Onshore Wind Strategic Leadership Group minutes: 25 April 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 25 April 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Members in attendance

  • Ragne Low, SG Deputy Chair, Scottish Government 

  • Morag Watson, Sector Deal Lead, Scottish Renewables 

  • Mark Richardson, Sector Deal Deputy, Scottish Renewables

  • Neil Douglas, Scottish Renewables Sector Deal Support, BVG Associates

  • Graham Gow, Scottish Renewables Sector Deal Support, BVG Associates

  • Simon Gill, Legislative and Regulatory Barriers Lead, The Energy Landscape

  • Chris Morris, Community Energy Lead, Local Energy Scotland

  • Barry Carruthers, G12 Representative, Scottish Power Renewables

  • Marcus Trinick KC, Planning Considerations Lead

  • Sam Johnson, Techincal Barriers Lead, Renewable Energy Systems Ltd

  • Robbie Kernahan, Land Use and Environmental Considerations Lead, NatureScot


  • Paul Wheelhouse, Supply Chain, Skills and Circular Economy Lead, South of Scotland Enterprise

Items and actions

Welcome and overview of commitments process

The Scottish Government (SG) Chair introduced the agenda and thanked the Onshore Wind Strategic Leadership Group (SLG) members for their ongoing commitment and engagement. The SG Chair then invited SLG members to report on their contributions to the prospective sector deal, other developments and outstanding issues.

Theme commitments update: supply chain, skills and circular economy

Agenda item removed due to SLG member being unable to attend.

Theme commitments update: community energy

The SLG member reported on the value of existing Scottish Government Good Practice Principles for Community Benefits from Onshore Renewable Energy Developments  and how the prospective sector deal can build upon these. They also highlighted the need for feedback from developers.
SLG members discussed the merits of community benefit and shared ownership models in delivering value to communities from onshore wind developments, especially as part of large projects, as well as some of the perceived difficulties in delivering shared ownership, and the need to avoid an overly prescriptive approach.

Theme commitments update: land use and environmental

The SLG member noted that they had had conversations with representatives and stakeholders on peatland, biodiversity, forestry, land management policy and more. It was agreed that nothing significant on this theme was missed from the scoping document, but the SLG highlighted the need for the Scottish Government peat expert group to be established. The SG Chair confirmed that this was in development. The SLG discussed ambitions for restoration of peatlands. Finally, members discussed the need and benefit of being able to access data related to the environmental monitoring of existing sites, which could help inform future practice and support the streamlining of repowering decisions, and the desirability of consistency in reporting of data (potentially across more sectors than onshore wind only).

Theme commitments update: planning considerations

The SLG member discussed the possibility of working with the sector to introduce section 36 templates to facilitate a speedy and efficient determination process. They also suggested working with the sector, agencies and stakeholders to streamline Environmental Impact Assessment Reports (EIARs) to focus key resources on the most important issues. The group discussed challenges in getting timely consents for new network infrastructure and the importance of improving the grid connections process, and the desirability of bringing consenting timescales down overall.

Theme commitments update: legislative and regulatory barriers

The SLG member noted the reserved nature of many of the issues within this theme, and therefore the need to work together as a Scottish sector to set out for the UK Government, National Grid Energy System Operator, and Ofgem the importance of the Scottish ambitions in helping the UK meet its net zero targets. The group discussed proposals for network grid investment decisions and the benefits of a more strategic approach, and the role developers could have in managing the grid connection queue by reviewing stalled projects.

Theme commitments update: technical barriers

The SLG member reported on the need for engagement between the onshore wind and aviation sectors in order to progress commitments in this area. The member emphasised the need for greater transparency, consistency and accountability on aviation arrangements. The SLG members discussed issues related to the Eskdalemuir seismic array and the need for collaboration between UKG, MoD and SG to help resolve the issues.

AOB and confirm any actions, decisions and key messages

SLG members’ contributions will be compiled and a first draft of the onshore wind sector deal created.
Other actions,

  • SG and sector deal support team to draft and circulate to SLG members a timetable for the sector deal drafting process.
  • Distribute contributions on the Skills, Supply Chain and Circular Economy theme via correspondence.
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