We are hopeful of a date for the ninth Hearing of our Petition to the Scottish Parliament before Summer recess.  As you know, the Petition requested, among other things, that effective community engagement was undertaken for all wind energy development applications.  This was also emphasised in Petitioner’s submission of 11 June 2021

The Scottish Government listened and consulted on draft guidance for “Effective community engagement in local development planning” between 24 May and 13 September 2023. Work is continuing on the final approach to the guidance, anticipated to be published later this year.  Although the Petition was focused on wind energy, this consultation related to all developments.

On 28 February 2024, the Scottish Government published Investing in Planning – a consultation on resourcing Scotland’s planning system which responds to current resourcing challenges in planning.  As requested in our Petition, it invites stakeholder views on whether the current threshold of 50 megawatts (MW) which determines the requirement for consent from the Scottish Ministers for the construction, extension or operation of an electricity generating station, should be changed to allow planning authorities to determine more applications for electricity generating stations, such as on-shore windfarms.  Views are invited on proposals by 31 May 2024, and thereafter responses will be considered further.

PLEASE NOTE:  Research by SAS team member Stephen Lucking shows that the 69 schemes currently in Scoping (covering 2019-2024) has an average capacity of 118MW.

Please take this chance to tell them if you want the 50MW threshold to be changed so that decisions can be made at a local level rather than by Scottish Ministers.   How often have members of the public and Councillors on Planning Committees complained that there is no point in objecting to an application when it is likely to be consented by Scottish Ministers anyway?  You don’t have to answer all the questions in the consultation, just those you feel comfortable with.  Question 28 is the important one on the 50MW threshold so if you are pushed for time, just answering that one question is perfectly acceptable.  If you have time, you will find it helpful to read the consultation paper beforehand as it gives a lot of background.   If you are responding as an individual you can remain anonymous if you wish.  This is our chance to make a real difference to the current planning system but we need your help to do that.  The more responses they receive the better.

You can find the Consultation at https://consult.gov.scot/local-government-and-communities/resourcing-scotlands-planning-system/  The closing date for submissions is 31 May.

Currently we are still working on persuading the Scottish Government to provide a publicly funded Advocate in order to ensure that all individuals and communities wishing to take part in a Public Inquiry will receive professional support to help them participate equally with the appellant’s team of lawyers and expert witnesses. We will let you know the outcome as soon as we have a response from the Minister or through the Petitions’ Committee.  In the meantime, Planning Aid Scotland has agreed to refer any individual or community group seeking assistance to participate in an Inquiry, to the Faculty of Advocates Free Legal Services Unit for us.  However there is no guarantee of acceptance; pro bono advice has limitations and many worthy cases are likely to be filtered out. If anyone is successful, please let us know!



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