Tariff Cuts Risk Undermining Farm-Based Renewables

Union’s initiative shows huge energy potential on Scottish farms

Cuts to tariffs which support farm-based renewables could undermine the huge energy generating potential of Scottish farms and hold Scotland back from reaching its world-leading energy and climate change targets.

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) proposals to cut Feed in Tariffs (FiTs) by up to 87 percent in the New Year will have a damaging impact on the many NFU Scotland members looking to diversify into renewable energy. FiTs are the government’s subsidy scheme that supports the generation of renewable energy from small-scale installations.

The proposed cuts come at a time when the Union’s Renewable Development Initiative (RDI) comes to the end of a 27-month long programme that gave more than 1,000 Scottish farmers the opportunity to see a huge range of renewable technology that had either been installed on farm or was at the planning stage.

The final RDI event takes place today (16 December) at Cronan Farm near Coupar Angus where the McLaren family will share with fellow farmers their experience of installing solar and investing in battery storage – recognised as the ‘next big thing’ in renewables.

Throughout its lifetime, the RDI, managed by Savills Smiths Gore, has given Scottish farmers the chance to see the following technologies in action – wind, solar PV, solar thermal, biomass, air/ground source heat pumps, hydro, hydrogen, gasification, anaerobic digestion, district heating, battery storage, combined heat and power and community-owned projects.

NFU Scotland Vice President Andrew McCornick said: “Westminster rhetoric on supporting cleaner, greener energy as a route to tackling climate change in a positive manner will be seen as little more than a smokescreen should it proceed with its proposed cuts to tariffs.

“On farm renewable projects are providing Scottish farming businesses with a valuable opportunity to diversify their income streams and reduce their exposure to volatile commodity prices by generating green energy, reducing their carbon footprint in most cases, significantly cutting their own energy bills and driving forward efficiency.

“Renewable energy is not only making a huge difference to many farm businesses but is now supporting more than 11,000 jobs, many of these with smaller scale companies in remote rural areas.  Cuts to FiTs places that at risk as on farm renewables will no longer be a viable option for many.

“That places Scotland’s future renewables development at risk when our ground-breaking RDI initiative, managed by Savills Smiths Gore and funded by Scottish Government, has clearly shown that the potential for on-farm take up is huge.

“We have had more than 1,000 visitors to our RDI events looking to learn more about renewables and what it could do for their businesses.

“With the RDI term now over, discussions are already under way on how best to move forward with a new project looking more at the future of renewables with reduced or no tariffs in place, examining energy storage and efficiency and how to access any available grants and funding. Once they are formalised, we will be looking to the Scottish Government to fund and support so that momentum in this area can continue.

“With the vast majority of farms looking seriously at reducing energy costs, it is hoped that a future series of events would put all of our members on the road to using less energy and saving money that can be reinvested elsewhere on the farm.”  

Thomas McMillan, Director of Savills Smiths Gore has been the lead facilitator of the RDI events.  He said:  “Over the last two and a half years we have held 27 renewable energy open days across Scotland attended by over 1,000 delegates.

“These events have made a real difference to farmers, landowners and community groups who are looking to develop renewable energy projects.  Independent and trustworthy advice, the cornerstone of these events, has been welcomed by participants in what is a fast moving and constantly changing sector.”

Note to Editors

  • Further details on the events, including case studies, can be found on
  • Photographs from today’s RDI at Coupar Angus will be available on Thursday 17 December from or by calling 0131 472 4108


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 231/15

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