RTPI welcomes updated renewable energy policy

Welsh planning policy officer Rebecca Phillips says that the RTPI welcomes the updated policy on renewable energy, recognising that this is a technically complex subject and raises sensitive issues relating to land-use and environmental considerations. Phillips was responding to the consultation Draft Ministerial Interim Planning Policy Statement (MIPPS) on Renewable Energy and Draft TAN8: Renewable Energy. "Both these documents include guidance that is helpful in tackling these composite and varied considerations in a clear and comprehensive way," she says. Emphasising that the RTPI is committed to securing a sustainable mix of energy provision while minimising the impact on the environment and local communities, Phillips points out that although the guidance deals briefly with other renewable energy technologies, TAN8 does not attempt to make the important link with regional waste plans. She therefore suggests that TAN8 could be modified to make a stronger link between meeting the requirements on waste management and renewable energy, thus providing a more comprehensive national framework for renewable energy. In her view, the policy "should include an estimation of the contribution that could be made by energy conservation measures, non-electricity sources and small-scale energy sources. Beyond 2010, if electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles are to supersede petrol-driven ones the overall need for energy produced by power stations will significantly increase." Phillips feels that draft TAN8 focuses predominantly on wind power and underestimates the extent to which other forms of alternative energy could contribute to meeting Welsh Assembly Government targets. But she supports the assembly's proposal to review the policy in 2010, when the viability of other energy sources has been proven. "The RTPI fully endorses the assembly's intention to ensure a consistent approach to identifying suitable locations for wind energy development and the evaluation and determination of planning applications for wind farm developments. TAN8 is based on detailed research and contains a clear planning strategy at an all-Wales level while identifying the local implications of that strategy through the proposed strategic areas identified for wind turbines," says Phillips. She welcomes the requirement that planning authorities should consult appropriate bodies to ensure the drafting of informed development plan policies. "The RTPI encourages carrying out assessment outside the identified strategic areas to develop development plan policies to encourage small, possibly community-based proposals, for wind turbines where appropriate." Similarly, she adds, small-scale rural community-led projects should be encouraged.

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