1.1 The Scottish Government is committed to a greener, low carbon Scotland. Ministers have put the challenges and opportunities of tackling climate change at the heart of their ambition. This is a key priority in our Government Economic Strategy . We have used our existing powers under the devolution settlement to work towards this vision, working with stakeholders to support them in the sustainable management of natural resources, and supporting renewable energy development.
1.2 In June 2013, the Scottish Government published the report Low Carbon Scotland: Meeting our Emissions Reduction Targets 2013-2027 . Energy production has an impact on emissions of greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change. Reducing the carbon impact of energy supply will help ensure that Scotland's economic growth is sustainable.
1.3 Our 2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland, published in June 2011 and its updates published in October 2012 and December 2013, set out our commitment to publish an Agri-renewables Strategy to support the uptake of renewable energy generation by agricultural businesses in Scotland. This Strategy brings together successes to date and progress on actions to realise the renewables potential of the sector whilst protecting Scotland's landscape and residential amenity.
1.4 Recognising the role of agricultural business in realising our commitment to renewable forms of energy generation is also outlined in Getting The Best from Our Land: a Land Use Strategy for Scotland and its Action Plan. It is essential that the agricultural industry play their part to continue to ensure responsible development while maximising engagement with and benefits to local communities. We must maintain the momentum of local ownership particularly through ensuring access to finance and through encouraging new forms of benefit such as investment prospects.
1.5 Farm scale renewable energy generation offers opportunities for Scotland's land managers at a time when farm incomes are under pressure due to escalating input costs and changing weather patterns. Like any other enterprise, farm based renewables carry some risks. Prior planning can help minimise their impact as can giving consideration to collaborative projects and joint ventures.
1.6 Much of the focus from agricultural businesses thus far has been on generating electricity from onshore wind. By comparison, the opportunities that exist from areas such as hydro, solar and biomass remain largely untapped by farmers. The experience and expertise that already exists within the sector can help to provide a platform to increase the uptake of a greater mix of renewable technologies.
1.7 Whilst seeking to maximise the productivity of our renewable resources, it is important that the introduction of renewables installations should be integrally linked to energy efficiency as part of the overall shift towards a low carbon economy. Increasing energy prices have a large impact on the viability of agricultural businesses. Renewable technologies are most effective in terms of cost, carbon emissions reduction and reduced energy bills when combined with energy efficiency measures.
Skills and Advice: Farming For a Better Climate
All farmers want to hand on the farm to future generations in a stronger condition than when they received it. Farming For a Better Climate ( FFBC) is helping Scottish farms thrive in a carbon conscious future by providing practical support to help reduce agriculture's impact on the climate.
FFBC is delivered by Scotland's Rural College ( SRUC) on behalf of the Scottish Government. Our aim is to raise awareness of actions that can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while strengthening farm businesses to make them more resilient to climate change.
Farming For a Better Climate's five Key Action Areas are:
1. Using energy and fuels efficiently;
2. Developing renewable energy;
3. Locking carbon into the soil and vegetation;
4. Optimising the application of fertiliser and manures; and
5. Optimising livestock management and storage of waste.
As part of FFBC, four Climate Change Focus Farms have carried out energy and renewables audits to assess energy savings to current practices plus the most appropriate renewable technology or technologies for their farm; these findings have also formed the basis for meetings with farmer discussion groups.
Along with notes from the Climate Change Focus Farm meetings, information is available to all farmers and land managers on the Farming For a Better Climate website. This includes:
- Practical guides highlight a range of technologies and give an overview of funding support along with suggesting other sources of information;
- Written farmer case studies are used to show what other farmers have done on their farm and some of the costs and benefits for utilising renewable technology; and
- An e-newsletter summarises the findings, plus information is disseminated via the FFBC twitter feed.