Information

Developments in Clashindarroch forest: EIR release

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


Information requested

Information in relation to the operational Clashindarroch Wind Farm and the proposed Clashindarroch II Wind Farm.

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.

We do not hold the information you have requested in relation to the following questions:

Question 1 What plans Vattenfall has to provide DIRECT help to the (only four of them) offgrid properties nearest to the currently existing and to the proposed new wind farms?

Question 2 On the same issue who will be responsible for covering those four offgrid homes’ monthly energy needs (just like it is requirement to do so in Denmark, Germany, Austria regarding those living closest and directly affected by the existence of wind farms, but not using any of that energy as they are offgrid)? Have you planned in what form that help will be – effective solar/wind systems built and maintained for each home/ monthly allowance of red diesel/ monthly money allowance paid directly by Vattenfall or the Government into the residents’ accounts, etc?

Question 8 Why Vattenfall are allowed to give so little locally when their profits soar? Just recently they gave the joking £500 for restoration of the art centre in Keith. The locals had to raise another £2000 from donations to cover the costs. Why Vattenfall didn’t pay it all? Why they were not asked to invest £500,000 and build a new Community Centre?

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.

This exception 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 the information you have requested clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

However, you may wish to contact Alison Daugherty of Vattenfall Wind Power Ltd
www.vattenfall.co.uk/clashindarrochII/ who may be able to help you.

The answers to your other questions are as follows:

Question 3 What about the lack of local job opportunities, except short term? Can’t the Government demand more long-term job creation being made by Vattenfall?

Response The Scottish Government are committed to social and economic benefits of onshore wind being felt by the people of Scotland, as part of our just transition to a net zero economy. The Office of National Statistics collates data on the Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy (LCREE), and the assessment released in February of this year indicated that LCREE had a UK-wide £41.2 billion of turnover and employed approximately 207,800 FTE directly in 2020. As the sector continues to grow in Scotland these skilled jobs in planning and environmental assessment, construction and in operations and post-construction monitoring will continue to grow.

Question 4 Who evaluates and examines the operation of the current Clashindarroch Wind Farm?

Response Clashindarroch Wind Farm was consented by Aberdeenshire Council on 8 August 2012 under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997. The planning application reference number is M/APP/2009/1380. The decision sets out conditions which the applicant is required to complied with and any concerns with regards to the compliance of conditions should be raised with Aberdeenshire Council Planning Authority.

Question 5 Who decides what percentage of the profits from the operation of the wind farms to stay in the local community? Is it not true that currently most of the profits go abroad?

Response It is up to the developer to decide what percentage from the operation of the wind farms stay in the local community. The Scottish Government does not know how much of the developers profits go abroad. See answer to question 6.

Question 6 Shouldn’t the locals most affected by the wind farms (again we talk about just 4 offgrid homes + 5-6 others closeby) receive monthly/yearly payments directly linked to the profits the Wind Farm makes? All locals that had been asked have agreed they wouldn’t mind the existence of a wind farm so near as long as it means they get something for that in exchange. So ultimately doesn’t it all come down to how much Vattenfall or/and the Scottish Government are willing to give DIRECTLY to those most affected?

Response The Scottish Government’s Good Practice Principles for Community Benefit from Onshore Renewable Energy Developments (published 2019) recommend and encourage provision of community benefit at a national level equivalent to £5,000 per installed MW per annum index linked for the operational lifetime of the development. Support is available through the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) delivered by Local Energy Scotland, to help communities engage with renewable energy businesses to discuss community benefits. Further details including local contacts are available at: https://localenergy.scot/

Question 7 Are you personally Mr. Ashton comfortable with the environmental estimate regarding the impact the digging out of the peat to put the new wind turbines would have? Other reports suggest this being gross underestimate by a company paid to make the numbers look plausible.

Response Applications for large energy infrastructure developments submit an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in line with The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 which includes an assessment on the likely significant effects of the proposed development on peat. The EIA report is taken into account in the determination of the application. Applications are determined by the Scottish Ministers under the Electricity Act 1989.

Question 9 Finally how comfortable are you to overturn local council’s decision? It was done already once with the first Clashindarroch Wind Farm and this proved to be huge mistake considering all the broken promises. Also isn’t it pretty much the same somebody in Edinburgh deciding what happens in the Highlands as to somebody in London deciding what happens to Scotland? Ultimately the local council’s decision should carry most weight and be final.

Response Under the Electricity Act 1989 it is a statutory requirement to consult with the local planning authority. If they object within the required timeframe, a public inquiry shall take place. The Scottish Ministers take into account the views of all the statutory consultees, representations, public inquiry report if it has taken place, EIA report and all other material considerations when making their decision.

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

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