Scottish Renewables urge planning overhaul

As Westminster published its Localism Bill yesterday, trade organisation Scottish Renewables has called for changes in the regulatory and planning regimes north of the border to realise Scotland’s renewable ambitions. […]

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By Kelvin Ross

As Westminster published its Localism Bill yesterday, trade organisation Scottish Renewables has called for changes in the regulatory and planning regimes north of the border to realise Scotland’s renewable ambitions.

The launch of a new policy paper – Driving the Low Carbon Economy: Planning – highlights changes needed to increase efficiency, drive down cost and minimise project delays, which the group says will result in massive economic, environmental and energy security benefits to Scotland.

The paper is the fifth in a series produced in the run-up to the Holyrood 2011 election.

Written by Scottish Renewables policy manager for planning, Rosie Vetter, the paper states: “There is a huge amount of potential to develop renewable energy in Scotland. To realise this, we need to ensure that the regulatory and planning regimes work together to minimise delays, reduce costs and ensure applications are dealt with as efficiently as possible.

The paper adds that “it is critical to the achievement of our renewable energy and carbon reduction targets… that local planning authorities adopt a genuinely positive approach towards renewable energy development, recognising both national priorities and the local socio-economic benefits of projects”.

It also urges statutory consultees to “ensure clarity is given when commenting on proposed developments. Any uncertainty around consultee advice on an application makes determination by the planning officer more difficult and results in unnecessary delay”.

Scottish Renewables wants the government to provide “a clear steer to local authorities to only develop and adopt a development plan and supplementary guidance that are consistent with national policy, and that any plan or guidance that is adopted without consultation is likely to be given limited weight in the determination of planning appeals”.