Wheelhouse backs new strategy on renewables

Paul Wheelhouse.
Paul Wheelhouse.

South of Scotland SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse has given his backing to the Scottish Government’s new Agri-Renewables Strategy.

The strategy, aimed at boosting renewable projects in the agriculture sector, was announced by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP and will be developed over the next year.

While attending the annual Black Isle Show, Mr Lochhead explained that the new Agri-Renewables Strategy will “ensure that land managers can benefit from the renewables revolution and unlock the green energy potential of their land”.

The strategy will consider key challenges for land managers, including:

•Understanding the planning system.

•Access to independent advice.

•Pre-construction costs.

•Connection to the National Grid.

Commenting on the announcement, Mr Wheelhouse said that there was no doubt that Scotland is witnessing a “renewables revolution”.

He said: “I fully support the Scottish Government’s efforts to get farmers, crofters and land managers in on the act.

“We have access to an abundance of natural resources in the South of Scotland and I know there is a lot of interest in the sector here already, which will contribute to cutting energy costs as well as generating new income.”

Mr Wheelhouse said he was pleased that the Agri-Renewables strategy will be part of the SNP Government’s 2020 Routemap, saying it was “only right” that the agriculture sector play a part of that.

“I appreciate there will be challenges during this process, which is why the strategy will be developed in conjunction with all concerned in the industry,” he said. “Issues surrounding planning, developing new technology and funding will be foremost on the agenda and will be tackled in an appropriate way. “

He said that while large scale wind farm sites often meet considerable opposition, small scale wind turbines on farms were typically “far less obtrusive” and can meet on-farm electricity needs.

“There are also many alternative forms of renewables that can be deployed, such as small scale hydroelectric schemes, anaerobic digestion and small scale biomass boilers which can all significantly reduce running costs, or earn revenue, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Wheelhouse said. “In addition, innovative technologies will continue to emerge as Scotland continues its investment in research and development.”

He added: “Scotland has some of the most ambitious climate change legislation in the world and this summer I have seen first-hand some of the fantastic and innovative ways in which our farmers in the South of Scotland are already tackling it. This is just one of the SNP’s manifesto commitment’s that we are seeing coming to fruition early on in this term of office and with rural development at the heart of much of Scottish Government policy I am pleased to see the SNP Government making a positive start to this term.”