Scottish Government urged to increase capacity of onshore wind farms

RenewableUK want Scottish ministers to double onshore wind farm capacity by the end of the decade.

RenewableUK urge Scottish Government to double onshore wind farm capacity by end of decade iStock

Scottish ministers are being urged to set a target of more than double the amount of capacity at onshore wind farms by the end of this decade.

Industry body RenewableUK made the plea as it published the findings of new polling showing Scots “overwhelmingly support” political parties which support renewable power generation.

Scotland can currently produce 8.65 gigawatts (GW) of power from onshore wind.

RenewableUK wants the Scottish Government to set the target of installing a further 12GW of capacity by 2030 – taking total installed capacity to more than 20GW.

As it made the plea, chief executive Dan McGrail said: “Building new onshore wind projects is also one of the cheapest ways to generate new power, so in the long term these projects will also help to reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels, including volatile international gas prices.”

RenewableUK also said action was needed to “unblock the pipeline” of projects that it said were held up in the planning system.

Developments that would be capable of generating 4.8GW are awaiting planning permission, research by RenewableUK found – with projects which could contribute 2GW waiting for three years or more for a decision.

Mr McGrail urged the Scottish Government to act on this “as a matter of urgency”.

His comments came as polling for RenewableUK found just over half (51%) of Scots would be “disappointed” if the onshore wind projects needed to tackle climate change were not constructed.

The research, carried out by Survation, found 74% of voters said they would “think favourably” of a political party which puts in place a strategy for building more renewable energy projects.

Seven out of 10 people (70%) said they voted for a party they expected to build more green power projects in last year’s Holyrood elections, with 60% saying they had backed a party that supports onshore wind projects.

Mr McGrail said: “This polling demonstrates that voters in Scotland overwhelmingly support political parties which are pro-renewables and pro-onshore wind.”

As a result he added: “The Scottish Government has a clear mandate to consent projects in a timely way to tackle climate change.

“We’re urging ministers in Holyrood to unblock the pipeline of much-needed new onshore wind capacity as a matter of urgency, by bringing in new guidelines which underpin the need to act fast against the climate emergency.

“This will build on the legacy of the Cop26 agreement in Glasgow, when the eyes of the world focused on Scotland as a leader in decarbonisation.”

The Scottish Government welcomed the polling, saying this was in line with its own research “showing public backing for wind energy is at a record high across Scotland”.

A spokeswoman said: “Amid a global climate emergency that requires decarbonisation of our economy, the Scottish Government strongly supports the development of renewables while providing appropriate protections for our local communities, landscapes and natural heritage.

“Onshore wind is one of the most cost-effective forms of large-scale electricity generation and met the equivalent of nearly 60% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption in 2020.

“We have recently been consulting on our ambitions for the onshore wind sector, which includes seeing an additional 8-12GW of onshore wind installed by 2030 – potentially more than doubling Scotland’s current onshore wind capacity.

“The most recent Programme for Government signalled our intention to ensure the planning framework actively enables renewable energy. Our draft National Planning Framework 4 sets out our intention to strengthen our support for wind farms, other than in national parks and national scenic areas, as well as recognising the sensitivity of other national or international designations.”

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