SCOTLAND has launched guidance designed to make planning applications for wind energy developments run more smoothly for developers, planning authorities and affected communities.
The guidance is a result of the GP Wind Project, a Scottish-Government led EU project that looked at the barriers to development of wind energy and ways of reconciling renewable energy objectives with environmental concerns.
The strategy was developed alongside organisations such as Western Isles Council and Scottish Power Renewables.
Energy minister Fergus Ewing also announced an onshore wind task force to look at ways of improving the consent process for onshore projects while keeping communities informed by bringing together key players in the planning system to examine current procedures.
Ewing said: “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.
“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.”
Councillor Angus Campbell, leader of Western Isles Council, commented: “As an island community on the edge of Europe, the Outer Hebrides stand to lose the most from the impacts of climate change but these islands are also home to one of the best wind and wave resources in Europe.
“If we are to decarbonise our energy supply, it is vital that the boundless energy resource in areas like the Outer Hebrides is accessed but that this is done in an environmentally responsible way. In this process, we need to address and resolve the challenges which currently hamper the implementation of wind generation, on and offshore, across Europe.”
At the same time, five marine energy developers will benefit from £7.9m worth of funding to further develop testing of new wave and tidal prototypes in the seas around Scotland.
The second round of WATERS (Wave & Tidal Energy: Research, Development & Demonstration Support) funding is to enable Scottish developers and supply chain firms to capture an increased share of the international marine energy market which could be worth up to £4 billion to Scotland’s economy by 2020.
Among the recipients is Scotrenewables Tidal Power which was awarded a £1.2m grant towards a £9.24m project to design, construct and install a two-megawatt SR 2000 commercial-scale floating tidal turbine.
Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon recently viewed the company’s SR 250 (kW) tidal turbine prototype in Kirkwall where she said: “Ambitious clean-tech developers such as Scotrenewables Tidal Power and the prototypes they are developing are testament to how far the marine renewables sector has progressed in just a few years.”