Planning departments struggle to cope as renewable project applications boom

19 June 2012

Recent reports of local authorities being inundated with wind farm applications show that the owners and managers of land are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that renewable energy could bring. The downside is applications being rejected as being inappropriate or ‘opportunist’, as has recently been the case at Fife Council, who have suggested temporarily halting applications in order to stop bids that they describe as inappropriate. This follows Aberdeenshire Council requesting a six-month halt on wind farm applications after the sheer number of applicants was too much for their planning department to cope with.

Local authorities are clearly making efforts to keep up with the Scottish Government’s target of having 100% of Scotland’s energy needs met by renewables by 2020. But it appears that by not taking into account planning guidance, applicants could be clogging the system for those who have genuinely viable schemes. It will be a difficult job for planning departments within local authorities to ensure the correct balance is struck between achieving the ambitious targets set out by the government, and preventing inappropriate developments that are insensitive to the surrounding landscape. Last month, a major application for a wind farm at Spittal Hill in Caithness was turned down by the Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing after the Highland Council objected to the 30 Turbine scheme which would have had a generating capacity of 77.5MW. The impact to the local surroundings was said to be ‘too great’. The Minister stated: “The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places and Scottish planning policy is clear that the design and location of any wind farm should reflect the scale and character of the landscape and should be considered environmentally acceptable.”
Expert advice from the outset of a project will ensure you are fully informed before any application is made. Inksters have significant experience of advising on renewable energy projects across the Highlands and Islands on croft land. If you need advice on a renewable energy project on croft land, contact Brian Inkster in Glasgow on 0141 229 0880 or by email, or Eilidh Ross in Inverness on 01463 210 333 or by email.


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