David Ross
Highland Correspondent

Investment in green energy projects is being held back by the lack of
clarity over the status of Scotland’s wild land – glens, moors and
mountains – in the planning process.

That is the veiw of rural property consultants representing landowners
trying to develop renewable energy projects such as wind farms.

Alison Campbell of Bidwells was responding to Audit Scotland’s recent
report which raised questions about the feasibility of the Scottish
Government’s targets for green energy and its jobs predictions.

It found ministers’ policy was undermined by the current economic climate,
changes in UK energy policy, private-sector reluctance to invest and EU
regulations.

Ms Campbell, who handles land deals for wind farm and hydro-electricity
schemes, was more optimistic.

She said with a stronger economy and more clarity over electricity market
reform, a mini-investment boom is possible.

But, she said, there were two barriers to this: access to grid connection
and the planning process itself.

“There is a need for clarity around the planning status for wild land …
The lack of clarity is a disincentive to investors, and the Scottish
Government needs to press on with its consultation on the matter and ensure
the lines are clearly drawn.”

Wild land charity the John Muir Trust (JMT) unsuccessfully petitioned the
Scottish Parliament earlier this year for a specific wild land designation
to be created.

Helen McDade, the JMT’s head of policy, said : “The problem is not the
planning process, but developers submitting planning applications when SNH
has made it clear they are unacceptable.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to protecting wild
land in Scotland.”


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