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Campaigners angry after wind farm moratorium rejected without discussion

12 Dec 2023 5 minute read
Image by Michael Garlick (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Martin Shipton

Campaigners who want a temporary halt on the granting of permission for onshore wind farms in Wales say they are furious after Senedd Members decided not to discuss their petition because Climate Change Minister Julie James had written a letter saying she didn’t agree with it.

The petition said that to “prevent wide scale and needless damage to the Welsh countryside”, there should be a moratorium on all onshore wind and ground-based solar developments above 10MW until the potential for offshore renewable energy projects had been fully assessed.

Petitions are considered by the Senedd’s Petitions Committee if they get more than 250 signatures and for a full plenary debate if more than 10,000 people sign them. This petition gained 8,315 signatures, more than half of which from people living in Wales.

Threat

In her letter to the committee, Ms James said: “During this climate emergency, which is a serious threat, we need to ensure that we bring to an end the burning of fossil fuels. To achieve this, we need to harness the renewable potential of Wales for our energy needs.

“Our recent consultation on our renewable energy targets analysed our energy needs and that we will need a range of renewable technologies of different types and scales to address the climate crisis and meet our energy targets.

“Wind energy, along with solar, are the most mature technology and these are likely to make the most significant contribution to our energy needs in the short to medium term. We anticipate much of this will be offshore, but we will need further onshore generation. What the evidence base supporting our consultation made clear is that we cannot rely on one type of renewable energy source to support our long-term energy needs.

“While offshore wind will contribute to our electricity needs in the future, without the addition of a range of other renewable energy sources, including onshore wind, we will have insufficient renewable electricity generation to meet the equivalent of our needs.”

Economic opportunity

Ms James stated that offshore wind was already contributing to Wales’ energy mix, and the potential for floating offshore offered “a huge economic opportunity” for local suppliers and our coastal communities. She added: “However, a number of key levers that the offshore wind industry needs lie in the hands of the UK Government. Without a supportive framework from the UK Government, I have concerns that the offshore wind sector will not provide the electricity generation and economic opportunities we know it can. We have made clear to the UK Government, and the Crown Estate, that more work is needed to provide greater levels of certainty to the industry.

“We have a robust planning framework … All planning decisions for renewable technology, including onshore wind, are required to take into account environmental factors and public feedback. Anyone is free to submit a planning application for whatever proposed development and restricting this freedom is not the best way forward, and I do not support the call for a moratorium on onshore wind or solar farms as they still have an important role in the future energy mix.”

Danger

Dr Jonathan Dean of CPRW, the Welsh countryside charity which organised the petition, submitted to the committee a response to Ms James’ letter which agreed that action needed to be taken to combat the climate emergency, but said there was a danger that the nature emergency was being overlooked. He stated: “We have concerns regarding the criteria used to select appropriate locations …

“We do not believe that the right balance is currently being struck between addressing the need for renewable energy developments while taking proper account of their environmental impacts, individually and cumulatively. Their impact on landscape, forestry, farmland, habitat and biodiversity loss is not being properly considered and we are seeing multiple applications for developments in inappropriate locations.

“The Minister’s letter states that there is a robust planning framework. While all planning decisions for renewable technology, including onshore wind, are required to take into account environmental factors and public feedback, ultimately it is a single Minister who makes the decision, who is not required to take regard of any advice and who has no publicly accepted guidance or criteria to draw upon.

“The Minister’s letter states that she does not support the call for a moratorium on onshore wind or solar farms. CPRW are not asking for a cessation or ban on all onshore wind, merely a pause while the enormous potential of offshore wind is properly assessed and planned for, with smaller scale, community schemes given a focus onshore. We would ask the Minister to consider again.”

Moratorium

Tory MS Joel James told the committee: “The Minister won’t necessarily comment on planning applications and made it clear that she doesn’t support a moratorium, and I don’t necessarily know what more we can do … I think closing the petition is probably the best bet.”

The committee’s Labour Chair Jack Sargeant said: “The Minister has been fairly clear in her response to not support a moratorium, so I think it would be difficult for the committee to do much more.”

All members of the committee agreed and the petition was closed.

Jenny Chryss, who chairs the ReThink group which has been campaigning against Bute Energy’s plans to build a network of wind farms and pylons across mid Wales, said she and fellow campaigners were appalled that there had been no substantive discussion of the petition by members of the committee: “This is an absolute breach of democracy and completely unforgivable,” she said.

“It seems that whatever a particular Minister doesn’t support and doesn’t want discussed doesn’t get discussed by an all-party committee set up to examine petitions submitted by members of the public and public organisations. It’s not only undemocratic but totally disrespectful to the more than 8,000 people who signed.”


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A.Redman
A.Redman
2 months ago

If a petition of 8,000 is ignored and another petition of 400,000 plus vs.20mph limit on flawed evidence is ignored,it just proves that the Labour Government is not concerned about those most affected by it’s decision making process,if it is wind farms (pylons), speed restrictions and the extra pollution produced by the slow speeds on modern engines. They are voted into represent the views of their constituents,not that anyone would know!!!

A Evans
A Evans
2 months ago
Reply to  A.Redman

Drakeford’s Wales!

Bethan
Bethan
2 months ago

I don’t have the tolerance for these anti-wind turbine people anymore.

Dr Jonathan F Dean
Dr Jonathan F Dean
2 months ago
Reply to  Bethan

You didn’t read the detail then – we were asking for mass offshore wind to reach net zero, rather than tokenism onshore, which will never reach net zero

Wales can easily generate twice the energy to reach net zero with offshore wind, yet the Welsh Government is only focusing on onshore wind, which will never have to capacity to reach net zero. Landscapes, habitats and livelihoods will be wrecked because they refuse to address offshore

Read the evidence submitted to the committee

Jeff
Jeff
2 months ago

World is burning. I am not greatly enamoured of the way these are funded but we need them. Like yesterday.

Dr Jonathan F Dean
Dr Jonathan F Dean
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

It’s offshore wind we need, which the Welsh Government are ignoring. There isn’t the capacity onshore to reach net zero, while there is twice the capacity offshore

George Herraghty
George Herraghty
2 months ago

Since when did the industrial scale slaughter of Birds and Bats, by the million, become ‘Clean Green’ energy? Every year in Spain alone — according to research by the conservation group SEO/Birdlife — between 6 and 18 million, yes million, birds and bats are killed by wind farms. They kill roughly twice as many bats as birds. The Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle is at the point of extinction due to wind farms. Recent research from around the world indicates horrific bird mortality rates:- Spain – 330 Birds per turbine per year Germany – 309 Birds per turbine per year Sweden –… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago

How dare you deny the divine validity of the Green Gospel ? The industrialisation of unspoilt rural areas is blessed by the prophet Julie James. Got to be good, innit ?

Karl
Karl
2 months ago

Why not do both, after all we are decades behind the promises of weak politics. Get on assessing the offshore aspect, while not holding back on onshore. Because otherwise we will end up more like Englands ban on onshore, it put them yrs behind us and still heavily reliant on bad sources of generation. I am sick of gutless politicians and the moaning anti wind farm fools who worship the hate mail and other sources of bad media.

George Herraghty
George Herraghty
2 months ago
Reply to  Karl

In our headlong rush to ‘save the Planet’ perhaps a sobering reality check for the deluded is long overdue? A small, ever-so-green, 100Mw wind farm needs 30,000 tons of Iron ore; 50,000 tons of concrete and 900 tons of non-recyclable plastic. For the same power from an ever-so-green solar farm you need to increase that by 150%. An electric car battery weighs half a ton, making just one requires shifting 250 tons of earth somewhere else on the planet. Most are bought as second ‘virtue’ cars by the rich metropolitan elite. All require what are called ‘rare earths’, so a… Read more »

Dr Jonathan F Dean
Dr Jonathan F Dean
2 months ago
Reply to  Karl

We can do both, but some of the current onshore proposals are simply shocking. Turbines 250 m high, normally only used at sea, proposed a few hundred metres from homes

Dr Jonathan F Dean
Dr Jonathan F Dean
2 months ago

I was very disappointed the committee TOTALLY missed that the request was conditional! until the potential for offshore renewable energy projects had been fully assessed Just a suggestion … something more the committee could have done was request the minister assess the potential for offshore wind. It would take about 30 seconds as the Electricity System Operator has already done it. It would reveal that onshore wind will never achieve net zero, while offshore wind will do so twice over … this conclusion plays to Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives! Stunning that none of them could think of… Read more »

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