The Bottom Line : Local Scenes : Why we are doing thisASWAG logo


Map copyright the Scottish Wind Assesment Project

The Scottish Executive

As part of the initiative to reduce greenhouse gases, the Scottish Executive has set a target for 40% of Scotland's energy requirements to come from renewable sources by 2020. It is made clear in the Scottish Executive statement “Securing a Renewable Future: Scotland's Renewable Energy” of March 2003 that this target should be achieved by a diverse mix of technologies, and that there should be an emphasis on utilising marine sources.

However this target, combined with the clear financial incentive provided by the Renewables Obligation (Scotland), has resulted in very large numbers of onshore wind farm developments being proposed. So many that, despite the Scottish Executive's clear expectation (see above) that the 2020 target should be met by ‘a diverse mix of technologies' , there are currently 363 on shore wind projects in the planning or pre-planning stages, which would generate around 8000MW of electricity ( Sunday Herald 18th Jan 2004 ). When compared to Scotland's peak winter demand of less than 6000MW, it is clear that the current large number of applications and proposals is out of all proportion to the targets set.

The 2020 target of 40% equates to around 3500mw of capacity. Currently, according to the Scottish Executive's Renewables Database (, there is 207MW produced by onshore wind farms already in operation, with another 552MW of capacity, which has received consent. If you include the 180MW from the offshore wind farm at Robin Rigg in the Solway Firth, there is nearly 1000MW of consented renewable capacity already. These figures make it clear that by 2004 great strides have been made toward the 2020 targets by wind farms. It is evident therefore, that not every proposal for a wind farm is vital to the satisfaction of the 40% target, and consequently it is important that wind farm developments are not allowed to ride roughshod over other priorities, of equal or greater importance.

DTI for Scotland's generation for 2002

Total electricity generated in Scotland in 2002 – 49,606 GWh

Installed Capacity (MW) Annual output in GWh (assuming 30% capacity factor for onshore wind, 35% capacity factor for hydro and 40% capacity factor for offshore wind) Percentage of 2002 generation
Existing Hydro 1618 4960 9.99%
Existing wind 182 478 0.96%
Consented onshore wind 728 1913 3.85%
Consented off shore wind 216 756 1.52%
Total 16.32%
Applications (52) * submitted for onshore wind farms as at 31/03/04 2807 7376
Pre applications notified for onshore wind farms 4390
(note some applications do not specify installed capacity)
11536 23.25%
Total 54.43%
These figures are from Scottish Executive Renewables Database and Section 36 applications info section, and are correct as at end June 2004.
(see also: )

* Of this 19 are section 36 applications, which would produce 11.74% of Scotland’s electricity.

The Planning Framework

The Scottish Executive's planning framework for renewable energy developments is provided by National Planning Policy Guideline 6: Renewable Energy (NPPG 6), with further relevant detail in Planning and Advice Note 45 (PAN 45). The aim of these policies is that the land use planning system should play its full part in the process. NPPG 6 requires Local Authorities to ensure that the planning guidance they produce should “facilitate and guide renewable energy developments, while at the same time ensure that existing environmental assets (in the form of designated areas, species and habitats) are protected from inappropriate forms of development and minimising the effects on local communities.”

With the aim of not only guiding SNH staff, but also of assisting planning authorities when preparing development plans, Scottish Natural Heritage has compiled Strategic Locational Guidance for Onshore Wind Farms in Respect of the Natural Heritage (2002). The advice brings together landscape, recreation, biodiversity and earth science sensitivities to provide an overview of natural heritage sensitivity to wind farms. The land with the greatest opportunity for wind farm development in natural heritage terms is identified as Zone 1, with Zones 2 and 3 indicating where natural heritage sensitivities would impose a medium or high level of constraint.



About our area

News & Events

Proposed Wind Farms

What you can do

Facts & Figures I

Links to Documents

Links to Related Sites


Contact Us