An agreement signed by the Scottish government aims to halve the planning time for onshore wind developments in the country, to 12 months.
The deal was signed yesterday (21 September) at the Onshore Wind Conference by Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, Neil Gray, cabinet secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy, Gillian Martin, Scottish minister for energy and the environment, and Barry Carruthers, chair of the G12/S5 Onshore Wind Sector Working Group.
Alongside halving the planning time for developments, the Onshore Wind Sector Deal will also ensure that engagement with local communities is carried out at the earliest opportunity to agree a package of community benefits.
This will ultimately support the Scottish government in reaching its target of 20GW onshore wind by 2030, a figure that is more than double Scotland’s current operational capacity of 9.3GW.
Mack said: “Today is a huge moment for the onshore wind industry in Scotland.
“An incredible amount of hard work has gone in to making this deal happen and it is a real benefit to the industry knowing that the time onshore wind farms take to go through planning will be halved to only 12 months. It is also encouraging to see onshore wind farm operators and the Scottish government committed to creating a sustainable solution and a circular economy supply chain for the recycling of wind turbine component parts.
“We look forward to working closely with the Scottish government to ensure the Onshore Wind Sector Deal is effectively implemented on the road to achieving Scotland’s net zero ambitions.”
The agreement has been labelled as a “blueprint” for the rest of the UK by trade association RenewableUK which believes that if this could be replicated, this could “secure investment and jobs in clean tech and ensure that consumers benefit from lower electricity bills”.
Touching on this, RenewableUK’s head of onshore wind, James Robottom, said: “This sends a clear signal that Scotland is open for business for onshore wind, bringing certainty to investors and enabling the industry to build up new supply chains.
“The Scottish Onshore Wind Sector Deal is an excellent blueprint which could be replicated throughout the UK, to drive down electricity bills and boost our energy security. A well-resourced and efficient planning system is needed in every part of the UK to enable new projects to go ahead where they have local support. We also need UK-wide measures to support vital investment in new grid infrastructure so that projects can connect up faster.”
The Onshore Wind Sector Deal comes just weeks after an easing of the de facto ban on onshore wind in England was announced by the UK government – something that industry has criticised as not doing enough for the sector since.