Elin Jones, Minister for Rural Affairs
In plenary on 1st February, I indicated that I had asked the Forestry Commission Wales (FCW) to identify the renewable energy potential within the public forest estate, particularly through small scale hydro-energy schemes. I am pleased to provide an update on this work today. FCW has scoped the broad potential to deliver run-of-river hydro-energy schemes on the estate. This work has confirmed the potential for a number of schemes, focusing on the largest that are most likely to be feasible. Although some schemes would require the involvement of neighbouring landowners, the five schemes that appear to have the greatest potential would have an estimated combined capacity of 1.5MW.
FCW will pro-actively target suitable community developments on land that they manage working closely with the Energy Saving Trust, Environment Agency Wales and the Countryside Council for Wales to achieve this. This work will also include exploring the potential for hydro developers to promote and take forward development opportunities.
Specific details will be worked up in consultation with other Welsh Assembly Government departments, agencies and stakeholders to ensure that our objectives are met and in order to maximise the potential for community involvement and social enterprise.
Enabling communities to develop hydro-electric schemes within the national woodland estate is in line with our Energy Policy Statement 2010 ‘A Low Carbon Revolution’. In taking forward this work, my officials will work closely with colleagues in the Department of Environment, Sustainability and Housing who oversee ‘Ynni’r Fro’, the Assembly Government’s community renewable energy funding and support programme.
In addition, at present there is one commercial scheme operating on FCW-managed land near Bala and a number of commercial and individual property schemes are in negotiation.