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Addresses how we propose to deliver our objective to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects on the Welsh public estate.


Purpose of the Business Case

This business case addresses how the Welsh Government proposes to deliver its objective to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects on the Welsh public estate.

Following an appraisal of a range of organisational options for RED Ltd, it was recommended and agreed in March 2022 to establish RED Ltd as a standalone company. 

Opportunities on the Public Estate

Welsh Government owns and manages large areas of land which includes its Woodland Estate, managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and which covers more than 126,000 hectares, representing nearly 6% of the country’s total land area. 

Large areas of land within the Woodland Estate have been identified as suitable for renewable energy development, particularly for wind energy. NRW has been successfully encouraging large scale renewable energy projects on the Woodland Estate for the last decade and this has resulted in 441MW of installed wind energy capacity, comprising 170 turbines across four projects, all via long-term leases to the commercial sector, with a further 134MW in development. 

In 2020 Welsh Government decided to consider alternative delivery models with the objective of increasing the value to Wales from renewable energy project development on the public estate and ensuring alignment with its policy objectives.

Outline assessments were developed in 2021, based on an example pilot project in Carmarthenshire, to understand the implications of a publicly owned development programme. The work concluded that there was a case to retain public sector control of project development, at least through to the post-planning phase, provided the development team is appropriately skilled and the projects are of medium risk. Consequently, Welsh Government established a programme team in November 2021 with an initial focus on defining development processes and procedures and carrying out site feasibility across the Woodland Estate to define a prioritised portfolio of projects.

Strategic case


The policy context for large scale wind energy generation and ground mounted solar PV energy generation in Wales is set out in a number of national and local planning policy and guidance documents. Allied to these are Welsh Government targets for delivering more renewable energy generation capacity and local ownership of this.

Welsh Government Policies and Targets

In 2019 the Senedd declared a climate emergency. It was the first national Parliament in the world to do so.

Welsh Government published Net Zero Wales, in October 2021, setting out the scale of change required to meet the statutory emission reduction targets, which will require electrification of industry, transport and domestic heat. Net Zero Wales sets out a range of plans and policies to deliver this transition in a way that delivers net benefit to Wales. This includes the commitment to:

  • build on the existing pipeline of public and community renewable projects, evaluating the potential for renewables on public land
  • identify opportunities on the Woodland Estate, balancing the potential to generate energy with the need to preserve biodiversity and increase tree planting in Wales 
  • establish a Welsh Government or public energy developer to accelerate the delivery of renewables. 

Having undertaken an exercise in 2021 to identify opportunities and a list of recommendations to significantly scale up renewable energy in Wales, Welsh Government set the following vision: 

Our Vision is for Wales to generate renewable energy to at least fully meet our energy needs and use surplus generation to tackle the nature and climate emergencies. We will accelerate actions to reduce energy demand and maximise local ownership retaining economic and social benefits in Wales.

Public sector led renewable energy developments on the Welsh public estate would make an important contribution to Wales’s existing renewable energy generation and local ownership targets:

Augmenting this, the 2021 Programme for Government included the commitment to:

expand renewable energy generation by public bodies and community groups in Wales by over 100MW by 2026.

The National Plan and National Planning Policy

Planning Policy Wales (PPW) sets out the land use planning policies for Welsh Government, provides advice on a wide range of issues and is supported by a number of Technical Advice Notes. PPW explicitly expresses Welsh Government’s support for wind energy playing a key part in meeting its vision for future renewable energy production.

Future Wales, the national development framework setting the direction for development in Wales to 2040 sets out the Welsh Government’s future aspirations for large scale energy development. It identifies Pre-Assessed Areas for Wind Energy where Welsh Government has already modelled the likely impact on the landscape and has found them to be capable of accommodating development in an acceptable way. There is to be a presumption in favour of large-scale wind energy development in these areas. 

For other large-scale onshore renewable energy developments, including ground mounted solar PV, a positive policy framework exists subject to proposals not having an unacceptable environmental impact, including landscape and visual impacts.

Supporting Acts and Guidance

Environment (Wales) Act (2016)

The Environment Act commits Wales to a long-term target of reducing emissions by at least 80% by 2050 as well as interim targets and 5-yearly carbon budgets. The Act sets a long-term framework for decarbonisation, creating clarity and certainty to enable low carbon action and investment. Renewable energy generation, including onshore wind farms, will play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2019, the UK Committee on Climate Change recommended that Wales increase their carbon reduction target to 95% by 2050. Welsh Government accepted this recommendation but having considered new evidence, declared an ambition to increase the target to net zero by 2050. In February 2021, Welsh Government set out its legal commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 but with an ambition to “get there sooner”. 

Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act (2015)

The Well-being of Future Generations Act gives the ambition, permission and legal obligation to improve Wales’s social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being. It requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. It puts in place seven well-being goals and makes it clear that public bodies must work to achieve all of the goals.

Decarbonisation of the Public Sector (2017)

Welsh Government’s ambition for the public sector to be carbon neutral by 2030 is set out in a policy statement. This can only be achieved via an ambitious programme of energy efficiency and renewable energy generation projects across the Welsh public estate.

Local Ownership Policy and Guidance

In February 2020 Welsh Government set out its expectation for all new renewable energy projects in Wales to include at least an element of local ownership, to retain wealth and provide real benefit to communities. Locally owned generation provides a strong opportunity to retain economic value, contributing to prosperity. Developing a public sector led portfolio of renewable energy projects on the Welsh public estate would clearly demonstrate Welsh Government’s commitment to the local ownership policy.

Local and Shared Ownership of Energy Projects provides guidance on the options available for meeting the local ownership policy objective and the core benefits associated with an element of local ownership. ‘Locally owned’ projects are defined as energy installations, located in Wales, which are owned by one or more individuals or organisations wholly owned and based in Wales, or organisations whose principal headquarters are in Wales.


Large-scale onshore renewable energy developments, in the right location, have strong policy support and can make an important contribution to the low carbon energy transition with an emphasis on retaining local ownership and value in Wales.

It is also clear that there is a strong policy ambition for more of the value from projects in Wales to be retained to deliver a prosperous low carbon Wales and by demonstrating the benefits to Wales, retain public support for the energy transition.