual conference in Cardiff, BWEA Cymru highlighted the low level of approvals for wind energy projects in Wales.
Maria McCaffery MBE, BWEA chief executive, said: ‘The Welsh Assembly Government wants Wales to be self-sufficient in renewable energy by 2028. That bold vision requires the right political decisions to approve planning applications. As it stands today, decisions are just not being made.’
Scotland and Northern Ireland are set to meet their targets for wind energy, but Wales will miss its 2010 target for installing an extra 800MW of wind capacity. Less than 250MW have been approved since the target was set in 2005, and barely 100MW have actually been built.
The report exposes the backlog in granting planning permission for wind farms by local councils in Wales. The report recommends that the Welsh Assembly Government makes a renewed effort to get the councils to shorten the time it takes to determine these schemes to approve, which on average take more than a year.
The Welsh Assembly Government has stated that it is committed to revising the renewable energy targets but raising targets will not be sufficient unless the problems resulting in the failure to reach existing targets are addressed.
In the longer term, the Forestry Commission of Wales is releasing land for wind farm development and this could create up to 700MW of capacity. The bulk of these sites will be decided under a new fast-track regime by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) set up by the UK government under the 2008 Planning Act.
Under the Act, schemes of more than 50MW will be decided by the IPC, while the councils will remain responsible for applications of less than 50MW.