The Minister announced that the Welsh Government is pushing forward work to research how the consenting process for renewable energy projects in Wales is currently working.
The research will seek to establish an evidence base and uncover any factors that might be delaying consents for renewable energy projects.
This is in response to claims from some quarters that the current system has restricted the development of a number of renewable energy projects and that it is contributing to a climate of uncertainty.
The Environment Minister said:
“Renewable energy really is the future; it will not run out, will help us to reduce our carbon emissions and is not dictated by factors, such as oil supply, which are outside our control.
“As a Government we are committed to making sure that Wales is at the forefront of the transition to a low carbon economy and is taking full advantage of the associated economic and job opportunities.
“As part of this work we need to make sure that all the supporting policies and processes are in place to support a thriving renewable energy sector.
“Planning and other consenting processes are important considerations in this so we need to fully explore whether these are delaying renewable energy projects unnecessarily and whether they are fit to support our green energy aspirations. Once we fully understand the issues, we can then take prompt and effective action to address those issues which fall within our control.
“We have now appointed Hyder Consulting to undertake this research on our behalf. Once they have delivered their findings they will be considered along with our wider work to review the planning system in Wales.”
The research will be conducted over two phases. A report on the findings of Phase 1 is expected by the end of March this year with the findings of Phase 2 expected by the middle of July.
The contract for the research project was awarded to Hyder Consulting following the use of an established Welsh Government Call-Off Procurement Framework.