Sunday, 6 December 2009

Devolution? What devolution?

It seems devolution is something that happens to other countries. This critical report provides another disturbing example of how Wales, unlike Scotland or the North of Ireland, is unable to make decisions on key issues such as energy and other major planning issues. Instead a body of unelected "great and good" called the INFRASTRUCTURE PLANNING COMMISSION will decide on our behalf.

Yet, despite four of its first nine planning applications dealing directly with Wales, it appears that there are no members of this commission from Wales.

Here is the Wales Times take on things:

Few of you will have heard of this new organisation so I strongly suggest you read on, not least because you’ll be hearing a lot more of this outfit in future, and it doesn’t look good for Wales.

The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) has been set up by the London Government to ease through “nationally significant infrastructure projects”; in other words, projects deemed so important that opposition can not be tolerated. For once approved by the IPC it's done and dusted. The new body serves two masters. On the one hand, politicians are relieved of any responsibilities for unpopular projects, while private companies and other developers can – with IPC approval – push those projects through without having to worry about planning applications, public enquiries and all the rest of that democratic nonsense.

The IPC has just published a list of the first nine projects seeking approval in Wales and England. (The IPC has no powers in Scotland or Northern Ireland.) Four of them are in Wales. All are wind farms in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. Now you may be ambivalent about wind turbines, even supportive, but think on . . . Among the projects covered by the IPC’s remit is reservoirs. So in a few years time we could be facing another Tryweryn because the IPC decides that a new reservoir in Wales to serve an English conurbation is a “nationally significant infrastructure” project.

If almost half of its projects are to be in Wales then you might assume that there will be a strong Welsh presence on the IPC. Well, you’d be wrong. There will be 20 – 30 Commissioners but at the time of writing none will be Welsh. Yet in December 2007 the London government promised that 2 – 3 of the Commissioners would be appointed by the Welsh Assembly. Now the London government has admitted that all the Commissioners will be appointed before the Assembly is even consulted! Worse, it appears that the Welsh Assembly Government has agreed to this!

The ‘consolation prize’ according to Ceredigion Liberal MP, Mark Williams – after meeting with IPC chair, Sir Michael Pitt – is that WAG will get to pick the ‘most Welsh’ from those appointed. (Whatever the hell that means.) Given past experiences we can expect to be ‘represented’ by someone whose granny once spent a weekend in Aberystwyth; another who was taught in school by Mr. Evans; and a third who owns a corgi. This is 21st century colonialism. And those useless bastards down in our Notional Assembly have agreed to it!

But look on the bright side. The IPC website offers a Welsh language service. England may still be riding roughshod over us, still treating our homeland as a colony, but at least you can read about it in Welsh! Hurrah! another victory for devolution! Yet more ‘respect’ for the language and those who speak it!

Come back Franz Kafka, for only you could do justice to the asylum that is Wales and the cowards and lunatics that claim to be running it.

The Government of Wales Act 2006 also made clear that water was an issue that would not be devolved to the Assembly. So direct rule applies for sensitive issues such as energy and water, despite their obvious importance for us in Wales. Does anyone else see a pattern emerging here?


Plaid Gwersyllt said...

I thought Rhodri had done away with quango's in Wales? But this is just another expensive Quango to prevent Ministers having to make difficult decisions. Anyway Planning is supposedly devolved to Wales so why isn't this. I wonder who agreed to this...probably the dozy doc Brian Gibbons...I wonder if Jane Davidson knows about it? Can feel a letter to the dozy doc coming on!

Pelagius said...

This is a great post and you are totally correct. It is classic imperialism in action. England is deciding about Wales' natural resources. Another word is theft. The same with proposed changes to laws about our water resources: another "England & Wales" regime imminent to our detriment.

But it's no use only blaming St Rhodri. Where have the Plaid AMs been? The MPs come to that. What have they done to oppose this?

This is a national scandal and opposition to it is weakened by Plaid's cosying up to Labour. Wake up Plaid!

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

I'm sure we'll be getting Janet onto this in the morning!

Dave Vandweller said...

we should take the matter of unfair water rates to the E/U we could win,

Jim Dunckley said...

Resource nationalism is going to come wales, one way or another in the next ten years. We export water, and we also export electricity. We produce more than we need and the surplus goes to England, yet the Assembly and London are supporting even more energy developments over the next few years. We're being screwed, big time - why is the Assembly not standing up for us?

Jim Dunckley said...

And in any case the author didn't look very hard at the list - 3 of the developments are wind farms, the other one is Wylfa C - a nuke station. The guy who wrote welsh times isn't pro-nuke is he by any chance?

Plaid Whitegate said...

Not sure I like the term "resource nationalism" - sounds a bit too much of 'I'm alright Jack' in the wrong hands!
Truth is that Wales needs to change the way it produces energy and has the capacity to have a green energy economy - if it's allowed to. The IPC won't do that.

Anonymous said...

Very relevant post. You are dead right of course. The problem is Plaid at the top seems not to be much interested in stressing Wales' resource strengths and making the economic case for independence within an anti-colonial framework (as the Basque left does). Plaid nationally seems more interested in non-conformist pacifism, schoolsnhospitals welfarism (defending the NHS and not keeping the pressure on the BBC - both British institutions), combined with a Guardinaists Brit-Left leftism. Of course we should make our case relevant to daily life but we have to make our case, we have to capture the agenda. Adam Price's recent anti-coloniasim lecture in Aber was welcome, but it would have been more so if it had come when Simon Glyn and Cymuned were taking the heat in Llyn (where have you been, Adam?) and if he hadn't spent most of his parliamentary career fighting on a British-wide issue (Iraq) which is hardly a first order issue on the road to independence.


Pelagius said...

Plaid Whitegate. The only problem with being sensitive about "resource nationalism" is that, if we do not practice it., we will be faced with "resource imperialism" - our current status. And we have the resources not only to supply England. Many of them are portable to Ireland and the mainland.

One further example to add the Jim Dunckley's list. The Crown Estate owns our undersea land, including Afon Menai, Bae Ceredigion and Mor Hafren. It collects fees for their use. If we want more off-shore wind farms (I hate most on-shore ones) and tidal power, our nation gains nothing. Unlike Norway. We should nationalise this. Why hasn't a Plaid AM proposed an LCO? Popular even if defeated.

Plaid Whitegate said...

@ Efrogwr: Defending the NHS and opposing the war in Iraq are both issues of huge significance in Wales. Plaid will get condemned for being over-idealistic and not idealistic enough, for being too moderate and too extreme - but it's the only credible voice advancing the needs of Welsh people against the greed of bankers and bosses.
@ Pelagius: Perhaps I was over-harsh in responding to Jim, who I know well. Your point about resource imperialism is well made as the Crown Estate is yet another area of governance over which we have no control. Not sure about the LCO though - which devolved area covers the Crown Estate?

Anonymous said...

In answer to Jim Dunkley, the list of IPC projects seems curiously 'flexible'.

For example, I quote here from the Planning Resource website (Oct 22): "Five major wind farms and two new nuclear power stations are included on the list, as well as a biomass power plant, and two national grid connection projects.

The initial named projects include nuclear power plants at Sizewell and Hinkley Point, and a biomass power plant at Blyth, Northumberland."

No mention of Wylfa. This was the case when I wrote the Welsh Times piece at the beginning of November. Since then Wylfa has been 'slipped in' and others dropped.

Whatever's going on here, according to the IPC's latest list, HALF of the projects are in Wales. Which is why our politicos had better wake up.

All Quiet said...

I hear a key figure in Plaid from North Wales may be jumping ship with Ashgar to the tories.. is that why Plaid are so quiet on here today?

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Nobody's hiding anything Guerilla Welsh Fare and Adam Hignett have been blogging about this already.