The Scottish Government has launched guidance designed to make planning applications for wind energy developments run more smoothly for developers, planning authorities and the communities affected.
The guidance is a result of the GP Wind Project, a Scottish-Government led EU project which looked at the barriers to development of wind energy and ways of reconciling renewable energy objectives with environmental concerns, and actively involving communities in the planning process.
The guidelines were developed in partnership with a wide range of interested parties, including the RSPB, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, SSE and Scottish Power Renewables.
The Scottish Government also announced an “onshore wind taskforce”, which will look at ways to improve the planning consent process for onshore wind while keeping communities involved, consulted and informed, by bringing key players in the planning system including the Scottish Government, developers and statutory consultees (including Scottish Natural Heritage, SEPA, and planning authorities) together to critically examine current procedures.
“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,” says Energy Minister Fergus Ewing. “We have set an ambitious, but achievable, renewable energy target and we are determined to ensure that communities all over Scotland benefit from our renewable energy revolution, which is already bringing jobs and investment. But we are determined that this should be done in an sustainable way, sympathetic to the needs of communities and protecting the environment and our fantastic natural heritage.”
David Gardner, Director of SSE Renewables (onshore), says: “Many other countries across Europe will benefit from Scotland demonstrating a leading role in delivering good practice in renewable energy development, but we can always learn to do better, and sharing good practice across the industry in this way is a very positive step.”