The new addition of Planning Policy Wales has been developed to assist Wales in its ambition to move away from a reliance on high carbon forms of energy and towards much lower carbon and sustainable alternatives. It complements the Assembly Government’s Energy Policy Statement, which was launched last year.
Speaking about the new planning policy, Environment Minister, Jane Davidson said:
“Climate change continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the world. The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to tackling climate change and to taking action to reduce carbon emissions. One of the key ways we can ensure this is through a transition to more renewable forms of energy.
“The planning system has an important role to play in this transition. The updated planning policy which I am launching today provides a framework that will support renewable energy projects.
“It encourages planning authorities to actively plan for low carbon projects and to assess their own potential to accommodate them which can only be good news for a greener and cleaner Wales.
“However the planning system is just one of a number of tools we are using to support renewable energy. Last summer I launched a support programme to help Welsh businesses achieve the necessary accreditation to install microgeneration technology such as solar panels and heat pumps.
“Since the launch of the programme in August the number of Welsh installers has increased by an impressive 261% and now stands at a much healthier 84. I hope this number will continue to rise.
Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, said:
"We've been listening to the concerns of the business community and they were asking for an improved planning process which was more consistent and more effective.
"To remain competitive Welsh businesses must be able to invest in new developments in an efficient and timely way. The updated planning policy for the renewable energy sector announced today reflects our commitment to improving Planning Policy Wales and our commitment to developing the green economy in Wales.”
The new policy provides planning authorities with updated guidance on the need for Local Development Plans and decisions on planning applications to reflect Welsh Assembly Government priorities.
It also identifies different scales of low carbon and renewable energy and recognises that major energy proposals over 50MW are not determined through the planning system and are not devolved to Wales.
The policy does not change the principle of Strategic Search Areas for large onshore wind developments, as outlined in the Welsh Assembly Government’s Technical Advice Note (TAN) 8 in 2005.