Steven McMahon, VP Sales and Marketing, Orenda Energy Solutions, says that current planning regulations ‘vary too much.’
“When are we going to reach broad agreement from Scotland’s local planning authorities in their approach to wind turbine planning applications?” he asked.
“There’s a growing concern that it is taking too long moving these applications through a cumbersome and protracted system. We run the risk of lagging behind the rest of Europe in these matters.
“And, if we are to be on target and in line with the Scottish Government’s Renewables strategy over the coming years, we need to do more to align our thinking on planning applications across the country. In other words, we need consensus.
“Current planning regulations vary too much. The approach is too disparate. There are differences depending on which Environmental Planning office you speak with so isn’t about time a concerted effort was channelled into making this system easier especially for farmers and private landowners who wish to erect small/medium turbines for their power generation?
“Look across Europe and you’ll see a robust, yet unburdened approach. Planning for small/medium wind turbines in Italy is governed by tight regulation, but their process is far quicker and is not weighed down by a sluggish and tiered administrative process. For turbines up to 60kW, the Italian Ministry for the Environment and Territory requires GPDO – General Purpose Development Order documentation to enable a small/medium turbine to be sited and installed. It’s a relatively straight forward process, carried out within a set timeframe and
“The process in Scotland remains largely slow and bureaucratic. It effects the planning, siting and installation of small and medium size wind turbines – those used, by farmers, smallholders or private landowners, just as it does to the large wind turbines, which have become an intrinsic part of our rural landscape.
“I think a great opportunity is being missed here. Those wanting to install small and medium wind turbines can create hybrid renewable energy systems with solar or biofuel, creating even more possibilities for self-sustainment.
“The price of conventional energy sources, especially fossil fuels, is constantly rising, whereas the costs of small wind, in particular, are showing a gradual decline, emphasising the attractiveness of these technologies. However, local planning consent needs to be adjusted, so more landowners and farmers can an option to adopt these initiatives.
“We need a standardised approach in planning consent laws across Scotland, not a long drawn out process which can take months to progress and above all, we need to accelerate specification changes to encompass small/medium wind turbine applications and not have a uniform – ‘one size fits all’ approach to wind turbine applications, as is currently the case.”