Welsh renewable and major infrastructure has developed rapidly in recent years. With a plethora of natural resources available, what are the biggest challenges facing development and how can these be overcome to ensure optimised infrastructure delivery?
Ahead of the Planning for Major Infrastructure and Renewable Energy Projects in Wales conference, which will see the Welsh Government’s chief planner, Rosemary Thomas, deliver an update on planning policy, Freshwater’s conference division, Waterfront Conference Company, discusses the challenges facing infrastructure and energy planning in Wales with some of the event’s key speakers. The Waterfront Conference Company asked: what is the biggest challenge facing major infrastructure and renewable energy planning in Wales?
Dr Roisin Willmott, director of Wales and Northern Ireland for RTPI Cymru, said: “A significant challenge for major infrastructure and renewable energy planning in Wales is the polarisation of viewpoints, without any real long-term answers to the delivery of energy.
“As the population grows and the use of energy increases through modern technologies, albeit some do work at saving energy, how can demand be met whilst not causing irreversible damage or depleting resources? There needs to be better, transparent information and understanding of the different technologies and their full impacts, and we all need to take responsibility and reduce our use of energy. We should be continually asking ourselves, how would we manage if the lights went out?”
Dr David Clubb, director of Renewable UK Cymru, commented: “The biggest challenge faced by the renewable energy sector is the 2GW ceiling for onshore wind in Wales, which could spell the death of the wind energy sector before the end of the decade.”
Steven Edwards, project manager at Scottish Power, said: “The biggest challenge is extent to which LPAs and statutory agencies balance substantial weight on national policy in a plan led system against regard to localised issues, leading to over emphasis on engaging on detailed issues resulting in increased delays and costs impacting on delivery timescales.”
Alister Kratt, partner at LDA Design, said: “Whilst The Planning Inspectorate covers England and Wales and is amongst other things, the Executive Agency of the Welsh Government, the operation of the planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) in Wales does not permit consideration of associated development, except in very limited situations i.e. ‘for surface works, boreholes or pipes associated with underground gas storage by a gas transporter in natural porous strata’.
“In England, associated development can form part of an application to the Planning Inspectorate for a Development Consent Order (DCO). In most cases in Wales, a separate application for the form of development sought- that may be reasonably considered as associated development - is required to be made to the authority, who normally consents such development with the loss of potential consequential benefits that the provision of associated development may provide as part of a comprehensive approach.”
Roisin, David, Steven and Alister will be joining the rest of the planning community in Wales, on October 15th, to discuss this, and other pertinent issues at the Planning for Major Infrastructure and Renewable Energy Projects in Wales conference. For more event information, and to view the programme visit the website.
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