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Time to end the market ban on onshore wind

By Scottish Renewables

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A total of 1.6GW of capacity could be added in Scotland if all 47 onshore wind farms with permission were built. Picture: Alan Hendry
A total of 1.6GW of capacity could be added in Scotland if all 47 onshore wind farms with permission were built. Picture: Alan Hendry

More than 370MW of onshore wind in the Highlands and Islands face losing vital planning permission unless the UK government lifts the political ban on onshore wind’s access to the energy market.

A new study, which we carried out this month, has highlighted that across the country, 47 wind farms which have been approved for planning permission begin to expire from spring 2020.

The UK government effectively barred onshore wind from the energy market with a manifesto pledge in 2015, and these 47 projects have obtained planning permission between then and now.

This new research comes in light of the announcement that the UK’s only wind turbine tower manufacturer, CS Wind, faces cutting three-quarters of its Argyll workforce as a result of poor market conditions – a decision which will have a significant impact on the local community.

The wind farms identified in the study, which stretch from Dumfriesshire to the Outer Hebrides, would generate enough to power the equivalent of 850,000 homes.

Development of these projects could not only increase Scotland’s renewable energy capacity by almost 15 per cent but would bring enormous socio-economic benefits to rural communities up and down the country, including delivering vital jobs for companies like CS Wind.

Other issues affecting development include the speed at which alterations to projects – vital to improve their economics – are held up in Scotland’s planning system, as well as increased fees for planning services, business rates and aviation issues.

Public support for onshore wind is at an all-time high, with 79 per cent of people across the UK, and almost seven in 10 Scots living in rural areas, supporting the use of the technology.

New onshore wind farms are the cheapest form of power generation and displace millions of tonnes of carbon each year, so will play a critical role in reaching our ambitious climate change targets.

It is therefore crucial that the UK government lifts the ban as a matter of urgency to allow the development of this technology, so these projects can deliver economic and social benefits for Scotland.

The 47 onshore wind projects identified in the new research could add almost 1.6GW of renewable energy capacity in Scotland, an opportunity not to be missed as we work towards net-zero emissions by 2045.

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