A decision by the Welsh Assembly Government to confine large wind farms to seven strategic search areas (SSAs) is set to stop several large projects in their tracks, says the British Wind Energy Association. The decision is part of the assembly's new planning policy guidance for renewables, which sets out a planning framework to deliver Wales' target of 4 TWh of electricity from renewables per year by 2010. This will require 800 MW of new onshore wind capacity and 200 MW from offshore wind and other renewables. But only smaller community-based wind projects of less than 5 MW should be encouraged outside the SSAs, says the guidance note. It adds: "The Assembly Government would support local planning authorities in introducing local policies in the development plans that restrict almost all wind energy developments larger than 5 MW to within SSAs and urban/industrial brownfield sites. It is acceptable in such circumstances that planning permission for developments over 5 MW outside SSAs may be refused." The BWEA, while welcoming the principle of siting guidance, questions whether the Welsh target can be delivered under the new policy.
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