Welsh Govt accused of spiting English over green energy in Telegraph news article
The Welsh Government has been accused of “spoiling the countryside with wind farms to spite the English” in a bizzare Telegraph news article about green energy.
The newspaper claimed the Senedd was pressing ahead with onshore wind farm plans instead of offshore projects in order to avoid sharing control with the UK Government and sending fees to the Crown Estate.
In the article, the Welsh Government was accused of taking a “nationalist policy stance” on green energy.
Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, Fay Jones told the Telegraph that the Welsh Government “doesn’t seem to have offshore in its sights because it won’t derive all of the benefit from that.”
There are significant policy differences between the UK and Welsh governments when it comes to renewable energy – both of which have regulatory responsibilities.
Onshore wind projects are the responsibility of the Welsh Government and offshore wind and marine energy over 12 nautical miles from Welsh shores is not devolved.
The new generation of offshore wind projects tends to be more than 20 kilometres offshore.
Small projects of under 10 megawatts (MW) in Wales are decided on at local authority level, while those over 10MW go through the DNS (Developments of National Significance) planning process.
Onshore projects may be built on farmland or private land with the approval of the owners, or on forestry land owned by the Welsh Government and managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
The responsibility for offshore wind projects is split between the Crown Estate, which has to lease the seabed, and the UK Government for approval and grid connection.
The Crown Estate is an independent company which belongs to the monarch for the duration of their reign, though the revenue from its £16 billion property portfolio flows directly to the Treasury.
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts has recently made calls to devolve control over the Crown Estate’s properties in order provide better energy security.
The Crown Estate owns the UK seabed out to 12 nautical miles, and Ms Saville Roberts said an arrangement similar to Scotland would give Wales a direct say in how the profits from new floating wind farms planned off the Welsh coast would be spent.
The Telegraph reported that campaigners have warned that Cardiff is pressing ahead with onshore turbines to “thwart Crown Estate”.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Ross Evans, of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) said: “There is a reluctance to get behind it [offshore wind].
“The biggest reason is because they haven’t got control over it because it is up to the Crown Estate and the UK Government for the major projects offshore.”
Mr Evans also told the Telegraph there is a risk that offshore projects will not count towards the Welsh Government’s green energy targets if they come ashore in England.
He added: “They just want Wales to be a net exporter of energy and sod the rest of the UK, that is the impression I get.”
CPRW has argued that Wales could produce twice the energy it needs from offshore wind alone.
Proposals for far offshore wind power projects in the Irish and Celtic Sea combined could generate at least 100 TWH of energy, on the basis of recorded average wind speeds.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said, “We need a range of technologies, at different scales, to meet our future electricity needs as we move towards a net zero energy system.
“Onshore and offshore wind are cost-effective options to generate electricity and have a clear role to play.
“We are strong supporters of offshore wind and have been pressing the Crown Estate to develop a long term plan to secure green energy in a way that can bring economic benefits to our communities.”
Fay Jones MP was contacted for comment but did not provide a statement.
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