Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary guidance agreed for adoption
Members of The Highland Council’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee have agreed to adopt the Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary Guidance as statutory supplementary guidance to the Highland-wide Local Development Plan.
This means that from today the Guidance will be used as material consideration in any applications and will have full weight in the planning process as part of the Development Plan once Scottish Ministers have given it their final scrutiny.
New national planning policies published in June 2014 changed how Councils are to plan for Onshore Wind Energy development so Highland Council has been in the process of reviewing their planning policies and guidance. During the process stakeholders and members of the public have had a number of opportunities to take part in public consultation at each stage.
The guidance identifies a spatial framework showing areas with potential for wind farm development as a guide for developers and communities. It sets out the criteria for assessing whether specific development proposals are appropriate and clear guidance for communities seeking to explore small-scale on-shore wind development opportunities. It also takes into account that other areas need to be protected due to their importance, for example for nature conservation or landscape value.
As part of the consultation process the Council has taken account of local considerations, landscape and visual sensitivities and potential for cumulative impact to appraise where there may be strategic capacity for development and to provide clear guidance for pressure areas. This has been undertaken for Loch Ness and work is underway for other study areas.
Committee Chairman, Councillor Audrey Sinclair said: “I would like to thank stakeholders, community groups and members of the public for their involvement in the consultation. This is an important piece of work as it sets out how we, as the planning authority, will manage onshore wind energy development proposals. As a council we are supportive of the development renewable energy but we have to find a balance and be able to make informed decisions using robust guidance.
“Using this guidance, we can continue to ensure protection of the areas of sensitive locations throughout the area, whilst directing the development industry towards the more limited opportunities that will continue to exist in other areas. We now have detailed landscape studies and guidance for Loch Ness with ongoing work on the other areas of the Highlands, such as Caithness, Black Isle and Easter Ross. This will provide further assistance for prospective developers and decision makers alike.”