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Union Calls for Better Platform for Renewables

NFU Scotland has used a keynote speech at a major conference on renewable energy to call on Government and local authorities to develop a better platform that will allow on-farm energy generation in Scotland to meet its full potential.

Speaking at the On-Farm Energy Generation conference at Ingliston, NFUS Head of Rural Policy Jonnie Hall said there were huge opportunities for farm-based projects to generate much needed revenue and income.   Fully developing those opportunities would undoubtedly see Scottish farmers drive Scotland towards its ambitious targets on climate change mitigation.

However, Mr Hall warned that the potential for energy creation on farm would only be unlocked if a simpler and consistent system could be developed to help farm businesses through the maze of grants, tariffs, planning requirements and grid connection.

Delivering the keynote speech, Mr Hall said:

“Looking at it from a purely financial perspective, there are many reasons why Scottish farm businesses should be considering what contribution renewable energy could make by way of revenue generation or creating new income streams.  While such decisions are being made at an individual business level, the big picture is that on-farm renewable projects will make a very significant contribution towards Scotland’s climate change targets.

“The problem at farm level, however, is that delivery on key issues such as grant support, tariffs and planning can be confusing and, at times, conflicting.  We have the tools available to take renewables in Scotland to a new level – Rural Priorities funding, Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) and the new Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) expected this summer.  The problem is developing a platform where they can all work together to make a genuine difference.

“As an example of the current problem, securing the current FiTs rates for generating energy can be crucial to the viability of any renewable project.  However, we have yet to resolve the issue whereby renewable developments assisted by funding through the Rural Priorities scheme are unable to qualify for FiTs.  The fact that two crucial parts of the jigsaw do not fit together is hampering the development of the whole on-farm renewables potential in Scotland.

 “When you also take into consideration the frustration generated by the inconsistent approach to planning applications seen across local authority areas, then there are a number of pitfalls holding back development in this area.

“If there were to be a presumption in favour of planning permission adopted by local authorities, and all local authorities delivered a consistent approach, then simply by easing the worry associated with planning application would provide a boost to the renewables sector.   Also, by giving consideration to some additional financial incentives for energy saving at farm level– similar to those available to private individuals – and we could truly start to unlock the vast potential for energy creation that exists on Scottish farms to realistically help tackle climate change.”  

Notes to Editors

  • Jonnie Hall was speaking at the On-Farm Energy Generation Conference being held at Ingliston, near Edinburgh today (Thursday, 20 January).

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 06/11


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