National Planning Framework 3

The third National Planning Framework, setting out a long-term vision for development and investment across Scotland over the next 20 to 30 years.

3. A low carbon place

A low carbon place.

Our ambition is to achieve at least an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Scotland today

3.1 Planning will play a key role in delivering on the commitments set out in Low Carbon Scotland: the Scottish Government's report on proposals and policies ( RPP2). The priorities identified in this spatial strategy set a clear direction of travel which is consistent with our world-leading climate change legislation.

3.2 At present, the energy sector accounts for a significant share of our greenhouse gas emissions. To address this, we need to employ our skills and innovation to help capitalise on our outstanding natural advantages.

3.3 Scotland is estimated to account for nearly 60% of total EU oil and gas reserves. This forms our largest industrial sector, contributing an estimated £22 billion to Scotland's GDP in 2012. The industry employs around 200,000 people across Scotland by supporting the wider economy.

3.4 We have long relied on hydropower for a source of clean energy. It is estimated that untapped potential could sustain the electricity needs of around a quarter of our homes. We have a significant wind resource, both onshore and offshore, and electricity generation from wind continues to rise. Scotland also has 25% of Europe's tidal resource and 10% of its wave potential. We are pioneering marine renewable energy technologies - there are more marine energy devices commissioned, partly commissioned, under construction or permitted in Scotland than in any other country in the world.

3.5 Heating and cooling constitutes around half of our total demand for energy, and our renewable heat infrastructure is growing. The distribution of new and planned district heating schemes is broadening from small-scale, rural installations towards larger projects across our towns and cities. Both will be required if we are to meet our target for renewable heat.

© John Gilbert Architects. © Tony Gorzkowski/White House Studios.

3.6 Industry estimates are that renewable energy currently supports around 11,000 jobs in Scotland and we expect employment in this sector to grow significantly over the coming years.

3.7 A planned approach to development has ensured that onshore wind energy development largely avoids our internationally and nationally protected areas. Whilst there is strong public support for wind energy as part of the renewable energy mix, opinions about onshore wind in particular locations can vary. In some areas, concern is expressed about the scale, proximity and impacts of proposed wind energy developments. In others, it is recognised as an opportunity to improve the long-term resilience of rural communities. We are seeing more communities benefiting from local ownership of renewables, with at least 285 MW of community and locally-owned schemes installed by 2013.

Scotland tomorrow

3.8 By 2020, we aim to reduce total final energy demand by 12%. To achieve this, and maintain secure energy supplies, improved energy efficiency and further diversification of supplies will be required. We want to meet at least 30% of overall energy demand from renewables by 2020 - this includes generating the equivalent of at least 100% of gross electricity consumption from renewables, with an interim target of 50% by 2015. Heat accounts for a significant share of our energy consumption, and by 2020 we are aiming to source 11% of heat demand and 10% of transport fuels from renewable sources.

3.9 Our Electricity and forthcoming Heat Generation Policy Statements set out how our energy targets will be met. We are making good progress in diversifying Scotland's energy generation capacity, and lowering the carbon emissions associated with it, but more action is needed. Maintaining security of supplies and addressing fuel poverty remain key objectives. We want to continue to capitalise on our wind resource, and for Scotland to be a world leader in offshore renewable energy. In time, we expect the pace of onshore wind energy development to be overtaken by a growing focus on our significant marine energy opportunities, including wind, wave and tidal energy.

© Graham Marchbank. © Lorne Gill/SNH.

3.10 The Electricity Generation Policy Statement sets out a continued and important role for thermal generation in Scotland's future energy mix. There will be a requirement for new or upgraded efficient fossil fuel thermal generation capacity, progressively fitted with carbon capture and storage ( CCS).

3.11 Some of our coal and nuclear power stations are nearing the end of their current life. In Scotland, we need a minimum of 2.5 GW of thermal generation with CCS to meet our requirements and support diversification of supplies. There will be no nuclear new build in Scotland, although we have not ruled out extending the operating life of Scotland's existing nuclear power stations at Hunterston B and Torness. Subject to strict safety considerations, this could help to maintain security of supply over the next decade while the transition to renewables and cleaner thermal generation takes place. Proposals are also now coming forward for world-leading projects for energy generation that implement CCS technology and use our natural capacity to store carbon in the geological formations of the oil and gas fields of the North Sea.

3.12 Both terrestrial and marine planning have a key role to play in reaching these ambitious targets by facilitating development, linking generation with consumers and guiding new infrastructure to appropriate locations. We are clear that development must work with and sustain our environmental assets, and should provide opportunities for communities.

3.13 The low carbon energy sector is fast moving and will continue to be shaped by technological innovation and a changing environment. As a result, our strategy must remain sufficiently flexible to adapt to uncertainty and change so we are well placed to make the most of the new opportunities that will undoubtedly emerge.

3.14 Our natural energy resources will result in unprecedented opportunities for associated development, investment and growth in the coming years. Ports and harbours identified in the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan will invest in their facilities to accommodate manufacturing, servicing and maintenance of our renewable energy infrastructure. We expect planning to enable development in all of these locations.

3.15 In line with our commitment to reducing social and spatial inequalities in Scotland, the transition to a low carbon economy will provide opportunities for communities across the country. As a key part of this, we are aiming to achieve at least 500 MW of renewable energy in community and local ownership by 2020 and are working to secure greater benefits from commercial-scale developments.

Spatial priorities for change

Cities will be exemplars of low carbon living and a focus for essential energy infrastructure

3.16 Much of our energy infrastructure, and the majority of Scotland's energy consumers, are located in and around the cities network. The cities network will also be a focus for improving the energy efficiency of the built environment. A key challenge, but also a significant opportunity for reducing emissions, lies in retrofitting efficiency measures for the existing building stock.

3.17 We are seeing an increasing number of district heating networks across the country. We can make much better use of the heat sources we have, including unused and renewable heat, and have prepared a Scotland heat map to help this to happen. We believe that there are significant opportunities for the cities in particular to use renewable and low carbon heat energy. New development should be future-proofed to ensure that connections to existing or planned heat networks are taken forward as soon as they are viable.

3.18 CCS provides a major opportunity to reduce emissions from the energy sector, and to establish Scotland as a world leader in this new technology. This has implications for both land use and marine planning. Where feasible, replacement and new large-scale electricity generation, fuelled by gas or coal but designed to operate with CCS technology, will be located at existing generating sites or in areas of industrial activity close to where the majority of the population live. These sites may also provide opportunities to make residual or unused heat available to a heat network servicing homes and businesses.

3.19 The conversion of Peterhead gas-fired power station can pioneer CCS technology and make best use of existing infrastructure, including existing pipelines, and help to establish the area as a hub for CO2 transport and storage. A further coal-fired power station with CCS is proposed at Grangemouth. There is consent for a new Combined Cycle Gas Turbine Power Station at Cockenzie, and Longannet will require alterations as requirements for CCS increase. To make best use of existing infrastructure, we have identified proposals for new and replacement facilities at all four sites as a national development.

3.20 In the long-term, we expect that a CCS network may emerge around the Forth, where there is a particular cluster of industrial activities and energy generation and the potential to link to existing pipeline infrastructure. By building expertise, and ultimately connecting this network beyond our national boundaries, there will be scope for the CCS sector to generate significant employment and business opportunities for Scotland.

3.21 Several of the sites in the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan are located within or close to urban areas. Cities have also been a focus for investment and business development in the energy sector, with head offices focused particularly in Glasgow and Aberdeen, and the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh. The importance of retaining the economic benefits from investment in the energy sector in Scotland is driving other initiatives within city regions, including the Fife Energy Corridor and Aberdeenshire's Energetica project.

3.22 The cities network includes a number of important industrial areas that are linked with energy production and processing. At Grangemouth, existing infrastructure and industry form a nationally important resource, and there are proposals for enhanced freight facilities which are supported by national development status. There is potential for use of any available excess heat from Grangemouth to provide heat through a district heating network. Co-ordinated action will ensure best use of these assets, and should be accompanied by improvements to the quality of place and environment in the Grangemouth-Falkirk area, contributing to the wider delivery of the Central Scotland Green Network.

Rural communities will benefit from well-planned renewable energy development

3.23 Onshore wind will continue to make a significant contribution to diversification of energy supplies. We do not wish to see wind farm development in our National Parks and National Scenic Areas. Scottish Planning Policy sets out the required approach to spatial frameworks which will guide new wind energy development to appropriate locations, taking into account important features including wild land.

3.24 Local and community ownership and small-scale generation can have a lasting impact on rural Scotland, building business and community resilience and providing alternative sources of income. Collectively, the potential benefits of community energy projects are nationally significant.

© Graham Marchbank.

3.25 Opportunities for manufacturing and servicing to support the renewable energy sector will continue to grow across rural areas, changing Scotland's economic geography by broadening the distribution of employment and development. Many of the ports identified in the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan, such as Ardersier, Nigg, Highland Deephaven, Montrose, Ayr, Troon and Stranraer, are within rural areas where new employment could have a significant impact on local economies.

3.26 Given the relatively high energy costs for households in rural Scotland, there will be particular benefits from improving the energy efficiency of homes and businesses. The lower density of development in much of the rural area will need new approaches to heating including microgeneration - individual small-scale heat projects can collectively help to reduce fuel costs for homes and businesses. Planning of rural towns and their surrounding areas must support low carbon living, decarbonisation of heat and transportation.

3.27 Plans for updating and decommissioning of elements of the gas transmission network to meet the requirements of the European Union Industrial Emissions Directive, whilst maintaining reliable and affordable supplies, are expected to require further action in the coming years.

3.28 Electricity grid enhancements will facilitate increased renewable electricity generation across Scotland. An updated national development focusing on enhancing the high voltage transmission network supports this, and will help to facilitate offshore renewable energy developments. Distribution Network Operators ( DNOs) also have plans to make essential upgrades to the distribution networks. This will be vital, particularly for enabling areas that are remote from the main grid to realise their renewable energy potential. The environmental impacts of this type of infrastructure require careful management.

3.29 We recognise that there will be a need to mitigate the environmental impacts of new or upgraded high voltage onshore transmission lines and that there will be a cost associated with this. Mitigation corridors bringing wider benefits to landscape and visual amenity, and which promote green places and active travel networks, may be an effective option in some areas.

© Central Scotland Green Network Trust. © ScottishPower. © Lorne Gill/SNH.

3.30 Hydroelectric power is a key asset in the north of Scotland, where there are many opportunities for new 'run of river' hydroelectric development. On a larger scale, increasing the capacity of pumped storage hydroelectricity can complement our ambitions for more renewable energy capacity. Amongst the most advanced plans for this, and one which builds on an existing asset, are the proposals to increase capacity at Cruachan. We have identified new and expanded pumped storage facilities, including Cruachan, as a national development. We are also currently exploring the potential role of other storage technologies within the future energy mix.

3.31 At former nuclear generation sites at Dounreay in Caithness, Hunterston A in Ayrshire and Chapelcross in Dumfries and Galloway, site decommissioning is progressing, as are plans for an economically sustainable future for those sites and their wider areas. Similar challenges will arise for areas around Hunterston B and Torness, following future decommissioning.

Coastal and island communities will attract innovation and investment

3.32 Many of the economic opportunities arising from the transition to a low carbon economy are emerging in our coastal areas and islands - including the deployment of onshore and, in particular, offshore renewable energy. Significant areas for wind, wave and tidal energy have been identified inshore, and, in the longer term, new construction methods will open up opportunities for generation in deeper waters much further offshore.

3.33 Two adjacent offshore wind farms in the Outer Moray Firth have been granted consent, representing the world's third largest windfarm with a generating capacity of
1866 MW. We also expect proposals for offshore wind to come forward off the Firths of Tay and Forth. Scottish Ministers are committed to maximising the economic benefits arising from the manufacturing, construction, operations and maintenance activities associated with offshore wind energy developments.

© Clackmannanshire Council. © Aquamarine Power.

3.34 Major infrastructure investment will provide the marine renewable energy industry with upgraded and new-build port and harbour facilities. We expect to secure manufacturing commitments from major inward investors in the coming years and for planning to enable development in key locations. Many opportunities lie in and around our cities and on the more developed east coast, where ports and harbours already support significant industrial activity. We expect that future infrastructure provision, combined with new business and industrial development, will reinforce the importance of key locations including Hunterston, Peterhead and Cockenzie. We want to see a co-ordinated approach to guide development in these areas - making the most efficient use of resources, reducing environmental impacts and supporting high quality development.

3.35 Marine planning is identifying further opportunities for offshore wind off the west coast and for wave and tidal energy across the north and west coasts and islands. Wave energy offers particular potential off the Western Seaboard, and there is both wave and tidal energy in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park. It has been estimated that the renewables sector could, by reaching its full potential, bring over 3,500 full-time equivalent jobs to the Western Isles, almost 2,900 to Shetland, and over 4,500 on Orkney by 2030. There is a need to plan for enough homes and infrastructure to accommodate this growth, delivering benefits for existing communities and supporting the creation of high quality places.

3.36 Plans have been approved to redevelop Kishorn in Wester Ross as a manufacturing base to support offshore renewable energy development, and could create up to 2,500 jobs in the area. Projects are being taken forward at several other locations - for example Lyness and Hatston (which both form part of a Low Carbon Enterprise Area) and Coplands Dock, all on the Orkney mainland.

3.37 Significant ports and smaller harbours on the Caithness and Sutherland coast and the Moray coast can support development of the renewable energy sector. Initiatives such as the Nigg Energy Park and Skills Academy and the promotion of Buckie Harbour form an integral part of local economic strategies and are linked with offshore proposals. To the south, further ports and harbours have been identified as having potential for renewables- based investment, including Montrose, Methil, Burntisland, Ayr and Troon.

© SSE plc. © P&A Macdonald/SNH.

3.38 Onshore planning has a role to play in helping to realise these ambitious plans. Longer-term improvements to road and rail access to north Caithness are likely to be required as investment and employment in this currently sparsely-populated area grows. Given the resource of the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters and its pioneering role in marine energy, Wick, Thurso and Scrabster will have an important role to play as centres for investment, hubs for transport and servicing and as places to live and work. Plans for a transhipment container hub within Scapa Flow, which could benefit in the long-term from the opening up of northern trade routes, are supported by the emphasis within our spatial strategy on broadening opportunities for more remote rural communities.

3.39 Careful planning is needed to make best use of the natural and infrastructure assets across our coastal and island areas, and to balance potentially competing uses within often sensitive environments. A strategic approach to mitigating potential impacts on this sensitive environment is likely to form an integral part of marine planning, whilst issues arising in the coastal interface should be reflected in land use plans.

3.40 Strengthening the electricity grid will be essential in unlocking renewable resources, both onshore and offshore. Interconnectors to the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland and onshore connections for offshore renewables on other parts of the coast are all required to fully realise the potential for diverse and widely distributed renewable energy development.

A flexible strategy for diverse places - areas of co-ordinated action

3.41 The low carbon agenda forms a crucial part of our strategy. We expect development plans to promote a positive, planned approach to providing low carbon infrastructure across Scotland. In spatial terms, the following key locations are of particular significance, and will benefit from co-ordinated action and masterplanning to deliver development in the coming years.

Peterhead is a focus for a number of important projects, including the conversion of the existing power station to provide CCS and proposals for further expansion of the harbour to support this and other opportunities for diversification. Nearby St. Fergus has a potentially nationally important role in supporting an emerging CCS network. The area may also be the landfall for an international North Sea interconnector and could be a focus for onshore connections to support offshore renewable energy. These can support wider aspirations for growth, including the Energetica corridor where energy-driven opportunities are being used to focus investment and promote a place-based approach to development.

Cockenzie, and the Forth coast extending to Torness, is also a potentially important energy hub. There are significant plans for offshore wind to the east of the Firths of Forth and Tay. Proposals for grid connections for these projects are now emerging, requiring undersea cabling connecting with converter stations and substations. We want developers to work together to minimise the number and impacts of these developments by combining infrastructure where possible. Whilst we have safeguarded Cockenzie as a site for future thermal generation, it may present significant opportunities for renewable energy-related investment. We expect developers, East Lothian Council and the key agencies, including Scottish Enterprise to work together to ensure that best use is made of the existing land and infrastructure in this area. Given the particular assets of Cockenzie, if there is insufficient land for competing proposals, we wish to see priority given to those which make best use of this location's assets and which will bring the greatest economic benefits.

We wish to see co-ordinated action at Grangemouth, a nationally important area for infrastructure and investment. The Grangemouth Investment Zone is designated as a national development, along with a new power station with CCS. Together with wider developments on the Firth of Forth, these projects will make a significant contribution to the spatial strategy and support major employment and investment. The area includes many communities who have long lived adjacent to significant industrial activities and it will be important to ensure that their living environment and quality of life are protected and enhanced. A strategic approach will be needed to avoid adverse impacts on the environment of the Forth Estuary. There is considerable potential to support this through the delivery of the Central Scotland Green Network.

Hunterston has long been identified as a priority for industrial and employment use. It benefits from good transport connections, and close proximity to the cities network. North Ayrshire Council and its partners are exploring future options for the site. Links with ongoing regeneration at Irvine through the Irvine Bay Urban Regeneration Company and its Life Sciences Enterprise Area will continue to be important. Future development at Hunterston should aim to make sustainable use of its key assets, including its deep water access. Activities which could align with our national strategy include manufacturing and servicing support for offshore renewable energy development, building on the success of the onshore test facility for offshore wind turbines. There is local support for coastal tourism development in the area, and the site owner, Clydeport, has its own ambitions. Given its existing infrastructure, Hunterston will be an important landfall for strategic grid connections, including the link from Carradale in Argyll and the ISLES Project.

The Orkney, Pentland Firth and North Caithness area is an internationally renowned historic and natural environment, with significant future prospects for growth and innovation. There are unparalleled opportunities for marine renewable energy development - generating significant new business and employment opportunities for the surrounding coastal and island communities. The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters was designated as Scotland's first Marine Energy Park in July 2012. Orkney's European Marine Energy Centre is pioneering wave and tidal energy technologies and is the only centre of its kind in the world. Twelve wave and tidal development schemes are being progressed with a total capacity estimated at 1,600 MW on full deployment. Onshore and offshore grid connections, including an Orkney Islands interconnector, will be essential in fully realising this potential. The emerging Pilot Marine Spatial Plan for this area, together with land use planning, can support delivery of offshore renewables and help to ensure infrastructure and onshore facilities are provided in a co-ordinated way.


Email: Dr Fiona Simpson

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