James Evans has asked for an assurance that the Welsh Government will listen to planning advice over proposals for the erection of pylons in his constituency.

The Brecon and Radnorshire MS asked at the Senedd for an update on the Government's position on Bute Energy's proposals for Mid Wales.

Mr Evans said: “Since Bute Energy and Green GEN Cymru's proposals to erect 60 miles of pylons across my constituency, I've been inundated with emails from constituents who are very concerned about the scheme.

“Many of my residents are concerned as Welsh Government ministers have previously overruled local planning committees and the planning inspector to grant applications against planning advice, such as with the Hendy wind farm.

“They said that delivering renewable energy was a material consideration, and the minister didn't agree with what the planning inspector had said.”

Mr Evans asked First Minister, Mark Drakeford, how his constituents could be assured that the Welsh Government will listen to communities and follow planning advice when determining a development of national significance.

The First Minister told Mr Evans that any decision that a Welsh Government minister makes in such a context is challengeable through the courts.

The First Minster said: "We are always open to judicial review if we do not act in accordance with the established procedure, and that certainly means that we take into account the views of people who are affected by planning decisions - that is the confidence people locally can have."

The First Minister added by saying that the Welsh Government operates by "open, available and challengeable decisions" and does so in such a way that they are abiding by all the requirements of the law.

The following day, Mr Evans had the opportunity to once again quiz the Minister for Climate Change Julie James MS on the pylon proposals.

The Minister responded to Mr Evans saying: "I have regular discussions with industry as pre-planning stages - notes on my meetings with Bute Energy are freely available.

"Regarding the Nant Mithil Energy Park, Welsh Government ministers are the decision makers on decisions of national significance and consequently I am unable to comment on the specifics of the project."

Mr Evans said that Bute Energy's proposals to build an “industrial-scale windfarm” in Radnor Forest have “gone down extremely badly” with a lot of his constituents.

Mr Evans said: “Many of the turbines sit outside of the pre-assessed area in the National Development Framework.

“Does this now mean that the NDF is no longer valid and that energy companies with the biggest cheque books can do what they want in rural Mid Wales?”

Ms James said that national planning policy sets out the Welsh Government's preferred policy on new power lines that "where possible - should go undergound" and further sets out where pre-assessed areas are - but added that this "does not mean they can't go anywhere else".

She told Mr Evans: “The decision needs to be made properly in a quasi-judicial manner, and that is what we will do."

Speaking after this week's Senedd sessions, Mr Evans said: "The response from the First Minister was very telling as he stated, ‘any decisions are challengeable in the Courts and open to judicial review’.  We know from experience of judicial reviews that this process rarely change decisions.

“The Minister for Climate Change response was also disappointing. What was the point of the pre-assessed areas and the National Development Framework if anyone can apply outside of these areas? It's yet again a Welsh Government policy which is not worth the paper it is written on.

“As I said in the Chamber, I am concerned that anyone with a large enough cheque book can do what they want in Mid Wales. I am yet to receive assurances from either the First Minister or Minister for Climate Change that local voices will be heard and taken into account in this process.”