Memorandum from The Scottish Executive
The Scottish Executive welcomes the inquiry
by the Environmental Audit Committee into sustainable energy,
and the opportunity to submit this memorandum to the Committee.
The Executive is committed to sustainable development
across all of its activities. It is also committed to tackling
climate change and published the Scottish Climate Change Programme
alongside the UK one in November 2000. Energy efficiency and the
promotion of renewable energy are central to this Programme. While
the Executive recognises that renewable energy is very important,
particularly in Scotland, in the short- to medium-term, it regards
better energy efficiency as the least cost option for reducing
energy-related CO2 emissions. The Scottish Executive,
and The Scottish Office before it, has actively supported energy
efficiency since 1984 through its Scottish Energy Efficiency Office,
from 1992 through its sponsorship of the Energy Saving Trust and
since last year through its sponsorship of the Carbon Trust in
Scotland. So it actively seeks to promote better energy efficiency
across all sectors of the economy, and welcomes the priority given
in the PIU recommendations to a programme to produce a step change
in the nation's energy efficiency. The Executive responded to
this recommendation by increasing the funding available to the
Energy Saving Trust in Scotland for 2002-03. It regards promoting
better energy efficiency as a significant endeavour, which will
be just as challenging and important as increasing the use of
renewable energy in Scotland; more on this is given in answer
to question 3.
The other central plank of the Executive's policy
is to provide strong support for the development of more renewable
energy, in order to ensure that Scotland:
contributes fully towards meeting
the UK's commitment to reducing greenhouse gases;
makes effective use of its very significant
potential for exploiting renewable energy, building on the foundation
of the existing hydro schemes;
develops the technical expertise
that will be required to deploy new renewable energy technologies
in future; and
gains the benefit to rural communities
which renewable energy can contribute.
For these reasons, the Executive and the Scottish
Office before it has long supported renewable energy, first under
the Scottish Renewables Obligation from 1994, and now under the
Renewables Obligation (Scotland) or ROS, which will operate alongside
the Renewables Obligation (RO) in England and Wales. The ROS has
the objective of increasing the proportion of electricity supply
in Scotland accounted for by renewable energy to 18 per cent by
2010. The Executive is now considering a higher renewable energy
objective, possibly of the order of 30 per cent by 2020.
The Committee has asked the following questions,
which are shown underlined with the Executive's answers underneath.
1. To what extent have you developed
a sustainable energy strategy for the devolved administration?
Are you planning to do so?
The two devolved issues of energy efficiency
and renewable energy lie at the heart of the Scottish Climate
Change Programme, and in effect form a sustainable energy strategy
for Scotland. These devolved energy powers, integrated within
the Executive's Energy Division, interact closely with each other
and with devolved areas such as environmental policy, sustainable
development, planning, fuel poverty and building standards. In
addition, the Executive will be considering what its response
should be to the PIU recommendations about the role of a Sustainable
Energy Policy Unit.
2. In the light of the Parliamentary
debate on 5 March 2002, please clarify specifically the position
on Section 36 consents, and more generally the extent to which
the Scottish Executive considers that it can pursue an independent
Powers to issue Section 36 consents have been
devolved to Scottish Ministers by means of an Executive Devolution
Order (The Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish
Ministers etc) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999 No 1750)). This means
that Scottish Ministers have the power to decide to give or withhold
consent for any proposed power station with a capacity in excess
of 50 megawatts, or in excess of 1 MW in respect of hydro. In
exercising these powers Scottish Ministers would require to take
account of the fact that energy policy is a reserved matter.
3. Energy policy in Great Britain is
reserved to the DTI, but a number of areas relating to it are
devolved to Scotland and Wales. These include the promotion of
renewable energy; the promotion of energy efficiency; and support
for innovation. Please can you set out your understanding of your
powers and responsibilities in these areas.
The powers and responsibilities are as follows:
Promotion of Renewable Energy
Specifically this relates to executively devolved
powers under Section 32 of the Electricity Act 1989 (and as amended
by the Utilities Act 2000) to make regulations to impose obligations
on electricity suppliers in respect of renewable energy. These
powers have resulted in the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) 2002
(ROS), which is analogous to the Renewables Obligation, and the
earlier Scottish Renewable Obligation (SRO).
More generally the Energy Annex to the Concordat
between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Scottish
Executive outlines the Executive's powers to promote renewable
energy in Scotland. An example of how these are used is the Scottish
Clean Energy Demonstration Scheme (SCEDS). This scheme offers
financial support in the way of grant to smaller scale schemes
that rely on innovatory renewables and energy efficiency technologies.
We are now working on proposals to expand the scope of SCEDS so
that it will provide support for community based energy schemes,
for instance, in remote and fragile communities.
The devolved powers do not extend to supporting
Research and Development in renewable energy; DTI hold the budget
for this. But the Executive does have a budget for renewable energy
which has been used eg to fund SCEDS (see above).
Promotion of Energy Efficiency
The promotion of energy efficiency other than
by prohibition or regulation is devolved under the Scotland Act
Improvements in business energy efficiency in
Scotland have been driven by commercial pressures but have also
been stimulated by advice and assistance over many years from
the Scottish Energy Efficiency Office (SEEO). The SEEO works on
a number of fronts, including waste minimisation, but its main
focus is on energy efficiency, using the resources of UK Government's
Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme which the SEEO funds
in Scotland. This offers impartial information and free advice
on energy efficient technologies and energy management to a wide
range of companies and organisations. The work of the SEEO has
been strengthened through recent increases in funding from within
the Executive's own resources and from a Scottish share of Climate
Change Levy revenue (£3.2 million a year on average over
the next three years). The SEEO also currently funds the activities
of the carbon Trust in Scotland from its share of the CCL revenues.
In October 1999 the SEEO launched an interest
free loan scheme for energy efficiency measures in SMEs in Scotland.
The scheme, which was based on a similar scheme operating in Northern
Ireland some years ago has been adopted by the Carbon Trust, which
will operate a parallel scheme in England and Wales.
SME's form around 98 per cent of Scotland's
businesses and consume around 40 per cent of its business energy.
In order to ensure that the sector benefits from the recycling
mechanisms set up by the Climate Change Levy and makes its contribution
to combatting climate change, SEEO this year also established
a network of SME project officers in six of Scotland's eight Energy
Efficiency Advice Centres. The six project officers have a remit
to assist SEEO to deliver the services of the Best Practice Programme
to SMEs in Scotland, including free training and site audits,
aimed at helping organisations to reduce both business costs and
emissions. This scheme has also been replicated on a UK wide basis
by the Carbon Trust in conjunction with the Energy Saving Trust.
In June 2001, SEEO launched the Scottish Clean
Energy Demonstration Scheme (SCEDS) to encourage the development,
demonstration, application and replication of energy efficiency
measures and specific renewable energy technologies. SCEDS offers
up to 45 per cent grant aid on eligible projects, depending on
the status of the applicant and the merits of the proposal. Applications
for 20 projects have been received so far. The scheme provides
funding for innovative small-scale projects developing several
clean technologies, including; wind turbines, hydro, photovaltaic
cells, and biomass.
The Scottish Executive has also taken a number
of steps in respect of the promotion of domestic energy efficiency.
For example, our Warm Deal programme, established in 1999, provides
households dependent on certain benefits with a package of insulation
measures to the value of up to £5,000. In the two years from
1999, 96,300 homes were insulated under this programme. Our Central
Heating programme, introduced in 2000, provides a central heating
and insulation package for all local authority and housing association
tenants and in 40,000 pensioner homes in the private sector. By
2004, most local authority and housing association properties
in Scotland will have central heating.
Currently, the Scottish Executive has no target
relating to domestic energy efficiency. As part of our current
consultation on our Scottish Fuel Poverty statement, we are seeking
views on whether it would be possible or desirable to develop
such a target. This might relate to a target improvement in average
National Home Energy Ratings (NHER) across Scotland, or it might
have a particular focus on improving NHER ratings at the lower
end of the scale. This consultation exercise ends on 31st May
4. What are your overall powers in relation
to the setting of targets for renewables?
The Scottish renewable energy objective of 18
per cent by 2010 was set by Scottish Ministers under their executively
devolved powers to promote renewable energy in Scotland.
5. In the case of the Scottish target
for 18 per cent renewable energy, was this set as a result of
negotiation with the DTI? To what extent did it have to be set
at this level to achieve the overall UK target of 10 per cent?
How does the 18 per cent target relate to the ROS target?
The overall objective of 18 per cent was set
in consultation with DTI. It represented, however, the same increase
on the level of renewables expected by 2003 as for England and
Wales. In other words the percentage annual targets contained
within the RO and the ROS are the same. The higher overall objective
for Scotland results from the higher foundation level of existing
renewables generation, which is around 12 per cent (nearly all
from established hydro-electricity but around 1 per cent from
renewables projects supported under the Scottish Renewables Obligation
(SRO) since 1994).
Since Scotland's electricity consumption accounts
for only around 10 per cent of the UK total, even quite significant
changes in the level of the ROS target would have only a marginal
effect on whether the UK target would be achieved. Much more important
is that there is single GB market for Renewables Obligation Certificates
(ROCs) issued under the RO and the ROS. Scotland's plentiful renewable
resource could mean that it will contribute substantially more
than its pro rata share to UK renewables generation.
6. Given the fact that different areas
of the UK have different potentials for delivering renewable energy,
what process is in place for determining the share of any UK or
GB targets which Scotland or Wales should bear? Do you think that
present arrangements in this area are adequate? In what ways should
they be improved?
The policy of the Executive is that Scotland
should play its full part in enabling the UK to meet its international
climate change targets for greenhouse gas reductions, through
development of renewable energy. The arrangements for setting
of targets would reflect this and the actual targets set would
reflect the outcome of the consultation exercises that would precede
any new obligation being established.
Progress in increasing the uptake of renewable
7. Please set out the overall current
position of Scotland with regard to renewable energy generation,
together with data on the extent of implementation of SRO schemes
(by Order and type of energy source).
Established hydro contributes up to 11 per cent
of electricity supplied in Scotland. The position for SRO generation
(contributing another 1 per cent or so) is as follows:
SRO Status Summary as at 30 September
8. What do you consider to be the main barriers at
present to increasing the uptake of renewable energy generation?
The main barriers fall into two categories: costs and environmental/other
constraints. In some cases these are difficult to separate completely.
Costs encompass the cost of connection and the wider costs
of strengthening the electricity network in Scotland, including
interconnection to the rest of Great Britain within the NGC network.
This requirement to strengthen the grid is often viewed as
a technical constraint. There is no clear evidence as yet that
the weakness of the grid in Scotland is acting as a constraint
on development. We are currently handling four applications for
consent for large wind farms and we are aware of a further 12
projects under serious consideration by developers. We expect
most of these to move towards the formal application stage by
the end of 2002. If all of these projects were to be commissioned,
the resultant output would more than meet the Scottish target
for 2010-11. It is also clear from discussions with the industry
that developers are working on the next raft of developments.
This level of activity would suggest that developers are operating
within the capacity of the grid. This seems to confirm the initial
view of the Network Study undertaken by the Scottish Executive
that the existing network has the capacity to accommodate the
capacity required for Scotland to meet its targets, provided that
capacity were evenly spread.
On the wider front work is being done to address the connection
charging code, particularly as it operates in the SSE area in
the north of Scotland. In addition a high level Working Group
led by DTI and Ofgem is working on proposals to amend the pricing
and management issues that are seen as a deterrent to distributed
Environmental and other issues
These are wide-ranging, covering issues such as the natural
heritage, the effects on local communities and in particular in
connection with wind farm developments, air safety, including
air traffic control and weather radar, low flying by the RAF,
Much has been done to set in place a positive planning policy
framework for renewable energy developments. In November 2000,
the National Planning Policy Guideline on Renewable Energy (NPPG
6), which was originally issued in 1994, was revised and reissued.
In January 2002, the Planning Advice Note on Renewable Energy
Technologies (PAN 45), also issued originally in 1994, was revised
and reissued. Both revisions were undertaken in the light of Scottish
Ministers wish to see the planning system play its full part by
making positive provision for such developments against their
commitment to renewable energy and its contribution to the climate
change programme and in anticipation of an increase in demand
for renewable energy arising from the new Renewables Obligations.
There is a tension between natural heritage matters and renewables
developments, particularly wind farms and hydro electricity projects.
These tensions are by their nature not easily resolved. Scotland's
natural heritage is important nationally and internationally and
in some cases relatively fragile. In addition landscape issues
feature powerfully in the consideration of wind farm proposals.
This has to be balanced against the potential impact of climate
change on the ecology.
Low Flying etc
All parts of Scotland, other than the Glasgow, Edinburgh
and Aberdeen areas, are considered Low Flying Areas (LFAs) for
military aircraft which are required to maintain a minimum separation
distance (msd) of 250ft between themselves and the ground or any
structure. In addition, much of Southern Scotland and the North-west
Highlands are Low Flying Tactical Training Areas (TTAs) where
flying at heights between 250-100ft is permitted by fast jet and
Hercules aircraft. Developments in wind turbine technology now
mean that larger turbines are commonly over 300ft from ground
to blade tip. The MOD has reserved the right to object to proposed
wind farm development both within the TTAs and elsewhere when
it considers that the development would represent a threat to
aircraft, aircrew and public safety and to radar and other communications.
Civil ATC radar considerations are also a potential constraint
in the areas surrounding Scotland's larger airports.
Longer Term Issues
There are some longer-term issues that could affect the development
of renewables in Scotland. Many developers in the renewables sector
argue that the introduction of NETA (New Electricity Trading Arrangements)
acts as a disincentive to renewables since it provides price rewards
for electricity generation that is predictable and penalises intermittancy
and unpredictability. NETA does not apply in Scotland, but proposals
for a GB-wide electricity market, probably based on NETA are being
developed. The industry regulator has also been working on proposals
to introduce zonal pricing into the electricity industry. This
would operate on the principle that generation close to the point
of consumption should be rewarded whereas that remote from consumption
should be penalised. Such a development would not be an encouragement
to renewables generation in Scotland.
9. Please clarify the nature of the current limitations
imposed by the Anglo-Scottish interconnector. What impact does
this have on energy policy, and in particular on new renewables
projects, in both Scotland and the UK as a whole?
Use of the Anglo-Scottish interconnector is at present constrained
by the limits of the North Yorkshire line within the NGC network.
At present the interconnector does not impose a constraint on
renewable energy development. The issue of constraints imposed
by lack of interconnection is being addressed by the DTI, Ofgem
and the GB network operators.
10. To what extent do you see planning issues as limiting
the potential growth of renewable energy? Have you considered
ways of altering planning procedures in order to speed up consents
and promote a better uptake?
See 8 above.
11. In what circumstances are planning applications
called in even when approved at a local authority level? How are
such cases dealt with and what administrative targets (if any)
have been put in place? Please provide relevant data on planning
applications (number, length of time, outcome, whether called
in) for renewable energy projects.
There are long standing arrangements requiring planning authorities
to notify The Scottish Executive of certain types of proposals
which they are minded to approve. The current provision is contained
in the Town & Country Planning (Notification of Applications)
(Scotland) Direction 1997, issued as an annex to SODD Circular
4/1997 on 1 April 1997 and The Town & Country Planning (Notification
of Applications) (National Scenic Areas) (Scotland) Direction
1987 (see SDD Circular 9/1987).
Planning policy is set out in National Planning Policy Guidelines
(NPPGs). When NPPG 6: Renewable Energy Development was originally
issued in August 1994, developments of one wind turbine or more
were made notifiable. An amendment to the Notification Direction
(SODD Circular 43/1997 dated 30 December 1997) changed the criteria
to "developments consisting of 10 or more wind generators".
With the publication of the revised version of NPPG 6, the covering
letter (dated 30 November 2000) removed the specific requirement
covering wind turbines. However there are circumstances within
the Notification Direction where wind turbine proposals, like
any other type of development, are still notifiable.
Notified cases since 1994
Since 23 September 1994, 18 cases have been notified. Sixteen
of these relate to the specific requirement to notify wind turbine
developments, although several were also notifiable under other
criteria. Of these 18 cases, 10 were not called-in and the cases
were returned to the local authority for their decision. Seven
were called-in for determination by the Secretary of State / Scottish
Ministers and a decision as to whether or not to call-in one has
yet to be taken. Of the seven called-in cases, one was approved,
five refused and on one a decision is pending. Since the specific
notification requirement for wind turbines was removed, two cases
have been notified, both on the basis of other criteria within
the Notification Directions (these are the undetermined cases
referred to above). One involves a wind farm development that
was subject to objection from Historic Scotland because of the
likely impact on archaeological / historic importance of the adjacent
area (the need for call-in is still under consideration). The
other was a mixed development that included a single wind turbine.
This case was called-in and is currently with the Scottish Executive
Inquiry Reporters Unit (SEIRU).
The 16 cases that have gone through the total process represented
332 turbines within the range one to 40. 240 turbines (72 per
cent) were not called in. Of the 92 turbines that were called-in,
20 were approved and 72 (22 per cent of the total notified) refused.
In total, 260 turbines (78 per cent) were cleared.
Time taken to determine notified cases
This is a two stage process. The first stage involves a decision
by Scottish Ministers as to whether the case should be called-in
for their determination and covers the period from notification
to the decision on call-in. If the case is not called-in the proposal
is referred back to the planning authority for determination and
Scottish Executive involvement ends. Of the 17 cases that have
gone through this first stage, the time taken varies from about
two weeks to about 35 weeks. The average is 13 weeks for all cases,
20 weeks for cases that were called-in and 9 weeks for cases that
were not called-in. The Departmental target for this 1st stage
80 per cent of cases notified to the Scottish
Ministers for a decision on whether to call-in to be decided within
28 working days and the remainder within two months.
The second stage involves cases that are called-in. This
stage involves referring the case to SEIRU. It usually involves
a Public Local Inquiry (PLI), the preparation of a report and
recommendation by a SEIRU Reporter, consideration of this with
SE Planning and a submission to the Scottish Ministers with a
recommended course of action and the issuing of the Ministers
decision. The length of the PLI can vary from one day to two weeks.
An exception to this involved a conjoined PLI of two notified
cases and a re-called appeal which took 30 days. Of the six cases
that have gone through this 2nd stage process, the time taken
varies between 62 weeks and 168 weeks. Added to the 1st stage,
the total time taken to determine these called-in cases has ranged
from 93 weeks to 183 weeks.
There are two targets within the second stage:
SEIRU will deliver inquiry reports to client divisions
normally within a period of four times the length of the inquiry,
starting at the conclusion of the inquiry, or within six months,
whichever is the shorter.
For called-in applications a decision should be
issued within two months of receipt of report from SEIRU in 80
per cent of cases, and the remainder within three months.
Changes in "time taken"
This pattern of ``time taken'' has changed significantly
over the period 1994 to 2002. Up to the end of 1996, six cases
were called-in and four were not. The average time taken to determine
whether to call-in or not all 10 cases (1st stage) was 19 weeks,
within the range 13 weeks to 35 weeks. The average time taken
to call-in (six cases) was 22 weekswithin the range 15
weeks and 35 weeks. For cases cleared back to planning authorities
(four cases) the average time taken was 15 weekswithin
the range 13 weeks to 17 weeks.
Six cases were called-in in the period to end of 1996. One
was approved and five were refused. The one case that was approved
took a further 62 weeks from call-in to determination (93 weeks
in total). The five cases that were called-in (and eventually
refused) took, on average, a further 134 weeks to determine, within
the range 83 weeks to 168 weeks. The average total time taken
for these five cases was 155 weeks within the range 120 weeks
and 183 weeks. A number of these cases raised particular difficulties.
One case involved a MoD low flying tactical training area. Two
raised issues related to protected bird species and in one of
these the PLI had to be re-opened to consider further scientific
evidence on "bird strike risk". A further two cases
were in close proximity and were conjoined together with a neighbouring
Up to 1997 called-in cases were dealt with under Inquiry
Rules Procedures dating back to 1980. In May 1997, the Town and
Country Planning (Inquiry Procedure) (Scotland) Rules 1997 were
introduced to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of inquiries
without affecting the essential need for openness, fairness and
impartiality. Since the new rules were introduced, there have
been no wind turbine developments that have gone through this
part of the process.
Since 1997, the time taken to reach decisions has reduced
considerably. Only one case has been called-in (this was an application
for a mixed development of which a single turbine was a minor
part). The decision to call-in was taken in csix weeks. The other
six cases were referred back to the planning authority for decision.
The average time taken during this period was cfive weeks ranging
from two weeks to eight weeks. A number of possible reasons could
Explicit Scottish Executive policy support for
renewable energy developments.
SE Planning is now more familiar with the issues
involved in wind farm developments.
There is wider acceptance of wind farm developments
in the Scottish countryside.
Wind farm developers are coming forward with less
It remains to be seen how the changes to the Inquiry Rules
Procedures will effect any future cases that are called-in
12. In what way does the MoD interact with the planning
system to voice any concerns it has? What impact has the MoD had
on planning applications for renewable energy projects?
The position regarding planning authority consultations with
MoD is confusing. It is clear that statutory consultations are
required in connection with aerodromes and technical sites. Consequently
such cases where the planning authority is minded to approve a
proposal against MoD objections must be notified to the Scottish
Executive. There are no similar provisions for LFAs and TTAs.
We are aware of two current cases where MoD has objected to the
proposed development on the grounds of potential safety implications
for low flying training activities. There is in addition one older
case. There is no hard evidence beyond this that MoD is raising
objections to wind turbine developments, but the industry is of
the view that this is a major deterrent to development. Discussions
have taken place with the MoD at a number of levels on these issues.