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Friday, March 18, 2005

Devolution for beginners

Reports in tonights South Wales Evening Post indicate that the Prime Minister does not understand the devolution settlement he imposed on Wales. Could it be too complex for him?

Mr. Blair agreed to go head to head with a selected panel of Evening Post readers, however it was not the comfortable experience that he expected. The paper reports that 'Tony Blair lost his assertiveness and appeared rather uncomfortable last night when he was quizzed over wind farms. On several occasions during the Evening Post Question Time session at a Swansea hotel he sought to wash his hands of responsibility, insisting that the issue of wind farms was a matter for "local decision-makers.""These decisions are being taken by the Assembly now," he said.'

Well, actually, that is not strictly true. If a wind farm generates electricity in excess of 50mw (i.e. most of them) then the planning decision will be taken by the dti. Only if the wind farm is off-shore can the Assembly determine it, and only then if the developer opts for that particular route. The default position is that off-shore wind farms are determined by the dti, as was the one off Rhyl in North Wales. Oh, and yes the Assembly Government is in the process of setting its own renewable energy targets but the responsibility rests with the UK Government and it is they who are dictating the agenda.

Honestly, the things politicians will say to get out of a sticky situation! :-))
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