Tuesday, 8 December 2009

'Outrage' as new quango takes control over Welsh energy and water schemes

A new unelected public body has been slammed for the undemocratic way it dictates key areas of Welsh life such as new nuclear power stations, windfarms and reservoirs. The new Infrastructure Planning Commission set up by the UK Government is "a body blow for democracy in Wales" according to Plaid Cymru councillors. From 2010 the IPC will dictate “nationally significant infrastructure projects” across Wales and England. The commission has no jurisdiction in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The new commission will be able to completely bypass the local planning process and locate developments where it sees fit. Despite the fact that half the projects currently under consideration are located in Wales, there is no Welsh representation on the commission and the Assembly has no say in its decisions.

Plaid Cymru Councillor Carrie Harper said: "Wales already suffers from a democratic deficit. Our Assembly has far weaker powers than Scotland, Northern Ireland and even the Isle of Man. The Infrastructure Planning Commission is yet another example of how to stamp all over the democratic process and exclude local input, it's an outrage. I wonder how many local people in North Wales have heard about this new outfit and been told about the implications it will have for the local area?

"Yet again we're kept out of the loop but will no doubt be expected to put up with the consequences of these developments. Given previous experiences of forced resource grabs, I think this is something we should all be seriously concerned about. I'm disgusted at the way in which our communities are excluded from various decision-making processes at all levels."

Councillor Arfon Jones, Plaid's candidate for Wrexham in the coming General Election, added:
"It seems devolution is something that happens to other countries. This is another disturbing example of how Wales, unlike Scotland or Northern Ireland, is unable to make decisions on key issues such as energy and other major planning issues. Clearly we in Wales cannot be trusted to make decisions around our own natural resources. This is just another expensive Quango which excuses ministers from making difficult and unpopular decisions.”

Five of the first 10 projects that the IPC is considering are in Wales - four windfarms and the proposal to build a new nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey.

Cllr Jones added:
“This unelected quango could also be the body that will make the decisions whether a 1500-capacity prison comes to Wrexham and they will make their decision irrespective of the views of councillors or members of the public.”


Draig said...

They'll also be approving a giant new powerline to export all our wind energy to england. This powerline will run to the Legacy substation in Wrexham and from there export the electricity over the border.

But hey, it's all about the Assembly meeting it's spurious renewables targets, so as long as the Assembly looks good, who cares about communities or real democracy?

cynicalHighlander said...

Its called the Union dividend "You give we take".

As London (centre of the universe) is extremly short of drinking water a new resevior or two will also be on the cards if the can print enough money to finance them.

Pelagius said...

Good on you for developing this. The facts get worse if Draig and you are right. This is really frightening and must be stopped. Do you know when and where this England & Wales quango will decide? Where are the Plaid AMs in letting this slip past? Who is the party's planning spokesperson in the Assembly? Not a minister, obviously. That's St Jane of Copenhagen.

Please, please develop this campaign!

Jo Houghton said...

Remember Wales only makes up a small percentage of the UK population and therefore it is only natural the resources and decisions are shared by the union a time when we are in a recession.

Plaid Whitegate said...

@Jo: I see no sharing here. Wales has no input into the IPC and therefore Welsh communities have no say in future large windfarms, reservoirs or nuclear power stations.
As for sharing wealth, I don't remember City bankers sharing their obscene wealth in the good old days. But they expected a payout when times got tough and public services will bear the brunt of the cost.
The people of Wales are losing out under this present set-up.

Draig said...

Jo Houghton:

Yes we are only a small proportion of the United Kingdom. So why do we get a disproportionate amount of the big energy projects? How is that sharing?