Article by Graham Winter, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
The Welsh Government has introduced secondary legislation that will make a further change to the definition of Developments of National Significance (DNS) in Wales. This will be considered and voted on by the Assembly on 1 March 2016. Our previous blog post on DNS explained the increasingly complex picture that is emerging about who will take decisions on energy generation stations in Wales in future. DNS are a new category of planning application that will be submitted directly to the Welsh Ministers, rather than to a Local Planning Authority. The new DNS category is being introduced as a result of the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 and the Welsh Government intends the new regime to be in place in March 2016. The secondary legislation passed by the Assembly on 26 January 2016 included all onshore energy generating stations of between 10-50 Megawatts in the DNS definition. Generating stations over 50 Megawatts are currently decided by the UK Government. The new legislation will extend the definition of DNS to include onshore windfarms of more than 50 megawatts. This is in response to the UK Government’s decision to remove such windfarms from the definition of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) in both Wales and England. NSIPs are projects that are currently decided by the UK Secretary of State. Without this amendment, onshore windfarms of below 10 Megawatts and also those over 50 Megawatts in Wales would in future be decided by Local Planning Authorities, whilst those between 10 and 50 Megawatts would be decided by the Welsh Ministers. In England, onshore windfarms of all sizes will in future be decided by Local Planning Authorities. If the new legislation is passed on 1 March 2016, the diagrams below show what the new arrangements for consenting onshore windfarms will be, as well as the current and possible future arrangements for other types of energy project in Wales. The ‘other types’ diagram reflects the proposals in the Draft Wales Bill published in October 2015.