Until now, proposals for energy projects over 50MW in Wales have been submitted to UK Government for consideration as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, with any associated development determined by local authorities under the Town and Country Planning Act. That is due to change next year and, in readiness, the Welsh Government is consulting on proposed changes to the consenting process.
A new process for large infrastructure projects was introduced by the Planning (Wales) Act 2015. Under the Act, proposals for Developments of National Significance (DNS) are submitted to Welsh Government, rather than local authorities or UK Government, but this excluded energy projects over 50MW.
The Wales Act (2017) builds on the DNS process and from 2019 Welsh Government will have more control over the consenting of on and offshore electricity generating stations up to 350MW, as well as ports and harbours and marine licences.
As such, the Welsh Government is proposing some changes to streamline the consenting process and is considering a transitional stage when the new powers come into play in April 2019 and the longer-term solution.
Full details of the consultation: Changes to the consenting of infrastructure: Towards establishing a bespoke infrastructure consenting process in Wales can be found on the Welsh Government’s website: https://beta.gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultations/2018-04/180430-changes-to-the-approval-of-infrastructure-development.pdf.
The deadline for consultation responses is 23 July 2018.