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Spatial data simplifies complex planning information for onshore wind generation

With the Scottish Government's ambitious targets for increasing renewable energy generation up to 2020, developments of onshore wind generation will continue to grow.

Local Government Authorities such as the Moray Council play a vital role in managing the balance between supporting these goals with any potential environmental and community concerns. Effective guidance, utilising spatial data, is key to delivering this politically and economically strategic agenda.

What were the challenges?

  • Develop clear and effective guidance on the development of onshore wind farms.
  • Accommodate numerous environmental and social factors, such as scenic areas and landscape characteristics.
  • Provide a strong evidence base and spatial mapping tool and data to support planning teams.
  • Help visualise and communicate complex information to a wide range of stakeholders.

What was the solution?

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

Working closely with a number of statutory consultees such as SNH to ensure a wide range of information was considered, including derived datasets utilising data from the One Scotland Mapping Agreement, 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 nonexperts 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.

The guidance was shortlisted for a Royal Town Planning Institute Scottish Award for Quality in Planning, recognising the value of the document.

What were the outcomes?

  • Clear guidance provides a consistent basis for decision making and supports appropriate applications, saving processing time for the Local Authority and supporting local developers and communities.
  • Spatial datasets communicate complicated geographic information simply.

The products used

Download this case study PDF – 347kB


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