The Welsh Labour Government is failing to support small scale community energy projects, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are arguing in their debate this week.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats recognise the potential for microgeneration to deliver for Wales's communities in strengthening local economies, increasing energy efficiency and decreasing fuel poverty.
The Welsh Labour Government's own Ynni'r Fro project, which was set up to use European Structural Funds to support small scale generation projects, has been found to have had "minimal" achievement in a government review.
Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
"Small-scale energy projects are a great opportunity to create local jobs and strengthen local communities. As the need to deal with the threat of climate change becomes ever more urgent, they're also a vital source of diversity and renewables in our energy mix.
"The Welsh Labour Government's own attempts to support community energy have failed, even by their own admission. There's a clear need to reform and renew Ynni'r Fro and Welsh Labour Ministers must seize the opportunity to improve the scheme.
"We need to make it as easy as possible for communities to take advantage of small-scale energy generation. Resources to support local applications should be more readily available, and planning laws should be reformed to ease the process for these small-scale projects.
"We shouldn't be turning down any opportunity to build a stronger, greener economy for Wales. The Welsh Liberal Democrats strongly support community energy projects, and anyone else serious about powering Wales's future would do the same."
We're calling on the Welsh Government to:
- ensure that microgeneration projects are considered with a presumption in favour of development;
- provide a model legal and business framework for Community-Owned Renewable Energy Co-Operatives to reduce the legal costs and complexity for communities wishing to establish their own;
- ensure that the advice and support offered by Ynni'r Fro Technical Development Officers continues beyond the existing programme;
- create a library of resources to support community groups apply for support for community generation projects; and
- work with education providers to ensure climate change policies fully recognise the role of education and schools in delivering behaviour change, and bring more understanding of ecological issues into our schools.