With the Scottish Government's ambitious targets for increasing renewable energy generation up to 2020, Scotland’s onshore wind generation will continue to grow.
This case study shows how effective guidance, utilising spatial data, can help local Government Authorities to deliver this politically and economically strategic agenda.
Local Government Authorities such as the Moray Council play a vital role in managing the balance between supporting renewable energy goals with any potential environmental and community concerns. To do so, the Moray Council needed to develop clear and effective guidance on the development of onshore wind farms.
It faced a number of challenges:
- Guidance needed to accommodate numerous environmental and social factors, such as scenic areas and landscape characteristics.
- It needed to provide a strong evidence base and spatial mapping tool and data to support planning teams in decision-making.
- The council needed to help visualise and communicate complex information to a wide range of stakeholders.
The Moray Council worked closely with a number of statutory consultees such as SNH to ensure a wide range of information was considered. This included derived datasets using OSMasterMap data from the One Scotland Mapping Agreement.
Using this data the Moray Council identified the key strategies that had to be considered as part of the development of wind farms within their administrative area.
Detailed spatial datasets were used to effectively communicate wide ranges of geographic information between both the guidance contributors and public stakeholders. It meant that non-experts could consider factors such as the capacity of the landscape character area areas or cumulative impact issues.
These maps have been included within the guidance to assist applicants in making appropriate submissions with the best chance of being processed.The guidance is also supported by a maintained interactive map detailing the current status of wind turbine proposals.
"Communicating complex planning information through spatial data has allowed the Council to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, from interested members of the public to commercial developers. This guidance is the end result and it helps ensure developers do not waste resources on applications that are contrary to policy – safeguarding protected areas, the environment and local communities."Kevin Belton, GIS\CAG Officer, The Moray Council.
The data-driven benefits
- The project enabled the Moray Council to issue clear guidance and provide a consistent basis for decision-making. It also supported appropriate applications,saving processing time for the Local Authority and supporting local developers and communities.
- By harnessing spatial datasets, it was possible to communicate complicated geographic information in a simple and accessible way.
- The guidance was shortlisted for a Royal Town Planning Institute Scottish Award for Quality in Planning, recognising the value of the document.