- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Assembly Member Joyce Watson has backed the Welsh Government’s decision to improve noise assessments for wind turbine applications.
In response to a petition signed by Carmarthenshire residents calling for greater control of noise from wind turbines, the Welsh Government has accepted that the noise assessment skills of local planners, environmental officers and energy companies need to be improved.
Mrs Watson, AM for Mid and West Wales, is a member of the Assembly’s Petitions committee. In February, the committee visited two windfarm sites in the Gwyddgrug area to investigate wind turbines noise issues. The Committee also held a public meeting in Carmarthen town to talk to people living near wind turbine sites.
In a debate at the National Assembly for Wales on Wednesday (11 July), Mrs Watson said:
“The conversations that we had and the evidence that we took convinced me of the need to listen more carefully to the experience and expertise of those local people.
“I am encouraged that the Minister has accepted the need to scrutinise the skills of those commissioning and considering noise assessments. It needs to be looked at. More importantly, it must also influence the decisions of local planners.
“The planning process can sideline local people and ignore local knowledge too easily and too often.”
However, the Labour backbench AM defended the Welsh Government’s sustainable energy policies:
“I agree that we must always carefully examine the detail and cost-benefit of different technologies, but we must also be honest about what we are arguing for or against. Even putting aside the impact of climate change, surely it makes sense for Wales to invest in sustainable energy.
“We cannot lose sight of the big picture. I fully support the Government’s low-carbon commitment and applaud the resolve that this Government has shown to deliver on its ambitious renewable energy targets.”
In response, the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, John Griffiths, said:
“We accept that there needs to be meaningful consultation on the good practice guide produced by the Institute of Acoustics.
“Research indicates that the skills of those commissioning and considering noise assessments need to be improved. We must ensure that the work will be of benefit to local authority planners, environmental health officers and applicants to produce greater consistency in noise assessments in future.”