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Greater Cohesion Needed to Capture Renewables Potential

NFU Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to help drive greater cohesion across the agri-renewables sector to capture the enormous potential that exists to generate energy on-farm and deliver on Scotland’s ambitious energy targets.

Chairing the second day of Energy Now Scotland, an event being held at Ingliston near Edinburgh, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said there was a real buzz amongst farmers and landowners about renewable energy. 

However, he added that delivery on Scotland’s agri-renewables strategy would benefit from greater Scottish Government intervention to ensure all parties – farmers, the industry, the public and local authorities – shared in the renewables vision.

The call came as Scottish Government revealed that 2012 was on track to be best renewables year yet. Renewable electricity generation in the first half of 2012 was 13 per cent higher than the same period last year, and around 35 per cent of Scottish electricity demand in 2011 was met from renewables, exceeding the target of 31 per cent.  Installed renewable capacity at the end of the second quarter of 2012 was also up by 18.6 per cent on the previous year, highlighting the growth in the sector.

Speaking at the event, Mr Miller said:

“It is a big ask for Scotland to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources in the future but the reality is that we are making huge progress and a lot of people in the rural community are driving and investing in this vision.

“But progress appears to be bringing more hurdles.  Renewables does have an impact on the environment and can bring rigid controls.  Like farming, renewable developments are in the public eye.   It is also right at the middle of politics – both local and national - because this is about driving ambitious targets at time when there is not a lot of money about.

“The vision, innovation, investment and enthusiasm around renewables have already gone way beyond the basic implementation strategy that we require to make them work.  The last few months have clearly shown that planning controls, grid connection and grid capacity are now the real limiting factors to progress.

“The Scottish Government’s agri-renewables strategy presents a fantastic vision that land managers and owners and rural business have bought into.  They realise the potential of energy generation from their land and resources but Scottish Government now needs to go further than vision.

“The strategy looks at issues like grid connections and planning but to secure a consistent approach across Scotland, it needs the Scottish Government to be more interventionist and proactive, sitting down with local authorities and regions to come up with a strategy that works.

“The problems some are experiencing with the planning process, grid access and local authorities were raised several times today.  We need to break through that and have a more collaborative approach where local authorities work better with Scottish Government to deliver on targets.

“Sorting this out quickly is key to continuing our impressive track record in energy generation and the role of the farming industry in that.  Offshore generation presents huge potential but the reality is that targets are more likely to be realised on land.   Farm businesses, estates and crofters can provide the platform for consistent supply of electricity, whether that be generated by wind, hydro or anaerobic digestion.

“The rural community will have a huge part to play in Scotland hitting target its renewable energy target in 2020.”

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 104/12


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