Farming Futures

Farming is an uncertain business – who can predict what the weather will be like for silaging? Or market prices in six months time? One thing is certain though, the well-informed farmer is in the best position to ride out the peaks and troughs and to maximise their income.

On Thursday, March 10, chartered surveyors H&H Bowe will host a free seminar at the Summerton Hotel in Lockerbie which aims to give a bit more certainty on how things might change for farmers across South West Scotland in two important areas in the next few months and years. Firstly, information will be given on the challenges and opportunities offered by renewable energy, including the role of the planning system. And secondly, the future of the various payment schemes which are critical to the income stream of farmers will be explored.

H&H Bowe has developed a service to offer impartial, independent advice to farmers and homeowners on renewable energy and the associated issue of planning. The company’s energy specialist, Alistair Fell, will explain all the options currently available to farmers. Although most tend to be interested in the installation of wind turbines, the associated expenses and planning applications can be onerous. Consequently Alistair will also review the financial and practical implications of hydroelectric schemes, anaerobic digestion, solar power, biomass and ground and air source heat pumps.

One area of particular concern is the recent government announcement that it will bring forward a planned review of feed in tariffs by a whole year.

Alistair said: “This move was unexpected and has serious implications for Scottish farmers. It seems the government does not want the sector to be dominated by large scale solar farms, preferring to encourage smaller and domestic users to install solar panels. It is hoped that new tariffs will be confirmed by the end of the year but in the meantime this is creating a lot of uncertainty.”

This is still very much a time of opportunity but this announcement has underlined how rapidly new developments and updates to legislation are occurring. There is a whole range of schemes out there so it’s well worth speaking to an independent advisor on how best to venture into the world of renewable energy.” Fellow speaker and chartered town planner, Neil Henderson will discuss the complex planning issues associated with renewables technologies. The UK has committed to producing 15 per cent of its energy through renewables by 2020. It is an ambitious target and while national planning policy supports proposals of all sizes, the situation is less clear. at local level where opposition to schemes is common.

While wind turbines have made the largest contribution to green power and applications continue to rise, the proportion of Scottish local authority approvals has fallen significantly in the last 12 months. Consequently Neil, who is currently working with clients on planning applications for renewable schemes, will be emphasising the need to put forward well planned and professional applications to minimise obstacles.

To round off the evening, Senior Agricultural Advisor Andy Dyer, from H&H Bowe, in conjunction with a representative from SEERAD, will talk about the single payment scheme, cross compliance, environmental stewardship and how current policy and future developments will impact on Scottish farming businesses.

The H&H Bowe Renewable Energy seminar will be held on 10th March at 7pm at The Summerton Hotel in Lockerbie. Places are free but must be booked in advance by contacting Judy Irving on 01228 406206.

For further information contact:

John Robson, Managing Director, H&H Bowe Limited, Borderway, Rosehill, Carlisle, CA1 2RS

Telephone 01228 406260