EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News
A Scottish power chief has dropped strong hints that his Big Six energy company wants the Scot-Govt to effectively tell anti-wind farm NIMBY protestors to ‘shut up and go away’.
Gaining planning permission for onshore wind-turbine parcs can be complex, costly and uncertain – even though developers have the final option of appeal to the Scot-Govt even where the local authority has rejected a bid.
Now Paul Cooley, head of generation development at Pearth-based utility giant SSE, has urged the Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse to ‘man up’ and ensure that local planning authorities give more consideration to national energy policy in considering applications for new wind-power farms.
In effect, Cooley is clearly coming down on the ‘economy’ side of the ‘environment versus the economy’ balancing act which many local cooncillors face in considering planning development applications.
Additionally, local party rivalry can also result in a NIMBY-ism ‘arms race’ where local cooncillors have to balance the risk of not getting re-elected against the national economic benefit in permitting renewable energy developments.
Cooley said: “With the falling costs of onshore wind, and a clear focus on the cost of energy, there is a now strong case for the UK Government to allow onshore wind to compete in the Contracts for Difference auctions. A number of reports have now shown that with access to a contract to stabilise revenues, onshore wind could be built without any additional cost to customers.
“But equally critical to onshore wind prospects is for the Scottish Government to use the planning system to enable low carbon infrastructure and energy generation.
“This means aligning planning policy with the objectives of the Scottish Energy Strategy to facilitate the development of new sites and the repowering of existing ones with more efficient < ie ‘even bigger’ > turbines.
“Now owning and operating more than 1,000 onshore wind turbines, we pride ourselves as being a leading developer of onshore wind projects, and we are ready to work with the UK and Scottish Governments to ensure onshore wind can continue to be a part of the energy mix in future.
“Onshore wind is a success story, making up 70% of Scotland’s installed renewable capacity. The onshore wind industry has created jobs, supported a growing and indigenous supply chain, and reduced carbon emissions.”
Cooley was speaking after Stronelairg wind farm – which attracted strong opposition from the local community, among others – was connected to the Scottish national grid last weekend.
The 66-turbine onshore wind farm, near Fort Augustus in the Highlands, is the last of SSE’s onshore wind projects to be benefit from the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy.
5 Apr 2018