A better plan is needed for any energy progress

Growing concern over a cumbersome, protracted system of wind turbine planning. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Growing concern over a cumbersome, protracted system of wind turbine planning. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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When are we going to reach broad agreement from Scotland’s local planning authorities in their approach to wind turbine planning applications?

There’s a growing concern that it’s taking too long to move these applications through a cumbersome, protracted system. We run the risk of lagging behind the rest of Europe if we are to be on target and in line with the Scottish Government’s Renewables strategy over the coming year

Current planning regulations vary too much. There are differences depending on which environmental planning office you speak with. It’s 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. 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.

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 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.

• Steve McMahon is the VP sales and marketing, Orenda Energy Solutions