The Minister also called on decision makers to respect maximum installation capacities for onshore wind and reminded them that Welsh Government policy provides the primary basis for consideration for local planning authorities.
The Minister’s letter, which is being issued to Heads of Planning in Wales, DECC, the IPC, Energy companies and other interested parties, sets out the Welsh Government’s continued commitment to planning guidance, Technical Advice Note 8 (TAN 8) and its wish to limit large scale wind farms to the 7 Strategic Search Areas (SSAs). The SSAs were deemed to be the most suitable location for wind development following a thorough process of independent assessment.
The Minister’s letter also makes clear the Government’s stance on maximum capacities and how these would be achieved.
The Minister said:
“Our Energy Policy Statement, the Low Carbon Revolution fully accounted for the maximum capacities we considered appropriate for the SSA’s, as set out in Tan 8 in 2005.
“These maximum capacities were assessed by independent consultants and provide for almost 1700MW of onshore wind across all SSAs. We anticipate that the remaining 300MW will come from a combination of developments under 25MW, brownfield sites and from community schemes and micro-generation. “
The Minister also recognised that the appropriate reinforcement of the transmission network in Mid Wales was necessary to ensure additional generating capacity and a stronger more reliable network for energy users.
“TAN 8 set out the Welsh Government’s view that connections from the individual turbines to a substation would be via underground cables, and that any connection from a substation to the nearest point of the distribution network would be achieved by a standard 3 wire system on wooden poles or by undergrounded lines.
“This remains the Welsh Government’s view and is reinforced by the approach set out within out the Renewable Energy Route Map for Wales in 2008, and the Energy Policy Statement in 2010.”
The Minister reaffirmed that providing development was limited to the maximum capacities, there would not be a need for the large, visually intrusive, high voltage grid network infrastructure and associated sub station of the kind proposed within Mid Wales. Where new grid is required, the Minister called on the grid company and regulator to ensure that it was located, designed and installed as sensitively as possible.
The Minister reminded decision makers in Wales, including the IPC and its successor, to recognise TAN 8 and to respect the finite environmental capacities set down in TAN 8 in 2005.
He made clear to planning authorities that Welsh Government policy provides the primary basis for consideration for local planning authorities when producing local development plans and is material when making decisions on individual planning applications.
“Our future well-being, both material and social, will be dependent on achieving sufficient supplies of affordable low carbon energy.
“Done successfully it will strengthen our economic well-being, improve the environment and help to address key social issues such as fuel poverty. We will look to work with our key partners deliver this.”