Insiders in the UK renewables industry are increasingly concerned that – in addition to the ‘bonfire of the subsidies’ carried out by the UK Government – the Scottish Government is also emerging as a threat to new investment in the sector
This is because a number of high profile and/or large scale wind turbine parcs are either awaiting an appeal against local authority planning refusal and/or are awaiting a decision by the Scottish Government because of the scale or enviro-political sensitivity of the proposal.
Either way, this means that a number of hitherto economically viable onshore renewable energy applications have been left ‘economically marooned’ by the indecision of Scottish Ministers and now cannot benefit from the UK Governments renewable obligation (RO) subsidy, which was axed by UK Energy Minister Amber Rudd on 18 June 2015.
Citing a specific instance of two Highland wind farm plans to illustrate the general risk, a senior source in Scottish renewables told Scottish Energy News:
“<Energy Minister> He has had the Glencassley and Sallachy Wind farm plans sitting on his desk for more than two years.
“It seems bizarre that he can’t decide one way or the other. However it is worth noting that if he now does decide to approve them they won’t be eligible for renewable subsidies since neither had planning permission before Amber Rudd ended the subsidies in June.”
Glencassley and Sallachy wind farms would both be sited on the west side of Loch Shin, within Wild Land Area 34.The two developments in Sutherland would involve 45 turbines, each three times the height of the Skye Bridge, along with over 30km of new access tracks, and other infrastructure.
The Glencassley estate is currently owned by an offshore company registered in St Helier, Jersey. The application for the development has been submitted by SSE.
The proposed Sallacy development straddles the Sallachy estate – which is owned by a German registered company – and the Duchally estate, which is owned by London-based Mohammed Al Fayed, an Egyptian businessman who once owned Harrods department store. The developer, WKN, is based in Germany.
In reply, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Recent decisions on renewable energy by the UK Government can only be described as anti-business, anti-environment and anti-energy security. The impacts are spreading right across Scotland and the UK. It not just the renewables industry that are affected but also the wider supply chain, including ports and harbours, transmission and distribution, consultancy, communities and the civil engineering sector.
“We have made repeated calls to extend the grace period for all projects currently in the planning system and I am disappointed this doesn’t appear to have been accepted. As the Energy Bill progresses in Westminster we will continue to argue that it is in the interests of business, environment and energy security for the UK Government to mitigate their hard-line stance.
“The UK Government need to consider what urgent actions it can take to restore confidence in the sector with investors.
“The Glencassley wind farm application has yet to be determined and therefore it would not be appropriate for Scottish Ministers to comment on the detail of the proposal.”
Perth-based utility giant SSE – which is behind the Glencassley proposal – said; “When we have the consent decision we will make a full assessment of the project status and will be in a better position to comment.