The Scottish Government is mulling over plans to deploy a team of expert planning staff to avoid a bottleneck of renewable energy applications.

The move was revealed by Energy Minister Gillian Martin at an energy panel event at Turriff Show.

She said people are not seeing the benefit of renewable energy generated in Scotland.

Hosted by NFU Scotland, a range of experts including renewables consulting engineer and author, Dr Colin Anderson, Melanie Bryce from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, Director of Alba Heat & Power Wayne Campell and Alex Fowlie of Muirden Energy.

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Giving the keynote address, Energy Minister Gillian Martin said Scotland is at a ‘pivotal point’ in transition from the traditional carbon intensive energy that we have “unfortunately become far too reliant on.”

Ms Martin said our energy system must be decarbonised and “pretty good progress” has been made, but there is still a long way to go.

The Aberdeenshire East MSP: “Scotland is on the cusp of delivering an outstanding amount of renewable electricity, including hydrogen which Aberdeen was leading the way in developing as an energy source.

“It is our future, but at the moment, people aren’t seeing the benefit of even the renewable electricity that we are already generating. It’s not translating down into people’s pockets, including farmers who may have wind turbines on their land.”

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Ms Martin said the Scottish Government aims to produce the revised Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan by Autumn.

Melanie Bryce from SSEN urged farmers to think safety when working on their land and highlighted the firm’s ‘look out – look up’ campaign to make people aware of the dangers of operating heavy machinery underneath pylons.

She said farmers may be aware of the locations of overhead pylons, but contractors working on site may not be familiar with their positions.

Ms Bryce said a key goal is to achieve the ambitious Net Zero targets by 2045 and warned of the growing need to generate electricity, pointing to a predicted 30,000 electric vehicles on Scotland’s roads in the next few years and a massive increase in electricity consuming heat pumps.

Alex Fowlie said renewable energy provided opportunities for farmers, but anyone considering a renewable energy project to make sure it is viable.

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He said the days of farmers erecting a single turbine on their land are over, but farmers using the power they generate rather than selling it to the grid could be more beneficial, especially as power storage systems can play a critical role.

Dr Colin Anderson, who also lectures in the principles of wind energy at Edinburgh University said displacing purchased electricity with on-farm generated power was much more efficient and used north-east crisp and ice cream producer Mackie’s as a case study.

He outlined how the firm had expanded its use of wind turbines and subsequently complemented this with solar arrays to give a more consistent year-round power source.

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However, one audience member said the planning system is too slow and only wanted to generate power for his pig farm.

The minister said local authorities did not always have the capacity to deal with the sometimes complex planning applications around renewable energy and this has led to the Scottish Government to look at pulling together a central bank of specialist planners which could speed up the process.