Plaid’s Jonathan Edwards MP has called on Welsh MPs from all parties to support a move which would transfer power over energy from a UK quango to the Welsh Government. The power to decide on a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay or a tidal reef across the Severn estuary would be transferred to Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, who has the Welsh Government's energy portfolio.
If an amendment to the Localism Bill (tabled by Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards) that has been selected for debate in the Commons tonight (Tuesday) is passed – the amendment to the Localism Bill would give the Welsh Assembly the right to decide upon planning applications for electricity generating stations in Wales, and offshore in Welsh waters.
In their recent election manifestos the Conservatives and Labour Party's pledged to double the current limit of Welsh Government powers to grant planning permission from 50MW to 100MW. Plaid argues that both figures are arbitrary, rather than evidence-based, and that a single consistent Welsh approach to energy would achieve the best results for renewable energy in Wales.
At the moment the Assembly only has the power to deal with applications of up to 50MW on Welsh land while the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) deals with applications greater than that. At sea, the Marine Management Organisation has the power to grant consent for applications of up to 100MW, with the IPC having the power above that figure. The Localism Bill plans to scrap the IPC, with the powers being returned to the Secretary of State in Westminster. Plaid argues that it is essential for consistency that all energy decisions for Wales are taken by the Welsh Assembly.
Jonathan Edwards MP said:
“If Carwyn Jones is in any way serious about Labour’s claim to be standing up for Wales, then his party must vote to give him full powers for energy in Wales, not hang about on the sidelines and abstain.
“If only two weeks after the election, Labour fail to support this motion to give Wales the power to make a real difference to our energy policy, then we can only wonder where else they will fail to stand up against the coalition.
“After all, if their MPs don’t trust their own First Minister with these powers, what does that say for him and his government in Wales?
“Energy decisions being made in Wales is a matter of common sense and consistency.
“Our amendment would mean that instead of two agendas being in place, one in London and one in Wales, there would be just a Welsh agenda to develop and diversify our energy portfolio.”
Amendment to the Localism Bill – to be discussed on 17th May, 2011 (after 7:30pm)
Transfer of generating station consent powers to Welsh Ministers
To move the following Clause:—
‘(1) The Secretary of State must make regulations to transfer to the Welsh Ministers those functions of the Infrastructure Planning Commission and the Marine Management Organisation which relate to applications for an order granting development consent for the construction or extension of generating stations in Wales or in waters in or adjacent to Wales up to the seaward limits of the territorial sea.
(2) Regulations made under subsection (1) must be laid within 12 months of the passing of this Act and are subject to the negative resolution procedure.’.