More ambitious renewable targets, but where’s the plan of action?

The Welsh Government is consulting on its net-zero targets: it raises many questions about metrics and how rural generating potential can be supported to play its part.
Wales small private rural hydro
More small, rural, private hydro schemes like this should be supported in Welsh Government renewables policy.

The Welsh Government's recent announcement is here.

“We’re generally supportive of the Welsh Government’s net-zero vision,” says Fraser McAuley, Senior Policy Advisor, “But still, there are too many unanswered questions about metrics and how they’re going to meet the objectives – at what cost and impact on rural businesses.”

“On the surface, the Welsh Government’s consultation on its renewable energy targets - which closes for responses this month - leaves little to oppose: a target to meet 100% of energy needs by 2035. It includes at least 1.5 Gigawatt of generation capacity from locally-owned renewables.”

Many members are frustrated: not enough’s been invested in how we reach the goal and in realising the potential in rural renewables.

Fraser McAuley, CLA Cymru Senior Policy Adviser

"The Government removed Business Rates relief from small private hydro-electric schemes making many unviable. Those looking to create renewable capacity face extortionate costs in connecting with the grid, and a planning regime which doesn’t share the Welsh Government’s principles to play its part in meeting the target, or in positive development. At ground-level the issues are cast into sharp focus by the proposed 90-mile Bute Energy power-line. Here land managers are being courted for surveys for this substantial project, but there’s no clarity about how they can benefit from direct connection or be fairly compensated for impact.”

“More questions arose in our February regional branch meetings. The net-zero commitment is driving attention into tree-planting, but the balance of benefit alongside food production isn’t clear. Equally, there are questions to be answered about investment strategy in the grid to achieve decarbonisation, notably in decentralised energy hubs and in storage. And for the end-user, despite a Welsh Government consultation about an electric vehicle infrastructure vision, there’s no discernible strategy for this vital part of the jigsaw – notably in Wales’ extensive rural areas. Arguably here the Westminster Government has a role to play working together with all three devolved administrations. Finally, we’ve been calling for a great deal more to be done to improve energy efficiency in rural homes and businesses. The Westminster government’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) is denuding rural communities of urgently-needed low-cost residential lets.

“We must concede that Wales must start somewhere and the climate change crisis is too critical to be put in the too-difficult-box. The CLA’s next generation of members in particular have everything to gain from a strategy which embraces the huge contribution sustainable land management can make to combating climate change.”