Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from The Scottish Executive


  The Scottish Executive welcomes the inquiry by the Environmental Audit Committee into sustainable energy, and the opportunity to submit this memorandum to the Committee.

  The Executive is committed to sustainable development across all of its activities. It is also committed to tackling climate change and published the Scottish Climate Change Programme alongside the UK one in November 2000. Energy efficiency and the promotion of renewable energy are central to this Programme. While the Executive recognises that renewable energy is very important, particularly in Scotland, in the short- to medium-term, it regards better energy efficiency as the least cost option for reducing energy-related CO2 emissions. The Scottish Executive, and The Scottish Office before it, has actively supported energy efficiency since 1984 through its Scottish Energy Efficiency Office, from 1992 through its sponsorship of the Energy Saving Trust and since last year through its sponsorship of the Carbon Trust in Scotland. So it actively seeks to promote better energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, and welcomes the priority given in the PIU recommendations to a programme to produce a step change in the nation's energy efficiency. The Executive responded to this recommendation by increasing the funding available to the Energy Saving Trust in Scotland for 2002-03. It regards promoting better energy efficiency as a significant endeavour, which will be just as challenging and important as increasing the use of renewable energy in Scotland; more on this is given in answer to question 3.

  The other central plank of the Executive's policy is to provide strong support for the development of more renewable energy, in order to ensure that Scotland:

    —  contributes fully towards meeting the UK's commitment to reducing greenhouse gases;

    —  makes effective use of its very significant potential for exploiting renewable energy, building on the foundation of the existing hydro schemes;

    —  develops the technical expertise that will be required to deploy new renewable energy technologies in future; and

    —  gains the benefit to rural communities which renewable energy can contribute.

  For these reasons, the Executive and the Scottish Office before it has long supported renewable energy, first under the Scottish Renewables Obligation from 1994, and now under the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) or ROS, which will operate alongside the Renewables Obligation (RO) in England and Wales. The ROS has the objective of increasing the proportion of electricity supply in Scotland accounted for by renewable energy to 18 per cent by 2010. The Executive is now considering a higher renewable energy objective, possibly of the order of 30 per cent by 2020.

  The Committee has asked the following questions, which are shown underlined with the Executive's answers underneath.


  1.  To what extent have you developed a sustainable energy strategy for the devolved administration? Are you planning to do so?

  The two devolved issues of energy efficiency and renewable energy lie at the heart of the Scottish Climate Change Programme, and in effect form a sustainable energy strategy for Scotland. These devolved energy powers, integrated within the Executive's Energy Division, interact closely with each other and with devolved areas such as environmental policy, sustainable development, planning, fuel poverty and building standards. In addition, the Executive will be considering what its response should be to the PIU recommendations about the role of a Sustainable Energy Policy Unit.

  2.  In the light of the Parliamentary debate on 5 March 2002, please clarify specifically the position on Section 36 consents, and more generally the extent to which the Scottish Executive considers that it can pursue an independent energy strategy.

  Powers to issue Section 36 consents have been devolved to Scottish Ministers by means of an Executive Devolution Order (The Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999 No 1750)). This means that Scottish Ministers have the power to decide to give or withhold consent for any proposed power station with a capacity in excess of 50 megawatts, or in excess of 1 MW in respect of hydro. In exercising these powers Scottish Ministers would require to take account of the fact that energy policy is a reserved matter.

  3.  Energy policy in Great Britain is reserved to the DTI, but a number of areas relating to it are devolved to Scotland and Wales. These include the promotion of renewable energy; the promotion of energy efficiency; and support for innovation. Please can you set out your understanding of your powers and responsibilities in these areas.

  The powers and responsibilities are as follows:

Promotion of Renewable Energy

  Specifically this relates to executively devolved powers under Section 32 of the Electricity Act 1989 (and as amended by the Utilities Act 2000) to make regulations to impose obligations on electricity suppliers in respect of renewable energy. These powers have resulted in the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) 2002 (ROS), which is analogous to the Renewables Obligation, and the earlier Scottish Renewable Obligation (SRO).

  More generally the Energy Annex to the Concordat between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Scottish Executive outlines the Executive's powers to promote renewable energy in Scotland. An example of how these are used is the Scottish Clean Energy Demonstration Scheme (SCEDS). This scheme offers financial support in the way of grant to smaller scale schemes that rely on innovatory renewables and energy efficiency technologies. We are now working on proposals to expand the scope of SCEDS so that it will provide support for community based energy schemes, for instance, in remote and fragile communities.


  The devolved powers do not extend to supporting Research and Development in renewable energy; DTI hold the budget for this. But the Executive does have a budget for renewable energy which has been used eg to fund SCEDS (see above).

Promotion of Energy Efficiency

  The promotion of energy efficiency other than by prohibition or regulation is devolved under the Scotland Act 1998.

  Improvements in business energy efficiency in Scotland have been driven by commercial pressures but have also been stimulated by advice and assistance over many years from the Scottish Energy Efficiency Office (SEEO). The SEEO works on a number of fronts, including waste minimisation, but its main focus is on energy efficiency, using the resources of UK Government's Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme which the SEEO funds in Scotland. This offers impartial information and free advice on energy efficient technologies and energy management to a wide range of companies and organisations. The work of the SEEO has been strengthened through recent increases in funding from within the Executive's own resources and from a Scottish share of Climate Change Levy revenue (£3.2 million a year on average over the next three years). The SEEO also currently funds the activities of the carbon Trust in Scotland from its share of the CCL revenues.

  In October 1999 the SEEO launched an interest free loan scheme for energy efficiency measures in SMEs in Scotland. The scheme, which was based on a similar scheme operating in Northern Ireland some years ago has been adopted by the Carbon Trust, which will operate a parallel scheme in England and Wales.

  SME's form around 98 per cent of Scotland's businesses and consume around 40 per cent of its business energy. In order to ensure that the sector benefits from the recycling mechanisms set up by the Climate Change Levy and makes its contribution to combatting climate change, SEEO this year also established a network of SME project officers in six of Scotland's eight Energy Efficiency Advice Centres. The six project officers have a remit to assist SEEO to deliver the services of the Best Practice Programme to SMEs in Scotland, including free training and site audits, aimed at helping organisations to reduce both business costs and emissions. This scheme has also been replicated on a UK wide basis by the Carbon Trust in conjunction with the Energy Saving Trust.

  In June 2001, SEEO launched the Scottish Clean Energy Demonstration Scheme (SCEDS) to encourage the development, demonstration, application and replication of energy efficiency measures and specific renewable energy technologies. SCEDS offers up to 45 per cent grant aid on eligible projects, depending on the status of the applicant and the merits of the proposal. Applications for 20 projects have been received so far. The scheme provides funding for innovative small-scale projects developing several clean technologies, including; wind turbines, hydro, photovaltaic cells, and biomass.

  The Scottish Executive has also taken a number of steps in respect of the promotion of domestic energy efficiency. For example, our Warm Deal programme, established in 1999, provides households dependent on certain benefits with a package of insulation measures to the value of up to £5,000. In the two years from 1999, 96,300 homes were insulated under this programme. Our Central Heating programme, introduced in 2000, provides a central heating and insulation package for all local authority and housing association tenants and in 40,000 pensioner homes in the private sector. By 2004, most local authority and housing association properties in Scotland will have central heating.

  Currently, the Scottish Executive has no target relating to domestic energy efficiency. As part of our current consultation on our Scottish Fuel Poverty statement, we are seeking views on whether it would be possible or desirable to develop such a target. This might relate to a target improvement in average National Home Energy Ratings (NHER) across Scotland, or it might have a particular focus on improving NHER ratings at the lower end of the scale. This consultation exercise ends on 31st May 2002.

  4.  What are your overall powers in relation to the setting of targets for renewables?

  The Scottish renewable energy objective of 18 per cent by 2010 was set by Scottish Ministers under their executively devolved powers to promote renewable energy in Scotland.

  5.  In the case of the Scottish target for 18 per cent renewable energy, was this set as a result of negotiation with the DTI? To what extent did it have to be set at this level to achieve the overall UK target of 10 per cent? How does the 18 per cent target relate to the ROS target?

  The overall objective of 18 per cent was set in consultation with DTI. It represented, however, the same increase on the level of renewables expected by 2003 as for England and Wales. In other words the percentage annual targets contained within the RO and the ROS are the same. The higher overall objective for Scotland results from the higher foundation level of existing renewables generation, which is around 12 per cent (nearly all from established hydro-electricity but around 1 per cent from renewables projects supported under the Scottish Renewables Obligation (SRO) since 1994).

  Since Scotland's electricity consumption accounts for only around 10 per cent of the UK total, even quite significant changes in the level of the ROS target would have only a marginal effect on whether the UK target would be achieved. Much more important is that there is single GB market for Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) issued under the RO and the ROS. Scotland's plentiful renewable resource could mean that it will contribute substantially more than its pro rata share to UK renewables generation.

  6.  Given the fact that different areas of the UK have different potentials for delivering renewable energy, what process is in place for determining the share of any UK or GB targets which Scotland or Wales should bear? Do you think that present arrangements in this area are adequate? In what ways should they be improved?

  The policy of the Executive is that Scotland should play its full part in enabling the UK to meet its international climate change targets for greenhouse gas reductions, through development of renewable energy. The arrangements for setting of targets would reflect this and the actual targets set would reflect the outcome of the consultation exercises that would precede any new obligation being established.

Progress in increasing the uptake of renewable energy generation

  7.  Please set out the overall current position of Scotland with regard to renewable energy generation, together with data on the extent of implementation of SRO schemes (by Order and type of energy source).

  Established hydro contributes up to 11 per cent of electricity supplied in Scotland. The position for SRO generation (contributing another 1 per cent or so) is as follows:

SRO Status Summary as at 30 September 2001

Contracted Projects
Live Projects
Capacity MW(dnc)
Capacity MW(dnc)

1.  Total
2.  Total
3.  Total

  8.  What do you consider to be the main barriers at present to increasing the uptake of renewable energy generation?

  The main barriers fall into two categories: costs and environmental/other constraints. In some cases these are difficult to separate completely.


  Costs encompass the cost of connection and the wider costs of strengthening the electricity network in Scotland, including interconnection to the rest of Great Britain within the NGC network.

  This requirement to strengthen the grid is often viewed as a technical constraint. There is no clear evidence as yet that the weakness of the grid in Scotland is acting as a constraint on development. We are currently handling four applications for consent for large wind farms and we are aware of a further 12 projects under serious consideration by developers. We expect most of these to move towards the formal application stage by the end of 2002. If all of these projects were to be commissioned, the resultant output would more than meet the Scottish target for 2010-11. It is also clear from discussions with the industry that developers are working on the next raft of developments. This level of activity would suggest that developers are operating within the capacity of the grid. This seems to confirm the initial view of the Network Study undertaken by the Scottish Executive that the existing network has the capacity to accommodate the capacity required for Scotland to meet its targets, provided that capacity were evenly spread.

  On the wider front work is being done to address the connection charging code, particularly as it operates in the SSE area in the north of Scotland. In addition a high level Working Group led by DTI and Ofgem is working on proposals to amend the pricing and management issues that are seen as a deterrent to distributed generation.

Environmental and other issues

  These are wide-ranging, covering issues such as the natural heritage, the effects on local communities and in particular in connection with wind farm developments, air safety, including air traffic control and weather radar, low flying by the RAF, and communications.


  Much has been done to set in place a positive planning policy framework for renewable energy developments. In November 2000, the National Planning Policy Guideline on Renewable Energy (NPPG 6), which was originally issued in 1994, was revised and reissued. In January 2002, the Planning Advice Note on Renewable Energy Technologies (PAN 45), also issued originally in 1994, was revised and reissued. Both revisions were undertaken in the light of Scottish Ministers wish to see the planning system play its full part by making positive provision for such developments against their commitment to renewable energy and its contribution to the climate change programme and in anticipation of an increase in demand for renewable energy arising from the new Renewables Obligations.

Natural Heritage

  There is a tension between natural heritage matters and renewables developments, particularly wind farms and hydro electricity projects. These tensions are by their nature not easily resolved. Scotland's natural heritage is important nationally and internationally and in some cases relatively fragile. In addition landscape issues feature powerfully in the consideration of wind farm proposals. This has to be balanced against the potential impact of climate change on the ecology.

Low Flying etc

  All parts of Scotland, other than the Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen areas, are considered Low Flying Areas (LFAs) for military aircraft which are required to maintain a minimum separation distance (msd) of 250ft between themselves and the ground or any structure. In addition, much of Southern Scotland and the North-west Highlands are Low Flying Tactical Training Areas (TTAs) where flying at heights between 250-100ft is permitted by fast jet and Hercules aircraft. Developments in wind turbine technology now mean that larger turbines are commonly over 300ft from ground to blade tip. The MOD has reserved the right to object to proposed wind farm development both within the TTAs and elsewhere when it considers that the development would represent a threat to aircraft, aircrew and public safety and to radar and other communications. Civil ATC radar considerations are also a potential constraint in the areas surrounding Scotland's larger airports.

Longer Term Issues

  There are some longer-term issues that could affect the development of renewables in Scotland. Many developers in the renewables sector argue that the introduction of NETA (New Electricity Trading Arrangements) acts as a disincentive to renewables since it provides price rewards for electricity generation that is predictable and penalises intermittancy and unpredictability. NETA does not apply in Scotland, but proposals for a GB-wide electricity market, probably based on NETA are being developed. The industry regulator has also been working on proposals to introduce zonal pricing into the electricity industry. This would operate on the principle that generation close to the point of consumption should be rewarded whereas that remote from consumption should be penalised. Such a development would not be an encouragement to renewables generation in Scotland.

  9.  Please clarify the nature of the current limitations imposed by the Anglo-Scottish interconnector. What impact does this have on energy policy, and in particular on new renewables projects, in both Scotland and the UK as a whole?

  Use of the Anglo-Scottish interconnector is at present constrained by the limits of the North Yorkshire line within the NGC network. At present the interconnector does not impose a constraint on renewable energy development. The issue of constraints imposed by lack of interconnection is being addressed by the DTI, Ofgem and the GB network operators.

  10.  To what extent do you see planning issues as limiting the potential growth of renewable energy? Have you considered ways of altering planning procedures in order to speed up consents and promote a better uptake?

  See 8 above.

  11.  In what circumstances are planning applications called in even when approved at a local authority level? How are such cases dealt with and what administrative targets (if any) have been put in place? Please provide relevant data on planning applications (number, length of time, outcome, whether called in) for renewable energy projects.

  There are long standing arrangements requiring planning authorities to notify The Scottish Executive of certain types of proposals which they are minded to approve. The current provision is contained in the Town & Country Planning (Notification of Applications) (Scotland) Direction 1997, issued as an annex to SODD Circular 4/1997 on 1 April 1997 and The Town & Country Planning (Notification of Applications) (National Scenic Areas) (Scotland) Direction 1987 (see SDD Circular 9/1987).

  Planning policy is set out in National Planning Policy Guidelines (NPPGs). When NPPG 6: Renewable Energy Development was originally issued in August 1994, developments of one wind turbine or more were made notifiable. An amendment to the Notification Direction (SODD Circular 43/1997 dated 30 December 1997) changed the criteria to "developments consisting of 10 or more wind generators". With the publication of the revised version of NPPG 6, the covering letter (dated 30 November 2000) removed the specific requirement covering wind turbines. However there are circumstances within the Notification Direction where wind turbine proposals, like any other type of development, are still notifiable.

Notified cases since 1994

  Since 23 September 1994, 18 cases have been notified. Sixteen of these relate to the specific requirement to notify wind turbine developments, although several were also notifiable under other criteria. Of these 18 cases, 10 were not called-in and the cases were returned to the local authority for their decision. Seven were called-in for determination by the Secretary of State / Scottish Ministers and a decision as to whether or not to call-in one has yet to be taken. Of the seven called-in cases, one was approved, five refused and on one a decision is pending. Since the specific notification requirement for wind turbines was removed, two cases have been notified, both on the basis of other criteria within the Notification Directions (these are the undetermined cases referred to above). One involves a wind farm development that was subject to objection from Historic Scotland because of the likely impact on archaeological / historic importance of the adjacent area (the need for call-in is still under consideration). The other was a mixed development that included a single wind turbine. This case was called-in and is currently with the Scottish Executive Inquiry Reporters Unit (SEIRU).

  The 16 cases that have gone through the total process represented 332 turbines within the range one to 40. 240 turbines (72 per cent) were not called in. Of the 92 turbines that were called-in, 20 were approved and 72 (22 per cent of the total notified) refused. In total, 260 turbines (78 per cent) were cleared.

Time taken to determine notified cases

  This is a two stage process. The first stage involves a decision by Scottish Ministers as to whether the case should be called-in for their determination and covers the period from notification to the decision on call-in. If the case is not called-in the proposal is referred back to the planning authority for determination and Scottish Executive involvement ends. Of the 17 cases that have gone through this first stage, the time taken varies from about two weeks to about 35 weeks. The average is 13 weeks for all cases, 20 weeks for cases that were called-in and 9 weeks for cases that were not called-in. The Departmental target for this 1st stage is:

    —  80 per cent of cases notified to the Scottish Ministers for a decision on whether to call-in to be decided within 28 working days and the remainder within two months.

  The second stage involves cases that are called-in. This stage involves referring the case to SEIRU. It usually involves a Public Local Inquiry (PLI), the preparation of a report and recommendation by a SEIRU Reporter, consideration of this with SE Planning and a submission to the Scottish Ministers with a recommended course of action and the issuing of the Ministers decision. The length of the PLI can vary from one day to two weeks. An exception to this involved a conjoined PLI of two notified cases and a re-called appeal which took 30 days. Of the six cases that have gone through this 2nd stage process, the time taken varies between 62 weeks and 168 weeks. Added to the 1st stage, the total time taken to determine these called-in cases has ranged from 93 weeks to 183 weeks.

  There are two targets within the second stage:

    —  SEIRU will deliver inquiry reports to client divisions normally within a period of four times the length of the inquiry, starting at the conclusion of the inquiry, or within six months, whichever is the shorter.

    —  For called-in applications a decision should be issued within two months of receipt of report from SEIRU in 80 per cent of cases, and the remainder within three months.

Changes in "time taken"

  This pattern of ``time taken'' has changed significantly over the period 1994 to 2002. Up to the end of 1996, six cases were called-in and four were not. The average time taken to determine whether to call-in or not all 10 cases (1st stage) was 19 weeks, within the range 13 weeks to 35 weeks. The average time taken to call-in (six cases) was 22 weeks—within the range 15 weeks and 35 weeks. For cases cleared back to planning authorities (four cases) the average time taken was 15 weeks—within the range 13 weeks to 17 weeks.

  Six cases were called-in in the period to end of 1996. One was approved and five were refused. The one case that was approved took a further 62 weeks from call-in to determination (93 weeks in total). The five cases that were called-in (and eventually refused) took, on average, a further 134 weeks to determine, within the range 83 weeks to 168 weeks. The average total time taken for these five cases was 155 weeks within the range 120 weeks and 183 weeks. A number of these cases raised particular difficulties. One case involved a MoD low flying tactical training area. Two raised issues related to protected bird species and in one of these the PLI had to be re-opened to consider further scientific evidence on "bird strike risk". A further two cases were in close proximity and were conjoined together with a neighbouring re-called appeal.

  Up to 1997 called-in cases were dealt with under Inquiry Rules Procedures dating back to 1980. In May 1997, the Town and Country Planning (Inquiry Procedure) (Scotland) Rules 1997 were introduced to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of inquiries without affecting the essential need for openness, fairness and impartiality. Since the new rules were introduced, there have been no wind turbine developments that have gone through this part of the process.

  Since 1997, the time taken to reach decisions has reduced considerably. Only one case has been called-in (this was an application for a mixed development of which a single turbine was a minor part). The decision to call-in was taken in csix weeks. The other six cases were referred back to the planning authority for decision. The average time taken during this period was cfive weeks ranging from two weeks to eight weeks. A number of possible reasons could explain this:

    —  Explicit Scottish Executive policy support for renewable energy developments.

    —  SE Planning is now more familiar with the issues involved in wind farm developments.

    —  There is wider acceptance of wind farm developments in the Scottish countryside.

    —  Wind farm developers are coming forward with less contentious sites.

  It remains to be seen how the changes to the Inquiry Rules Procedures will effect any future cases that are called-in  

  12.  In what way does the MoD interact with the planning system to voice any concerns it has? What impact has the MoD had on planning applications for renewable energy projects?

  The position regarding planning authority consultations with MoD is confusing. It is clear that statutory consultations are required in connection with aerodromes and technical sites. Consequently such cases where the planning authority is minded to approve a proposal against MoD objections must be notified to the Scottish Executive. There are no similar provisions for LFAs and TTAs. We are aware of two current cases where MoD has objected to the proposed development on the grounds of potential safety implications for low flying training activities. There is in addition one older case. There is no hard evidence beyond this that MoD is raising objections to wind turbine developments, but the industry is of the view that this is a major deterrent to development. Discussions have taken place with the MoD at a number of levels on these issues.

April 2002

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