Thursday, 19 May 2011


News that Conservative Minister Greg Clark agreed to meet with Plaid's Jonathan Edwards MP and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones to look at implementing the wider devolution of energy powers for Wales is good news. Currently the Welsh Government only has powers to determine planning applications up to 50MW on land, meaning that it cannot decide on a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay or larger energy generation schemes.

The Conservative and Labour manifestos for the Welsh general election both pledged to make the case for devolving powers over energy projects up to 100MW. Plaid has called for the full devolution of energy powers arguing that the figure of 100MW has been “plucked from thin air” and not based on any meaningful target. The only question is will Carlwyn's Labour lot step up to plate and make the most of this opportunity or not?

Some more better news is the UK Government’s announced u-turn on closing coastguard stations. The much criticised plans would have seen Wales’ three coastguard stations reduced to one, with the closure of facilities at Milford Haven and Holyhead, leaving just Swansea operational. The well organised and highly effective ‘Save Our Coastguard’ campaign in Milford Haven and the hard work of Plaid’s former AM Nerys Evans helped to put this issue firmly in the public eye.

The right mess of things made by Westminster has shown that Wales cannot seriously expect Westminster to look after issues in Wales. Under the original proposals our coastal waters would have been served by coastguard centres as far away as Aberdeen and the south coast of England. Skilled workers and important local knowledge of the area would have been lost.

The Con Dem Government did its best to try and sneak out the consultation in the first place, perhaps hoping that no one would notice what was being proposed. Westminster MPs were given little opportunity to scrutinise the proposals. There is also the alarming news that no discussions were held with the Welsh Government as much of this shambles took place during an important election period in Wales.

The danger is that the devil may yet remain in the detail, but the news that UK Ministers have extended a consultation on the plans and will allow the Commons transport committee extra time to complete its assessment of the proposals, is to be welcomed. Plaid and many people view the Coastguard as a vital emergency service for all our coastline, and has called for a consultation to look at devolving coastguard services to Wales.

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