Wales will only meet its new renewable goals if its government takes action to increase the rate of planning approvals for wind projects and to cut waiting times, says the Cymru branch of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). The Welsh Assembly government, in its Renewable Energy Routemap, claims the country could be a net exporter of power from renewables by 2028, generating 33 TWh a year, well in excess of its annual consumption of 24 TWh. It believes that half of this could come from marine technologies, provided controversial plans for a tidal barrage across the River Severn proceed. A third would come from wind, it says, with the rest mostly from biomass. For wind, it envisages up to 3.5 GW. It pledges to review its current zones for where large projects are allowed, but also sees scope for community scale projects in other areas too. Wind projects in urban or brownfield sites will be encouraged -- and energy regulator Ofgem should give precedence to wind over fossil fuelled projects. But BWEA Cymru points out that of decisions on site applications for 249 MW of wind projects since October, all have been refused, withdrawn, appealed, or "called-in" for determination by the Welsh Assembly. None were approved. BWEA Cymru is calling for a new series of interim targets for renewables in Wales, stronger planning guidance to local authorities and a commitment to call in applications which go significantly beyond the 16 week deadline for decisions, and strategic investment by National Grid to upgrade grid connections -- particularly in mid Wales and offshore.
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