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Winds Of Change – Reasons To Be Positive

Winds Of Change – Reasons To Be Positive

Craig Whelton

The renewables industry will gather in Edinburgh tomorrow for the annual Scottish Renewables Green Energy Awards.  It is always a fantastic occasion, and an opportunity for all those in the industry to look back on the last twelve months, and forward to what the next twelve may bring.

2015 has been a challenging year for the industry, and for the onshore wind sector in particular.

The UK government’s announcement that they were accelerating the closure of the Renewables Obligation, was followed by an intense period of political lobbying which has, for now, provided something of a stay of execution.  Whilst the UK Government’s proposals for early closure have not yet taken effect, it has created uncertainty for developers and funders, as the level of Government support remains wholly unclear.

There have also been a number of notable planning refusals for onshore wind farm schemes in England and Wales, including a refusal by the Secretary of State for the large scale Mynydd Y Gwynt project in Wales, a decision made contrary to the planning inspector’s recommendation of approval.

However, it would be wrong to say the policy landscape has turned wholly anti onshore wind.  In November the Scottish Government’s Chief Planner issued a letter to the heads of planning of all Scotland’s local authorities, in which he confirmed the Scottish Government’s target to generate at least 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 remained, notwithstanding the changes to the renewable obligation for onshore wind. 

In a statement that should provide encouragement for those involved in community wind schemes, the Chief Planner also confirmed that the Scottish Government is considering raising the target of at least 500MW of renewable energy being in community and local ownership. 

The appetite from local communities to get involved in the renewables industry remains strong, and the Chief Planner’s letter, which is a material consideration in the determination of planning applications, provides a welcome reminder of the existing planning policy support for renewables, and community renewables in particular.  

At Burness Paull we have a market-leading renewables team and we are Scotland’s pre-eminent law firm on community renewables, advising on Projects from the Borders to the Outer Hebridies.  Should you have any queries on community energy projects or renewables in general please do not hesitate to get in touch.

We are looking  forward to catching up with our clients and many of those whom we work with in the industry at tomorrow’s Green Energy Awards.

Craig Whelton