Over 54% of British electricity between July and September was from renewables or nuclear, the former providing 30% (compared with 25% in the same period of 2016). Coal accounted for only 3% of generation. Other records broken during 2017 include the first 24 hours without coal generation, the most wind power produced in a day, and the highest percentage (26.8%) of national demand in one day met by solar power.
For four years from April 2018 the WCVA, in partnership with local CVCs like GAVO, will be distributing £1.5m p.a. from the Welsh Government’s Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. It will fund biodiversity, waste minimisation and environmental enhancement projects within 5 miles of a landfill site or waste transfer station.
The new Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) – https://beta.gov.wales/welsh-transport-appraisal-guidance-weltag – enables transport solutions which are low-or zero-carbon, mitigate air pollution, accelerate the green economy and otherwise meet the sustainable development principle of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner, has welcomed the revised guidance.
Welsh Government has published the first marine plan for Welsh seas. The draft plan (https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/draft-welsh-national-marine-plan) sets out strategic objectives and policies for matters such as aquaculture, aggregates, defence, and renewable energy, including the identification of Resource Areas (RAs). Responses are required by 29 March.
The Western Mail recently carried a feature about the rare whitebeam trees of the Wye Valley, being protected by a partnership of the Forestry Commission, the Tree Council and Dean Green Team. Trees high up on the valley cliffs have been surveyed and more light has been let in to help their survival. There are more than twenty varieties of whitebeam in the valley, six of which in the Symond’s Yat or Doward areas occur nowhere else in the world. One is named after Monmouthshire botanist Trevor Evans.
Monmouthshire CC’s Cabinet is expected this week to endorse a consultation report on the review of the Local Development Plan 2011-2021 – https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/documents/s12389/1.%20Cabinet%206%20December%202017.pdf. A review of the plan adopted in February 2014 must begin within four years of that adoption and the aim must be to adopt a revised plan before the end of 2021 in order to avoid a policy vacuum. The consultation report provides an overview of changes likely to be needed to the LDP, and stakeholders are invited to comment on these and to suggest additional issues or changes. With a shortfall already in a five-year supply of housing land, housing land allocations are likely to be an inevitable concern. Responses to the consultation will be needed before early February.
The National Park’s ‘Shape My Brecon Beacons’ project, which helps communities to write their own Place Plans, has been selected as a finalist in the Royal Town Planning Institute Cymru National Awards. Community leaders are supported to involve residents and other stakeholders in shaping the future well-being of their town or village, within the context of the Local Development Plan.
The Welsh Government has called on Whitehall to do more to support onshore wind and solar energy. It is one of a number of signatories to a public statement issued today, which urges the UK government to enable onshore wind and solar technologies to compete in Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction rounds. Both onshore wind and solar are currently excluded from bidding in CfD auctions. Other signatories include the Welsh Local Government Association and Community Energy Wales.
The Welsh cabinet secretary for energy, Lesley Griffiths, said ‘onshore wind and solar present the best opportunities to manage the costs of generation to energy bills.
The UK has invested over £9bn in developing the renewables sector and costs have successfully been driven down. However, the rapid changes in UK government policy have decimated large parts of the renewable sector, with potentially valuable developments to Wales stopped in their tracks by UK ministers.’ In 2015 alone, four new wind developments in mid-Wales with an installed capacity of over 300MW were refused by UK government. ‘The bulk of UK government renewables investment is now going to offshore projects outside of Wales,’ said Ms Griffiths. ‘This investment is paid for by Welsh bill payers, amongst others. A policy framework which enables the most affordable projects to continue to form the bulk of energy supply is fundamentally important to delivering our decarbonisation and prosperity goals.’