In various meetings in the last few weeks I’ve been struck by how renewables developments throw up conflicts between different policy objectives.

European, UK and Scottish policies set targets for energy use from renewables.

Developments also have to be assessed against policies for conservation of natural heritage and biodiversity. The myriad of statutory natural heritage designations can be a headache for renewables developers.

In urban areas, biomass developments are encountering difficulties where there are existing air quality problems. Legal controls on air quality derive from the EU Air Quality Framework Directive. Often the existing problems are due to pollution from traffic. It seems ironic that those problems are hampering renewables development, which is intended to improve the environment.

The concern is that other policy objectives will hamper delivery of renewable energy and climate change targets. Yes, the planning system can and is used to balance these competing policy objectives, but planning officials are understandably cautious about the weight to be given to competing objectives. Is it time for the EU, Westminster and Scottish Governments to assess whether renewable energy targets need to be given greater priority?

Neil Collar

Partner at Brodies LLP
Neil is a partner at Brodies LLP and consistently rated as one of Scotland’s leading planning lawyers. He is well known for both his planning inquiry advocacy and his advisory work. Neil has a particular interest in renewable energy developments.
Neil Collar