Thursday 22 September 2011

Controlling policy, or refusing planning consent

The argument put forward by the UK Government for not devolving planning control over large energy projects to Wales seems to be based largely on the statement that “We believe that a streamlined planning system that minimises delays and ensures investor confidence is best delivered through a unified planning system for major infrastructure for England and Wales together”.
The basis for that ‘belief’ is unstated; presumably, it’s so obviously true to them that it doesn’t need stating.  (Although the statement does display their keenness to look after the interests of 'investors' rather then residents.)  It won’t be so obvious to others though, particularly since the same logic is not being applied to Scotland.  If a unified system works better for EnglandandWales than two separate systems, why would the same not be true for a unified UK system?
The same issue of the Western Mail contains a contribution from Owen Smith MP to the letters page, deprecating the suggestion that Wales should have its own cricket team.  His logic appears to be that “In cricket, as in so many aspects of life, we are stronger together”.
Again, it’s presented as some sort of self-evident truth; but why would the same not be true in the field of rugby, say?  Doesn’t consistency of argument require the author to advocate the abolition of the WRU?
The common thread between the two questions is an innate (small c) conservatism; what exists today should continue to exist.  It’s based, at heart, on axiom.
The way in which the energy decision has been portrayed is a more serious issue.  The Welsh Government hasn’t really proposed the devolution of powers over energy policy, although that’s what the story suggests.  The debate is simply about planning control over energy projects - that is not at all the same thing.  It’s more about having the right to say ‘no’ to specific projects than about taking responsibility for developing and implementing a sustainable energy policy for Wales into the future.
I’d be much more supportive of the Welsh Government’s position if Welsh Ministers were to formally ask for full devolution of energy policy rather than just planning control.  I suspect, though, that they may be more than a little frightened of the responsibility that would accompany that.


Anonymous said...

What, Welsh Labour wanting control of things being built in Wales? What? That'll mean, that, erm, that, Wales would have a brain, and you know, if the Welsh people see that we can control planning, then what ever next, they'll want more power!

No, better to put our heads in the sand, make up some cocked up theory about it 'being impossible'. Heavens, Owen Smith won't be able to be an MP if we had too much power.

Never mind. The Tories will win the next election in London and Labour will be out of power for another 5 years. Mr Smith will never get his hands on the reigns of power.

Well done English voters - they're not stupid enough to vote Labour.

It's like living in Breshnev USSR with Welsh Labour in power.

Welsh Labour - not even British nationalist any more, just English nationalists.

Boncath said...

The unified system referred to hides a simple agenda that it is in our interest ie Englands interest that this is so
Regretably there is no evidence to support the idea that one size fits all in life so the only basis for this belief is that of having control over others