Wales’ poor grid capacity will ensure net zero isn’t reached – and rural communities will continue to be left behind

“A better case for levelling-up for under-privileged rural areas could not be made.”
Solar Rhug Mared Williams
Solar panels on a rural estate in North Wales.

CLA Cymru responds to the House of Commons; Welsh Affairs Select Committee Report, Grid Capacity in Wales, 21 October 2022.

“Rural Wales will continue to fall behind if the UK and Welsh Governments and the network operators do not collaborate and face-up to their respective responsibilities, and create a fit-for-purpose future electricity grid,” says CLA Director Nigel Hollett in response to the publication of the Report.

“Wales can take vital steps closer to its net zero target by taking advantage of the rich opportunity in natural sources of sustainable rural energy: hydro, solar, wind. However rural private investors are frustrated by extortionately high grid connection costs and long delays to get planning consent. While some urban areas begin to move forward, development in rural areas is held back.”

“The Report highlights the need for government to understand what we’ve got – and what we need in Wales – and a scheduled plan of action to get there,” Nigel says. “We need to change our negatively biased planning regime, and address disincentives such as crippling Business Rates on some privately funded renewable energy projects like small scale hydro-projects.”

“Above all, the high cost of grid connections and necessary reinforcement in rural areas prevents many sustainable developments going ahead. Government should ensure the burden of additional costs do not forestall rural sustainable development. They need to work with network operators to ensure the right investments in grid infrastructure are made ahead of need, so that rural economic potential and decarbonisation can be realised. A better case for levelling-up for under-privileged rural areas could not be made.”

“The government in Westminster and Wales need to work together to address the issues raised in the Welsh Affairs Select Committee Report.”