Wales missing out on investment and renewables jobs due to low consent rates for onshore wind farms
WALES could be missing out on millions of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs in renewable energy.
A round table discussion held by sister publication Swansea Bay Business Life and sponsored by RWE npower renewables with a wide range of experts concluded the problem lies with low consent rates for onshore wind farms in comparison to other parts of the UK.
Panellists at the event included Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, chair of the National Assembly's Environment and Sustainability Committee, Dr Ron Loveland, energy advisor to the Welsh Government, Peter Davies, sustainable futures commissioner & chair of the Climate Change Commission for Wales, Dr Tim Peppin, director of regeneration & sustainable development at the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and Julia Lynch Williams, managing director, RWE npower renewables.
Consent rates for onshore wind projects in Wales are roughly 18 per cent compared with 40 per cent in England and 67 per cent in Scotland.
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Wales also missed its 2010 target of generating 800 megawatts from onshore wind by 80 per cent.
Mr Davies said: "I am concerned our resistance to this is having a detrimental effect on the wider economic development of Wales.
"The future will be green growth – that is where the economy is headed. Yet confidence in investing in Wales is low.
"We have a raft of legislation coming through now that will help including the creation of Natural Resources Wales. Hopefully, we can now address these issues but we have a lot of ground to make up."
Dr David Clubb, director, RenewableUK Cymru, said a report he had seen suggested 2,000 jobs could be created over next two years and an economic investment of £60 million could be made for onshore wind in Wales if 2,000 mega-watts received consent.
He said: "So the effect is significant especially in rural areas where young people are leaving to find work elsewhere."
Graham Morgan, director of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, blamed the planning system: "The bureaucracy around consent is not limited to the energy sector it is pandemic across all of Wales.
"Business is now global and we need to move faster. When you are dealing with international companies and investment, that ability is critical. "The business community finds the process like walking through treacle."