EXCLUSIVE: Top Scots QC offers free legal advice on Scottish renewables, Trump, Brexit, planning and climate-change

EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News

The legal, political and planning battles between billionaire US business man (and now US president) Donald Trump and Alex Salmond (then Scotland’s First Minister) perfectly demonstrate the mess that is the Scottish planning system.

John Campbell, QC, one of the country’s top lawyers who has direct professional experience of the ‘Trump wind farm’ issues, said:

  • The ‘Trump v Salmond’ planning application for an offshore Scottish wind farm degenerated into a clash of personalities and is a perfect microcosm of what is wrong with the planning system in Scotland.
  • “The calling-in procedure <by the government> is a political intervention in planning and the system is so close to Scottish Ministers it can be subverted by the Scottish government.
  • “The entire system is designed to allow the public as little say as possible and I’ve had complaints from Wick to Stranraer about actual and/or proposed wind farm sites.
  • “Some local authority planning departments are helpful, resourceful, and thoughtful. Others less so and overall, it <the planning system> is complicated, messy and slow.”
John Campbell QC
John Campbell, QC

Speaking at the seminal Renewables After Brexit conference held by the Centre for Energy, Petroleum, and Mineral Law & Policy at Dundee University, Campbell also had some (more) free advice for Scotland’s renewables.

He said: “De-carbonisation should be a ‘great national effort’ to safeguard the environment, re-invest in Scotland’s economy and share the benefits with communities across the country.

“However, there’s not much evidence that nearby communities are enthusiastic about wind farms. Local and national politicians have a case to answer to make wind farms more acceptable to the general population – even if they are for the greater good.

“So here’s some free advice for Scotland’s renewable energy sector.

“Stop acting like you’re doing everyone else a favour – and share the benefits properly.

“Do more work on your <corporate> image and make renewables much more people-friendly.

“Talk – but more importantly – listen to peoples’ concerns.”

Cambell then brought the two issues (planning and renewables after Brexit) together by stating that “long-term planning makes good economic sense – irrespective of Brexit – in a system where decisions are made on what (power) is needed, where, and who will pay for it.

“There are many risks facing renewables after Brexit – such as access to EU energy markets, EU funding for energy projects, <in>security of supply, <non>participation in regulatory bodies and shaping and influencing <EU wide> climate-change targets.

“But there are also positives for renewables after Brexit – which could be an opportunity for Scotland to shout much louder about co-operation on climate-change issues.

“We may not yet know what Renewables After Brexit will look like, but we do know already what the EU wants renewables to look like – as they have made clear here: –

EU Report on the Energy Union (30 Nov 2017)

‘Global changes in energy production and demand have a significant impact on geopolitics and industrial competitiveness. This poses serious challenges to Europe, but also creates unique opportunities.

‘In this context, the EU wants to step up its role as a global leader in the clean energy transition while providing energy security to all its citizens. Therefore, its ambition to complete and deliver the Energy Union remains high. The work is by no means finished.

‘Showing ambition on issues such as renewables, energy efficiency, climate action and clean energy innovation and ensuring the right price signals in the market, is a precondition to attract investments in modernising the entire economy.’  


20 Dec 2017

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