Land use and environment
National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) policy 1 makes clear that, when considering all development proposals, significant weight will be given to the global climate and nature crises. New onshore wind projects in Scotland will enhance biodiversity and optimise land use and environmental benefits.
The Sector will work with the Government, agencies and stakeholders to ensure a balance is struck between the need for increased onshore wind capacity and the impacts that onshore wind can have on land use and the environment. Balancing the need for more wind farms with the safeguards defined in NPF4 will be a crucial aspect of achieving the 2030 onshore wind ambition. Scotland will continue to be a world leader in responsible onshore wind development, demonstrating how onshore wind can co-exist with a diversity of species, sensitive habitats, peatland, carbon rich soils and forestry, ensuring positive outcomes for the climate and nature.
Collaborative action to support onshore wind
- The Sector, Government and other relevant stakeholders will participate in the peat expert group as outlined in the Onshore Wind Policy Statement. The group will draw on existing and emerging industry, academic and public sector expertise and practice to provide advice to the Government on how peatland management and restoration and onshore wind ambitions can be delivered. Guidance will be brought into line with the peat expert group’s recommendations by the end of Q1 2024.
- By Q3 2024, the Sector, Government and other relevant stakeholders will collaborate on a consistent, evidence-based, proportionate national approach to measuring and evidencing biodiversity enhancements on onshore wind project sites, including consideration of the approach to offsite enhancement.
- By Q1 2024, the Sector, Government and other relevant stakeholders will establish a mechanism by which onshore wind developers can submit information produced as part of the consenting process, such as the site location, dimensions and habitat management plans, but excluding information which cannot legally be made generally available, to a central data repository. This process will include a mechanism for submitting the data gathered in response to planning conditions such as annual bird monitoring, habitat management and peatland management. This data will be used to create a central geospatial database that will be regularly maintained and updated, and which can be accessed for various analytical and monitoring purposes.
Sector action to support onshore wind
- Once a consistent national approach to measuring and evidencing biodiversity enhancement is in place, we will adopt this approach to measuring and evidencing biodiversity enhancements on our project sites, providing monitoring data (but excluding information which cannot legally be made generally available) to the central repository.
- Following the outputs of the peat expert group, we will provide monitoring data (but excluding information which cannot legally be made generally available) to the central repository so that peatland management and restoration activity can be tracked over time.
- We will establish a working group alongside relevant stakeholders to explore the lessons learned from the Hagshaw cluster and to consider the wider potential of a project cluster approach to biodiversity enhancement and infrastructure efficiencies, publishing initial findings by October 2024.
- From Q1 2024, we will provide project information produced as part of the consenting process, such as the site location, dimensions of infrastructure and habitat management plans (but excluding information which cannot legally be made generally available), to the central data repository in a useable format.
Government action to support onshore wind
- By the end of Q1 2024, we will provide clear guidance to developers and planners on the expectations associated with environmental protection and enhancement, including through publishing guidance on NPF4 biodiversity policy and clarifying any potential policy conflicts between onshore wind ambitions and peatland restoration.
- We will seek opportunities to collaborate with public bodies on new guidance they bring forward relating to their functions in onshore wind applications.
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