National Planning Framework4 (NPF4) is now the planning yardstick against which all on shore windfarm (as well as other developments) applications will be judged . There are two key aims of NPF4, which carry increased and equal weight in terms of awarding consent. One is proposals which will ameliorate climate change and help acheive the Scottish Governments’ net zero targets, the other is to improve biodiversity. (Scotland is one of the worst countries in Europe for loss of biodiversity)
Major developments (including windfarms) will now have to show not just compensatory areas of habitat improvement for peat and habitats lost directly through development, but also have to show that there will be habitat/biodiversity improvement.
NatureScot have now produced guidance (and a template) which they use to ensure that planning applications will meet new NPF4 requirements.…/advising-peatland-carbon-rich…
In essence, developers will have to provide 1:10 compensation for peat lost. ie 1 hectare of lost peat must have compensatory 10 hectares of ‘improved’ wetland/peat to compensate. (this usually comprises recreating bog by blocking ditches and drainage and removing trees)
Improvement in biodiversity would be expected to show an additional 10% area of protected compensatory habitat to qualify as ‘improvement’.
These aspects of a windfarm development will be worth looking at carefully. Developments which are shoehorned into a small land footprint may not have the available land on site to provide compensatory habitat – in which case, the developer will have to earmark and identify in the EIA, a suitable protected (cannot be farmed/developed) area elsewhere. NatureScot is likely to want to see that suitable land agreements, (including restriction of agricultural grazing, forestry planting etc) are in place before they sign off on such mitigation.

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