We were hoping for a date for the ninth Hearing of our Petition to the Scottish Parliament before Summer recess but unfortunately that is not to be.  There are now so many Petitions that ours is not likely to be heard again until Parliament returns at the beginning of September.

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The Scottish Government listened and consulted on draft guidance for “Effective community engagement in local development planning” between 24 May and 13 September 2023.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 invited 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.  This Consultation is now closed and we await the outcome but feedback from other sources leads us to believe that the threshold will be extended, we just don’t know by how much yet.  Research by SAS team member Stephen Lucking shows that the 69 schemes currently in Scoping has an average capacity of 118MW so the threshold needs to be raised significantly to allow the majority of wind farms to be determined by local planning authorities.  Thanks to all our members who took the time to respond to these consultations.

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!  All the correspondence relating to the Petition can be found on the webpage, including our latest response to the Minister.

 


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