Where applications are made to Scottish Ministers for power stations, and those for significant power lines , the purpose of the energy consents decision making process is to allow a balance to be drawn between the interests of developers, energy and planning policy, community interests and environmental considerations, Applications to be decided by Scottish Ministers must be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment report, which describes the effects the development is likely to have on the environment. The application, and the Environmental Impact Assessment report, are available locally for public inspection. The planning authority and public bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency are invited to comment on the application. Their views, as well as other representations made to Ministers, are considered during the decision making process.
In circumstances where important issues are raised Ministers can decide to hold a Public Local Inquiry before decisions are taken. Ministerial approval of a project includes deemed planning permission and will authorise the developer to construct and begin operating the development within 5 years of the date of decision, subject to relevant conditions relating to environmental and other impacts.
The Scottish Government's Scottish Planning Policy document sets out the policies which are applied to the authorisation of on-shore renewable electricity generation schemes under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. It also sets out national planning policies for renewable energy developments that planning authorities should consider when preparing development plans and when determining planning applications. It identifies the issues that Scottish Ministers will take into account when considering renewable energy policies in development plans, and when considering applications for planning permission which come before them on appeal or call-in.
The following pages set out in more detail how the application process for energy consents works and how interested parties can find out more.