New guidelines for windfarms

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has published a new set of guidance to help windfarm development.

The guidance aims to help local authority planners and developers make good development happen in the right places.

It covers siting, design and assessment issues associated with small scale wind energy developments.

It also helps applicants and planners assess the extent to which a development could affect protected areas for birds, and provides a steer on assessing the cumulative impact of onshore windfarms.

The new guidance sets out the roles of the different parties involved and explains when SNH needs to be consulted. It promotes a plan-led and consistent approach to considering development proposals across Scotland, recognising that in some situations different levels of assessment will be required.

Peter Hutchinson, head of advice on planning and renewables at SNH, said: “We support renewable energy as a means of addressing the challenge of climate change. Our role is to provide advice on good practice to planners and developers so they can balance the needs of people and nature with wider social and economic needs. The aim of our advice is to make sure the right developments happen in the right places.

“We recognise however that it would be impractical for us to get involved in all applications. Given the demand on our resources from larger scale renewable energy development, we will be more selective and targeted in our engagement with small scale wind energy proposals. This means we will provide guidance on good practice and target our detailed advice on applications that require environmental impact assessment or a habitats regulations appraisal.”

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “I welcome the launch of Scottish Natural Heritage’s new windfarm guidance. It will help planners and developers consider the needs of people, renewable energy and nature and will help ensure a consistent, streamlined approach to wind turbine applications.”