Powys LDP Examination: Renewable Energy
New information on Renewable Energy: new evidence and new LDP policy suggestions published by Powys County Council on 12th May 2017.
The new documents are:
1. AECOM Revised Renewable Energy Assessment for Powys (ED059)
2. AECOM MAPS p 1 to 44 (wind and solar) (ED059)
3. AECOM MAPS p 44 to 56 (biomass) (ED059)
4. ENPLAN assessment of impact on proposed Local Search Areas on Landscape using reduced version of LANDMAP methodology (ED060)
5. Powys PCC Position Statement including suggestion for new Renewable Energy Policy (ED061)
What the documents say:
The AECOM Report providing the evidence for the Further Focussed Changes (October 2016) derived extensive Local Search Areas for projects between 5 and 25 MW (up to 12 turbines 120M tip height) by looking for locations with wind speeds over 6.0m/sec and then ruling out those which were too close to designated protected nature and historic sites, residential buildings, roads and railways and protected aircraft and defence zones. Huge envelopes were then drawn around this identified ‘resource’.
The Revised Report rules out additional areas which are not: within 10km of a grid connection, have thick peat cover or are too small for a 5MW wind farm. The revised report comes to the conclusion that outside existing Strategic Search Areas for wind farms over 25MW: “There are no remaining least constrained land parcels of sufficient area to identify wind LSAs for local authority schemes of installed capacity range 5MW to 25MW”.
THANKS TO THE PUBLIC RESPONSE, THERE ARE NO LSAs FOR WIND ENERGY
SOLAR PV ENERGY
The AECOM Report providing the evidence for the Further Focussed Changes, derived extensive Local Search Areas for projects from 5 to 50 MW by looking at areas with suitable slope and orientation for enough sunlight exposure and then ruling out locations coinciding with, or too close to, designated protected nature and historic sites, residential buildings, roads and railways and protected aircraft and defence zones. Again, huge envelopes were then drawn around identified ‘resource’.
The Revised Report rules out additional areas which are not: within 10km of a grid connection, have thick peat cover, are too small for a 5MW solar farm or are on grade 1-4 farm land (to protect better-grade land for agriculture).
Resulting ‘resource’ areas were clustered into 33 ‘candidate’ LSAs. These were assessed by EnPlan for the impact of solar development on landscape according to 6 categories from low to very high. Landscape impact was judged too high for 11 out of 33 potential areas. The remaining 22 areas are intended to be incorporated in to the Council’s Renewable Energy Policy and the potential solar energy resource is calculated from a model of how they might be built out in practice. A summary of EnPlan’s findings is set out in this spreadsheet. Maps showing remaining Local Search Areas after landscape assessment are shown on ED059 Maps S7.
RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGETS
Proposed targets for renewable energy generation in Powys over the life of the LDP have been reduced from 600MW (October 2016) to 61.7MW.
SITING OF DEVELOPMENTS
It is important to recognise that Powys are suggesting both wind and solar development may also be permitted outside Strategic Search Areas for Wind Farms and Local Search Areas for Solar arrays. The distribution of each type and size of project would depend on how planning decisions were made on particular applications according to the adopted policy. In the position statement Powys is suggesting the following policy:
POLICY RE1 – Renewable Energy
Proposals for renewable and low carbon energy development will be permitted subject to the following criteria. Appropriate locations will be defined by demonstrating compliance with Criterion 3.
1. Proposals for wind energy development greater than 5 MW:
i. Wind energy proposals (greater than 25MW) will be directed to appropriate locations within the boundaries of the Strategic Search Areas (SSAs).
ii. Wind energy proposals (10 – 25 MW) will only be permitted in appropriate locations and where they are in the national interest for meeting energy contributions.
iii. Wind energy proposals (5 – 10 MW) will only be permitted in appropriate locations.
2. Proposals for Solar PV energy development greater than 5 MW:
i. Solar PV proposals (5 – 50MW) will be directed to appropriate locations within the boundaries of Local Search Areas (Solar LSAs).
ii. Outside Solar LSAs, solar PV proposals will only be permitted for:
a) 10 – 50MW in appropriate locations and where they are in the national interest for meeting energy contributions.
b) 5 – 10 MW in appropriate locations.
3. Proposals for all types of renewable and low carbon energy development and associated infrastructure either on their own, cumulatively or in combination with existing and or approved development, must comply with all other relevant policies in the LDP but in particular shall not have an unacceptable impact on:
i. The landscape including visual amenity in accordance with Policy DM3 – Landscape;
ii. The natural and historic environment in accordance with Policy DM2 – The Natural Environment and Strategic Policy SP7 – Safeguarding Strategic Resources and Assets;
iii. Residential amenity, groundwater quality, and highway safety, including during construction, in accordance with Policy DM15 – Design and Resources; and
iv. Radar, air traffic control systems, telecommunications links, television reception, radio communication and emergency services communications.
4. There are satisfactory proposals in place for site restoration and aftercare.
YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE COMMENTS:
As we have been unable to find any Welsh guidance on the environmental impacts and siting of solar developments we have provided a link to the guidance produced by Natural England (TIN 101). Table 1 sets out factors which are considered likely to make solar development more easily accommodated in the landscape.
A 5MW solar array needs approximately 25-30 acres of land (10-12 Hectares) so that a 50MW array needs 250-300 acres (100-120 Hectares, or 1.0-1.2 square kilometres of land).
People may wish to comment and put their views and evidence to the Inspector about:
· Impacts on places they know
· The methodology Powys, AECOMand EnPlan have used
· The policy to allow large developments outside identified search areas,
· The soundness of this chosen strategy for renewable electricity generation
· The suitability of the search areas
· Evidence/policy about other renewable technologies such as biodigesters
25th May 2017: From the Powys LDP website: “PLEASE NOTE – The following Renewable Energy material will be discussed at the forthcoming Renewable Energy Hearing Sessions. Any proposed changes to the LDP which arise from these discussions, or discussions at earlier Hearing Sessions, will form part of the Proposed Matters Arising Changes which will be subject to a formal 6 week public consultation during late summer/early autumn 2017. Representations in relation to the Proposed Matters Arising Changes matters should be made during the consultation period. Any unsolicited correspondence received outside the consultation period will be returned.” See link. While we are currently seeking clarification from the Inspector, we think it likely that Hearing Statements in relation to the new evidence and policy which was published on 12th May will only be accepted from those who have requested to participate in the Hearing Sessions at the end of June.
Hearing Statements must be submitted by the 5th June to the Programme Officer, Tracey Smith tracey.smith@Powys.gov.uk. One electronic copy and three paper copies should be submitted, paper copies should be A4, punched with two holes, sent or delivered to LDP Programme Office, Room 12, The Gwalia, Ithon Road, Llandrindod Wells, Powys LD1 6AA. Copies may be sent to County Councillors (see http://www.powys.gov.uk/en/elections/find-out-who-my-councillor-is/ for contact details), and to Welsh Assembly Members Kirsty.Williams@assembly.wales or Russell.George@assembly.wales
We are very sorry about any confusion and apologise to all our website followers but we at CPRW Brecon and Radnor Branch are learning about the Examination protocol as we go along! We currently understand that anyone who is not attending Hearing Session 15 as a participant will have to reserve any comments until the public consultation on the Matters Arising Changes which will be published some time after the Hearings are completed.