Publication - FOI/EIR release

Numbers of wind turbines in planning process: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Published:
27 Apr 2020
Numbers of wind turbines in planning process: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000028130
Date received: 17 Apr 2020
Date responded: 27 Apr 2020
Information requested

The number of wind farms/single turbines currently in the planning process in each of our 32 planning authorities, ie those in Scoping, Applications and Consented but not yet built.
 

Response

As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes.  This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below.

Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. In this instance, the Scottish 
Government does not have all the information you have requested. This is because there are two distinct processes for determining applications to erect, construct and operate wind turbines in Scotland.

Applications relating to wind farms which will have a generating capacity in excess of 50 megawatts are determined by the Scottish Ministers, whereas it is planning authorities who determine (ie grant planning permission) applications relating to single turbines and wind farms which will generate less than 50 megawatts. The information I am able to provide you with relates solely to those applications which will be determined by the Scottish Ministers. I have enclosed information regarding proposals which are currently under consideration at scoping (ie pre application) and at the application stage by the Energy Consents Unit. With regards to applications which are currently under consideration by planning authorities, the Scottish Government does not hold information this information.

However, planning authorities do provide the Scottish Government with information on planning applications which they have determined. The latest information we have runs up to Quarter 1 and 2 ofthe 2019-20 reporting period (April to September). We could provide reference numbers for all the applications which have been determined by authorities, however, the applications are only broken down so far as the general type of application which in this instance is Electricity Generation. This category includes applications for wind turbines, wind farms, hydroelectricity, solar and other types of electricity generation. It also may not be possible for you to determine if that planning permission has been commenced or completed. If you would like us to provide information on the applications for electricity generation developments determined by planning authorities, please respond to me outlining the date range you would like this information for.

You may be interested to know that Highland Council has produced an interactive map of renewable energy development which has information on schemes that are "Constructed", "Constructed - Removed" or "Under Construction", "Approved", "In Planning", "Refused" and "Withdrawn”. You can access the map at: https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/198/planning_-_long_term_and_area_policies/152/renewable_energy/4.

The exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about planning applications for wind turbines and farms, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG