According to a report commissioned by the wind energy industry in Wales, RenewableUK Cymru and the Welsh Government, Wales could receive a steady stream of economic benefits if it capitalises on wind power.

Minister for Environment & Sustainable Development John Griffiths welcomed the report claiming it demonstrated that a low carbon transition would be economically beneficial and he called on the UK Government to allow Wales’s autonomy in dealing with large-scale energy projects.

He said: “We continue to believe the Welsh Government is best placed to align Wales’ energy aspirations with the needs of our communities. That is why we have repeatedly called upon the UK Government to transfer the power over the consenting of large-scale energy projects to the Welsh Government, in line with the powers already devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

The report finds that that £2.3bn GVA could be added to the Welsh economy between 2012 and 2050, as long as the expected share of investment from the Welsh Government’s 2025 ambition of 2,000MW of onshore wind is captured.

The investment could support around 2,000 jobs annually over the same period of time, through construction, operation and management, decommissioning and repowering of the turbines.

However, the report also reveals that if consenting rates for onshore wind projects continue at the same rate as they did between 2001 and 2011, the contribution to the Welsh economy could drop to a total of £900m with less than 1,000 jobs per year being supported by the industry.

RenewableUK Cymru director Dr David Clubb said: “Without a significant shift in the consenting rate, and in the overall approach of planning policy in Wales to this sector, we will continue to be held hostage by rising fossil fuel prices and we will fail to meet our renewable energy ambitions with a corresponding missed opportunity to generate livelihoods for more than 2,000 people in Wales.”

Based on developer forecasts, just over a third (35%) of all expenditure in the construction phase is on average expected to be retained within Wales, along with 71% of planning and development.

The report estimates that in 2005-11 the planning and construction of onshore wind projects in Wales contributed an annual average of £7.8m to the Welsh economy and 335 jobs.

Conor McGlone

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