Windfarm planning guidelines approved
Published Friday, 17 December 2010
Wind farm developments in South Lanarkshire could soon deliver enough energy to power 400,000 homes.
And interest in the area as a location for further renewable energy sites continues to grow.
In a bid to meet these challenges and to balance the needs of developers and local communities, the council has been given approval to publish its finalised Supplementary Planning Guidance for renewable energy developments.
The council's Planning Committee approved the document this week which will provide an up-to-date approach to selecting and agreeing locations of such proposals.
The guidance is supplementary to the adopted South Lanarkshire Local Plan and will now be a material consideration in the assessment of planning applications.
The move comes following a 10-week period of public consultation on the draft document between January and March this year. More than 400 comments were received from stakeholders, developers, community groups and individuals, all of which have been considered and, where appropriate, reflected in the final document.
Although the main focus of the guidance is on wind farms, it also provides advice on other forms of renewable energy, including micro-renewables such as stand-alone turbines serving individual buildings.
South Lanarkshire currently has major developments already operating at Blacklaw near Forth, Whitelee near East Kilbride and Hagshaw Hill near Douglas.
There are currently several other schemes under construction or approved, including the 152 turbine Clyde windfarm at Abington.
In total these schemes could deliver an output of more than 800 megawatts. This would be enough energy to power 400,000 homes - three times the number of households in South Lanarkshire.
These developments all contribute to the national targets set by the Scottish Government for 50% of Scotland's electricity demand to be met from renewable sources by 2020.
The guidance has been prepared following extensive assessment of the local environment and landscape and included a review of local landscape designations. Based on this, six Special Landscape Areas (SLAs) have been identified which focus on those locations with the highest landscape quality and value. These will supersede current designations within the current Local Plan and inform all future renewable energy applications
Councillor Graham Scott, the chair of the Planning Committee, said: "The challenge for the council in preparing this important document was to identify further locations for such developments which offer the right conditions for renewable energy generation without harming important environmental resources or affecting local communities.
"I believe, following wide public consultation, that a balance has been struck - in essence, this Supplementary Planning Guidance sets out a sensible and practical framework to guide the future development of wind farms."