Monday, 8 August 2011
PLANNING A PRIORITY AS NFUS WELCOMES AGRI-ENERGY STRATEGY
NFU Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that it will develop an Agri-Renewables Strategy, with planning and grid connections identified as key challenges for farmers and land managers.
The Scottish Government’s announcement comes just two weeks after NFUS wrote to Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney calling for an independent expert group on renewables, highlighting the troubles NFUS members are facing with planning applications for renewable projects and connection to the national grid.
NFUS is prepared to help wherever necessary in providing information and support to all those involved in drafting the Agri-Renewables Strategy, believing firmly that agriculture has a crucial role to play in helping the Scottish Government achieve its very ambitious targets for carbon reduction, climate change and renewable energy provision.
NFU Scotland’s President, Nigel Miller said:
“The Scottish Government’s announcement that it will draw up an Agri-Renewables Strategy, with the assistance of industry representatives, is welcome and could be valuable for all farmers wanting to make the most of the opportunities for producing green energy on their land.
“The Scottish Government’s manifesto commitment to develop this strategy and, in particular, to simplify the planning process, were spot on. Scottish farmers and crofters have already contributed a great deal in terms of cutting carbon emissions and installing the means of producing renewable energy on their land, however, inconsistencies and constraints in the planning system mean that many farmers are struggling to get energy projects off the ground.
“The ambitious target to be able to produce 100% of our electricity demand equivalent from renewable sources by 2020 could be attainable, but we need a clear steer from the Scottish Government in setting out nationwide planning guidance and priorities for those applying for and approving renewable projects.
“NFU Scotland has built up a long list of examples from among its membership of where the system is and is not working and will offer to work closely with the Scottish Government and other industry representatives in order to help our farmers and crofters contribute to Scotland’s renewable energy aims.
“We have already got the ball rolling in tackling the planning issue and, in addition to our contact with the Scottish Government, we are meeting Scotland’s chief planner next week with a view to addressing the obstacles and anomalies that exist within the planning system and between Scotland’s local authorities.”