An interesting development from Scotland this week as it emerges that ministers in the country are proposing planning changes that would make it more difficult to build projects on land defined as ‘wild land’ – that is ‘rugged, remote and free from modern visible human structures.’
The move would appear to be a blanket response, rather than looking at each development on a case by case basis.
As to whether the legislation would only apply to wind energy developments, or whether other energy structures would be excluded has not yet been made clear.
Scottish Renewables, the industry lobby group in Scotland has claimed in response that up to £2 billion worth of investment in Scottish wind industry could be jeopardised.
And given Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond’s plans to secure the equivalent of all Scotland’s energy from renewable sources by 2020, the changes to the planning law could put that target out of reach.
Whether these changes will become law is still up for a lot of speculation. The number of Scottish Tories sitting as ministers sits at an all time low – and given this is more often the party to object to wind energy developments, the chances of the law being pushed through might not be that high.
Nevertheless, Ministers should be mindful of implementing legislation that further risks the attitudes of investors.
After all, if Alex Salmond is successful in his 2015 bid to lead Scotland to independence, and make good on his green energy goals, this kind of rhetoric at this stage is not something he will want to encourage. Furthermore, an independent Scotland will have to compete with England, Wales and Northern Ireland for green energy investment.
Scotland has long championed its credentials as a green energy hub, it would be a shame if it were to fall at the last hurdle.
The Inflation Reduction Act has sparked major optimism in the US renewables sector, but wind installations still fell 37% last year.