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Fears of wind farm 'free for all' in Wales if new powers granted

A wind farm in North Wales. Photo: William Conran (50/50)PA Images

Proposed new powers giving Wales greater responsibility to decide whether to give the go-ahead to wind farms could "cover" the country with turbines, MPs have warned.

The renewable energy farms have become an increasingly common sight in the countryside, but they have often been met with anger and opposition for nearby residents who object to their noise and visual impact.

The Wales Bill would give the country authority to approve energy planning for all onshore wind farms, and offshore projects of up to 350MW.

Former Welsh secretary David Jones told the House of Commons the move could pave the way for an influx of farms across rural Wales.

The worrying fact is that although the Bill is silent on the subject, it devolves competence to the Assembly for all onshore wind farms, with no upper limit at all.

Given the thrust of policy at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, I suggest that the consequence of that will be a rush to develop wind farms in Wales.

Indeed, I suggest that there may be a free-for-all. Areas such as my constituency, Montgomeryshire and Brecon and Radnor, which already have a lot of wind farms, are likely to be under further pressure for wind farm developments.

– David Jones MP Conservative, Clwyd West
A wind farm in North Wales. Credit: William Conran (50/50)PA Images

We all pay a price - whenever we support a Bill that is as comprehensive as this one very often there are parts of the bill that you are very uncomfortable with.

I must say, devolving the power over wind farms up to 350 megawatts to the Welsh Government really does stick in my craw. It's a price I really do have to pay to support this Bill

– Glyn Davies MP Conservative, Montgomeryshire

Onshore wind farms have proved highly controversial in rural Wales, and the UK Government has rejected a series of applications to build them over the past 12 months.