Guidance to aid wind farm development in Scotland

24 August 2012

The recent growth in the renewable energy sector - and specifically wind farming - has been much publicised, with some Councils having to call a temporary halt to accepting applications due to being overwhelmed by applicants.
The Scottish Government has now launched guidance to those potentially involved in a development. The guidance was the result of consultation with several interested parties, including RSPB, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, SSE and Scottish Power Renewables. The guidance is available through a website, Good Practice Wind (GP Wind).

At the moment, local authorities have to deal with a large volume of applications for wind development, not all of which will be suitable to progress past the early stages. This new information resource aims to clarify the process.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “I’m delighted to launch these materials, developed with industry, planning authorities and stakeholders, which aim to make the planning process for wind developments go more smoothly for everyone involved.

“The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places, and this guidance will help to ensure that – while also making sure there are fewer unsuitable applications and that communities are properly consulted and informed.”

Also announced was an ‘onshore wind taskforce’ which will aim to streamline the planning processes for wind developments while making sure the communities hosting such projects are kept involved. There can be significant financial benefits for the communities where wind farms are sited, both from the boost in jobs during their construction and the revenue generated from selling the power produced back to the National Grid. Typically, a community fund will be created, with local people having a say in how money is invested in projects that will benefit those who live there.

The GP Wind website also contains a useful library full of research, reports and case studies from the UK and around the world, which may help groups considering a development to plan and research their project.

The Scottish Government are placing great importance on the renewable energy sector as a key driver in Scotland’s economy, with an ambitious plan to have 100% of the country’s power generated by renewable sources by 2020. The First Minister this week opened an innovative renewables training hub in Renfrew. It plans to train sixty modern apprentices at the Renewable Energy Skills Training Academy, operated by Steel Engineering. The site has recently been expanded to help meet the demand from the renewable sector. This follows on from the announcement that the first community-owned tidal turbine will not only be located in Scotland, but made here too. The turbine will be used to power an ice plant and industrial estate in North Yell in Shetland. The project received a grant of £150,000 from the Scottish Government to aid its development.

With opportunities for both large scale and smaller developers to become involved in this industry, it is hoped that these attempts to clarify the process involved in realising a development will bring benefits for landowners, developers and local authorities alike.

Inksters have significant experience in advising on renewable projects, largely on croft land where the relationship between landlord, crofter and developer needs to be managed carefully. If you would like further information, contact Brian Inkster in Glasgow and Eilidh Ross in Inverness. 

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