Renewable energy - planning process
Do renewable energy proposals need planning permission?
The majority of onshore renewable energy proposals represent development and require planning consent, unless they constitute permitted development. Offshore renewable energy developments are subject to a different consenting process.
Do renewable energy proposals need an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)?
It is likely that any significant onshore renewable energy proposals, such as significant biomass proposals and the majority of wind farm proposals will require an EIA, more information on this is available on the EIA page.
When should a developer contact the Council?
It is advisable for developers to contact us at an early stage in the selection and design of potential sites.
In the case of wind energy, proposals can take the form of a planning application for wind monitoring masts, used to help in the assessment of potential sites. Such consultation can usefully inform initial stages of the EIA screening and scoping process. They can also help us assess the potential acceptability of specific proposals, particularly their compatibility with the relevant development plan.
When should the public be made aware of the proposal?
Where a proposal is likely to be potentially contentious, early dialogue and consultation with the general public can be a useful way of spreading information about particular projects. It can also help to counter both uncertainty and misconceptions regarding the nature and impacts of particular proposals.
A public consultation is also a useful means of identifying legitimate public concerns about particular proposals, so that these can be addressed both in the detailed design of submitted proposals, and in associated, supporting information.
What sorts of proposals are coming forward?
Throughout much of the UK, the most significant and controversial renewable energy proposals in the foreseeable future are likely to relate to proposals for wind energy development. And this is also the case in Perth and Kinross. A list of renewable energy proposals and their status can be found on the Renewable Energy Proposals page.
In addition to wind, it is likely that proposals for biomass generation will increase in number as the technology matures and feedstock production increases. Smaller proposals for ground-source heat, domestic solar/photovoltaic panels and domestic wind turbines are also likely to increase in number as they become more widely available and costs come down.
Who deals with the planning applications?
The majority of planning applications for renewable energy developments are dealt with by us. However, responsibility for authorising new electricity generation plants over 50 megawatts and new hydro plants over 1 megawatt, under Section 36 of the Electricity Act, lies with the Scottish Ministers. Decisions are reached, based on an assessment of the project against the relevant development plan and input requested by us or Scottish Ministers, from a variety of consultees. Appeals against refused applications are heard by the Scottish Government's Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals.
Submission of application
When submitting an application, applicants should provide the appropriate fee and copies of any supporting information. In particular, it is important to make sure that site boundaries are correctly identified as some forms of renewable energy development can include works outside the main site, for example highway improvements necessary to allow the delivery of large turbine components. These should all be identified.
You can find a checklist of issues that should be covered in an application here.
How long will it take to determine an application?
After receiving a valid planning application, we have eight weeks in which to determine the proposal, unless an extension in time is agreed with the applicant. Applications accompanied by an EIA should be determined within four months.
What about planning conditions and legal agreements?
We have the power to attach conditions to planning permission. This ability allows it to approve development proposals where it would otherwise be necessary to refuse planning permission. However, we will only impose conditions that, in our opinion, are necessary, relevant to planning, relevant to the development being permitted, precise, enforceable and reasonable in all other respects.
You can view a selection of an illustrative list of planning conditions [140Kb] attached to actual renewable energy projects here.
Such agreements can, for example, require developers to:
- address TV reception issues
- provide decommissioning bonds
- undertake off-site roads improvements
- establish community funds
- undertake habitat enhancements