Schedule 9 of the Electricity Act 1989 places on the developer a duty to "have regard to the desirability of preserving the natural beauty of the countryside, of conserving flora, fauna and geological and physiological features of special interest and of protecting sites, buildings and objects of architectural, historic or archaeological interest".
In addition, the developer is required to give consideration to Scottish Planning Policy on Renewable Energy, other relevant Policy and National Policy Planning Guidance, Planning Advice Notes, the relevant planning authority's Development Plans and any relevant supplementary guidance.
Environmental Impact Assessments
The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 specify that the construction of nuclear generating stations of any capacity, thermal generating stations with a heat output in excess of 300 megawatts and overhead electrical power lines with a voltage of 220 kilovolts or more and a length of more than 15 kilometres will require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). For developments falling outwith these categories, the need for an EIA is less prescriptive. For overhead line applications that don't require an EIA report, see our guidance on overhead line applications without an EIA report.
A prime consideration in developing a proposal is whether it is likely to have significant adverse impacts on the environment. If significant adverse impacts are likely, a full EIA will be needed to support a formal application for consent.
The developer may decide at the outset that an EIA will be required but will have the option of asking for the Scottish Ministers' opinion as to whether an EIA will be required in support of their proposal. The Ministers' formal opinion on the need for an EIA is termed a screening opinion. Scottish Ministers may also adopt a screening opinion at their own volition.
The procedure for a screening opinion by Scottish Ministers can be found in Part 2 of the Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.
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