Infrastructure (Wales) Bill 2023


Infrastructure (Wales) Bill 2023 – What exactly is this legislation?

In a nutshell...


The Infrastructure (Wales) Bill is intended to introduce a streamlined process for consenting major infrastructure projects in Wales. The legislation currently in force can mean that-

  • You currently require separate applications for specific permissions, consents and licenses.
  • Leads to hassles for developers and for those involved in different processes.

The bill establishes a new system that takes a 'one stop shop' approach where consents and permissions can be sought within a single application and decision-making process.
The bill is intended to reform how infrastructure is consented to in Wales by establishing a unified process, known as infrastructure consent, for certain types of major infrastructure known as significant infrastructure projects (SIPs). These include energy, transport, waste, water and gas projects in excess of the specified size or capacity of thresholds on land and at sea around Wales (known as the Welsh marine area).

What the new legislation seeks to achieve is that the new approach is more transparent and consistent enabling local communities to better understand and relate to decisions. The new regime also provides further certainty in decision-making backed by clear policies.
The Bill is vital to delivering major infrastructure in Wales on time and on time. It is also an important step towards meeting Welsh Government commitments on renewable energy and 'net zero' emissions by 2050.

Like any other legislation - during the development of the Bill, the principles of the new system were subject to a full public consultation process as well as ongoing engagement with key stakeholders. 


Where is the legislature at it in the Senate's legislative process?

The bill's passage through Parliament has effectively reached its final stage, stage 4 out of 4. The principles of the measure are established at stage 1, following which the meat was placed on the skeleton of the legislation at stage 2. Members of the Senedd proposed amendments to the bill at stage 3, before it was given the go-ahead by Parliament at the final stage (Stage 4).


But there are a number of concerns about the measure, including-

  • Lack of stakeholder participation- If the bill is developed without sufficient input from stakeholders such as local communities, industry experts, and environmental organizations, it may ignore important considerations and face opposition in its implementation.
  • Lack of adequate funding- Large infrastructure projects often require significant financial resources. If the bill does not allocate adequate funding or fails to secure funding sources, it can lead to delays, cost overruns, or leave projects uncompleted.
  • Environmental Impact- Large-scale infrastructure projects can have significant environmental impacts, including habitat destruction, pollution and carbon emissions. If the Bill does not include robust environmental protection or mitigation measures, it can lead to ecological harm and opposition from environmental groups
  • Social Impacts- Infrastructure projects can also have social implications, such as changes to communities, displacement of residents, and impacts on cultural heritage. Failure to address these social concerns in the Bill can lead to social disruption, protests or legal challenges.
  • Inadequate Planning and Risk Management- Poor planning and risk management can lead to project delays, cost overruns, and quality issues. The Bill should include provisions for thorough project planning, risk assessment, and contingency planning to reduce these risks.
  • Regulatory Challenges- Infrastructure projects are subject to various regulatory requirements at the local, regional and national levels. If the Bill does not streamline regulatory processes or provide clarity on regulatory requirements, it can lead to delays and bureaucratic complications
  • Outdated Technology- Infrastructure projects often have long life cycles, and technology can evolve rapidly. If the Bill does not account for technological advances or future safeguards, it may lead to prematurely obsolete infrastructure.

Those are the concerns, on what is Plaid Cymru's position on the bill?

It is important to note that Plaid Cymru will support the Bill. Despite its imperfections, we believe that the Infrastructure (Wales) Bill is a step forward in shaping the future of infrastructure development in Wales.

Plaid Cymru has been actively involved in the legislative process surrounding the Bill. At earlier stages of the process, we delivered improvements aimed at democratising the planning process and making it more accessible to those affected by infrastructure development. These improvements were vital to ensuring that the voices of our communities were heard and their concerns were taken into account.

The legislation is in the final stage of the legislative process, Stage 4, where no further amendments can be made, However, the Minister is committed to working closely with Plaid Cymru on future regulations relating to the implementation of this Bill. Plaid Cymru will work to ensure that the concerns highlighted above are addressed through regulatory frameworks and implementation mechanisms.

It is important to note that the opportunity to suggest amendments to legislation arises earlier in the legislative process, usually at Stages 2 and 3. While Stage 4 represents the final stage before royal assent, where no improvements can be made, input and engagement remain invaluable in shaping future legislation.

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