Resource Documents: Scotland (28 items)
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Author: Scottish Forestry
[A Scottish citizen made a freedom-of-information request, to which Scottish Forestry replied as follows.]
Thank you for your request dated 26 November and received on the 5 December and the clarification dated 19 December 2019 under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs).
You asked for:
a) the number of trees felled for all onshore wind farm development in Scotland to date.
b) the area of felled trees, in hectares, for all onshore wind farm development in Scotland to date.
I enclose some of the information you requested.
Specifically data covering renewable developments on Scotland’s national forests and lands, which is managed on behalf of Scottish Ministers by Forestry and Land Scotland. The area of felled trees in hectares, from 2000 (the date when the first scheme was developed, is 6,994 hectares [70 km², 17,283 acres]. Based on the average number of trees per hectare, of 2000, this gives an estimated total of 13.9M.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. Namely data on renewable developments on privately owned woodlands.
Download original document: “Scottish Forestry information request 19-02646”
Author: Renewable Energy Foundation
2019 was the tenth year in which British wind farms have received constraint payments to reduce their output because of electricity grid congestion. There has been a total of £649 million paid out over the decade for discarding 8.7 TWh of electricity. To put this in context, this quantity of energy would be sufficient to provide 90% of all Scottish households with electricity for a year.
Because of a rapid growth in wind farms, particularly in Scotland, the total paid has tended to increase year on year in spite of grid reinforcements and new grid lines such as the £1 billion Western Link from Hunterston to Deeside, which was built specifically to export wind power from Scotland to English and Welsh consumers. Figure 1. displays this trend, showing payments rising from £174,000 in 2010 to a new record cost of more than £139 million. The quantity of electricity discarded in 2019 was also a new record at 1.9 TWh.
Scottish onshore wind farms are far and away the largest beneficiaries of constraint payments, receiving 94% of the total in 2019, and approximately the same proportion averaged over the last ten years (see Figure 2). Scottish onshore wind received nearly £130 million in 2019, and more than £607 million over the decade. The remaining 6% of payments has largely gone to English offshore wind farms, with smaller fractions for Welsh onshore and Scottish and Welsh offshore wind farms. No English onshore wind farms have received constraint payments via the Balancing Mechanism.
The number of Scottish windfarms receiving constraint payments has increased from three in 2010 to sixty-eight in 2019. The largest increase in wind farm numbers occurred in 2017, when eighteen new windfarms received constraint payments for the first time.
Of the sixty-six onshore wind farms in Scotland receiving constraint payments over the decade, two large windfarms – Whitelee and Clyde – received nearly a third of the decade’s total, taking £108 million and £80 million respectively. The animated bar chart (Figure 4) shows how the costs of constraints to windfarms have accumulated over the decade from a slow start in 2010 when payments were made on only three days, increasing to eighty-two days in 2011, with a peak in 2017 when constraint payments were made on 244 days of the year. Wind farm constraint payments were made on 229 days of 2019.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Whitelee, being the largest UK onshore wind farm and one of the earliest entrants into the constraint market, has received the largest constraint payment total. However, recent years have seen newer and smaller wind farms overtaking Whitelee, suggesting that the sites currently being chosen for wind farm development are in locations with poorer grid connection. Whether this is a deliberate choice, designed to maximise average earnings per MWh generated, is open to debate.
The animated bar chart below shows how constraint costs grew in 2019 and reveal that Kilgallioch, which was built in 2017 and is less than half the size of Whitelee, has received more in constraint payments in 2019. Similarly, Stronelairg, built in 2018 and also less than half the size of Whitelee, has risen immediately to fourth in the annual league table of constraint payments.
In 2019, six wind farms were responsible for 50% of the constraint payment receipts, namely Clyde, Kilgallioch, Whitelee, Stronelairg, Fallago Rig, and Dunmaglass. It is particularly notable that of these six highly constrained wind farms:
a) Stronelairg received planning permission in spite of being behind a grid bottleneck and was subject to a Judicial Review due to its impact on wild land. Moreover, there are currently two further neighbouring applications in process for Glenshero owned by the GFG Alliance, and Cloiche, which is proposed by SSE, the operator of Stronelairg.
b) Whitelee, which opened in 2007 with a capacity of 322 MW, and was one of the first wind farms constrained off in the Balancing Mechanism, has been extended very significantly, with a further 217 MW entering service in 2012.
c) Clyde was completed in 2009, but permission to extend the site with an additional 74 (172.8 MW) turbines was granted in July 2014 and completed in 2017.
d) Fallago Rig is currently seeking an extension to add a further 12 turbines.
e) Kilgallioch is also seeking an extension.
Wind farm owners charge more per unit to reduce output than they earn through generating. For wind farms subsidised under the Renewables Obligation (RO) the income foregone when instructed to reduce output is the value of the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC). Typically, wind farms ask to be paid much more than the lost income, and in the early days of wind farm constraint payments, the premiums charged for not generating were very high indeed. For example, in 2011, Crystal Rig 2 charged £991 per MWh to reduce output compared to the value of the ROC at that time of £42 per MWh. Kilbraur, Millennium, Farr, An Suidhe were charging between £200 to £320 per MWh constrained-off in 2011.
This was regarded as an abuse of market power, and the Government introduced the Transmission Constraint Licence Condition (TCLC) in 2012, which sought to prevent excessive bid prices in the event of a constraint. While there can be no doubt that the TCLC resulted in a reduction in prices, they are still well in excess of the subsidy foregone in 2019 as Figures 6 and 7 demonstrate.
Figure 6 shows the five onshore wind farms which received the largest premiums above the subsidy forgone and the five which received the smallest premiumin 2019. It is interesting to note that Andershaw, Blackcraig, Beinneun, Cour and Sanquar, which are receiving a high premium over lost income, are newer wind farms accredited after the ROC banding for onshore wind was reduced such that they receive 0.9 of a ROC per MWh in subsidy. Assuming the 2019 ROC value will be approximately £55, these wind farms would receive £49 per MWh if generating but ask for and receive £96-£98 per MWh not to generate and thus get a premium of £47–£49 above the subsidy when constrained off. The five wind farms with the lowest constraint prices are older wind farms which receive 1 ROC per MWh. In 2019, they were setting constraint prices of £64-£69 per MWh to reduce output, thus getting a premium of £10-£15 per MWh.
The RO-subsidised offshore windfarms which received constraint payments fall into various subsidy bands: 1, 1.5, 1.8 and 2.0 ROCs per MWh. Taking these variations into account, it is again the newer wind farms that are charging higher constraint payments with the most expensive five offshore wind farms making £52 – £74 per MWh more than the site-specific subsidy forgone. The five least expensive received £20 – £38 per MWh over their subsidy.
It is difficult to see any justification for compensation over and above the subsidy lost, and indeed REF has suggested, as many economists would argue, that constraints are a normal and entirely foreseeable commerical risk and should not be compensated at all. Indeed, REF infers from the data presented above that constraint payments are actually encouraging the siting of onshore wind farms in grid constrained areas. This is clearly not in the public interest, and entails a significant cost to electricity consumers, who ultimately fund constraint payments through their bills.
Finally, it must be remembered that the cost of mislocating wind farms in areas with weak grid connection or behind constraints is much greater than the direct payments to wind farms themselves, large though these are. When a wind farm is constrained off the grid on one side of a grid bottleneck, National Grid as the system operator is required to make up the short fall in electricity by paying other generation (usually gas-fired) to increase generation on the other side of the bottleneck. Over the last ten years, the overall cost of constraints has risen by nearly 400%, from £165 million in 2010 to £636 million in 2019, reflecting the expense and difficulty of integrating a large wind fleet, and increasingly a large solar fleet, into the GB electricity grid.
Author: Miller, Andrew
SHERIFF COURT OF GRAMPIAN, HIGHLAND AND ISLANDS AT ABERDEEN: 10 May 2018
The sheriff, having resumed consideration of the cause, Finds the following facts admitted or proved, namely: …
10) The planning consent was subject to a number of conditions including planning condition 17, which was in the following terms:
At wind speeds not exceeding 12 metres per second, as measured or calculated at a height of 10 metres above ground level at the site, the noise level generated by the wind turbine cluster at any noise sensitive premises shall not exceed:
a) During night hours, (2300 – 0700), 35 dB LA 90 (10 minutes) or the night hours LA 90 (10 minutes) background noise level plus 5 dBA, whichever is the greater, and;
b) During daytime hours, (0700 – 2300), 38 dB LA 90 (10 minutes) or the daytime hours LA 90 (10 minutes) background noise level plus 5 dBA whichever is the greater.
Reason: In order to ensure that neighbouring residential properties are protected from unacceptably high levels of additional noise arising from the operation of the turbines.
11) The pursuers received no formal notification of the defender’s application for planning permission for the turbines and were unaware of the precise locations chosen for the turbines until construction commenced.
12) On becoming aware of the proposed location of the turbines the pursuers did not complain or attempt to intervene to prevent construction of the turbines.
13) The turbines were constructed during 2011 and commissioned on 7 November 2011.
14) The turbines were manufactured by Enercon. They are each approximately 80 metres in height to blade tip. …
25) The nearest turbine to East Mains of Crichie (‘turbine 1’) is situated approximately 477 yards (436 metres) northeast of the dwellinghouse there, the base of the turbine being no more than 8 metres higher than the ground level of the dwellinghouse. 26) The turbines were operated for the first time on 7 November 2011, when they were tested at high speed (‘the high speed test’). On that occasion Mrs Milne was in the grounds of her property at East Mains of Crichie, exercising one of her horses. Mr Milne was working offshore. No prior notice had been given to Mrs Milne of the high speed test.
27) During the high speed test the blades of turbine 1 were rotated at high speed, which generated a loud noise for approximately a minute, after which a braking system was applied, which generated a different, very loud noise similar in character to the noise of a jet aircraft. The noise emitted by the turbines during this high speed test was frightening to Mrs Milne and to her horse, which bolted.
28) A further high speed test of turbine 1 was carried out later on 7 November 2011, with the same results. The noise emitted during the second test was again frightening to Mrs Milne and to her horse.
29) On 8 November 2011 Mrs Milne approached a member of Enercon staff who was working in the vicinity of turbine 1 and complained about the noise emitted by the turbines during the high speed test the previous day. As a result Mrs Milne has received prior notice from Enercon of all subsequent high speed tests of the turbines, although on some occasions the period of notice has been as short as 30 minutes.
30) Similar high speed testing of the each of the turbines, with similar results in terms of the volume and character of the noise emitted, has been conducted on three or four occasions each year since the first such test on 7 November 2011. Each testing period lasts around half a day.
31) After the first high speed test of the turbines on 7 November 2011 the turbines commenced routine operation under wind power.
32) Under routine operation the turbines emit noise of a volume and character which is disturbing to Mr and Mrs Milne.
33) The volume of the noise emitted by the turbines is frequently loud and intrusive to Mr and Mrs Milne’s domestic routines and activities. The volume of the noise emitted by the turbines can unexpectedly drop and, having dropped, can unexpectedly resume at an intrusive level. The noise emitted by the turbines is often clearly audible within the grounds of the pursuers’ property and is sometimes audible within their house even with the double glazed windows closed.
34) The character of the noise emitted by the turbines varies from high frequency rhythmic ‘blade swish’ corresponding to the rotation of the blades to continuous lower frequency noise. The noise often pulses in time with the rotation of the turbine blades. The frequency of the pulses increases with the strength of the wind and hence the speed of rotation. Gusts of wind can result in sudden, sharp, particularly loud pulses of noise. The noise can be maintained at an intrusive level for long periods of time, extending to days at a time, depending on the wind conditions.
35) The volume and character of the noise emitted by the turbines changes with the strength of the wind.
36) The turbines emit noise of the volume and character described in the preceding findings in fact constantly except when the wind drops to a level at which the turbine blades do not rotate, or only rotate slowly.
37) The noise emitted by the turbines has been disturbing to Mrs Milne. She became more upset and emotional as time went on due to the impact of the noise from the turbines on her peace of mind and quality of life. She experienced difficulty concentrating and became irritable and unable to relax as a result of the volume and character of the noise emitted by the turbines.
38) From approximately 1991 until January 2017 Mr Milne worked offshore in the oil industry on a four week on/ four week off rotation. This limited his exposure to the noise emitted by the turbines during the period after they were commissioned in November 2011, although during his periods onshore Mr Milne has experienced the same general level of intrusion from the noise emitted by the turbines as Mrs Milne.
39) Until February 2017 Mrs Milne spent a significant proportion of her time at East Mains of Crichie outdoors exercising, riding or tending to her horses. The noise emitted by the turbines has been particularly intrusive in relation to her domestic routines and quality of life whilst she has been undertaking these activities.
40) As a result of the noise emitted by the turbines Mrs Milne has been unable to sleep in the master bedroom of the house at East Mains of Crichie since approximately November 2012. Since then she has had to sleep in a bedroom at the opposite side of the house.
41) Mr Milne’s sleeping arrangements have also been affected by the noise emitted by the turbines. He has refused to move to a different bedroom and continues to sleep in the master bedroom when he is at East Mains of Crichie. However he is only able to sleep in that bedroom with the window closed, in contrast to his longstanding practice of sleeping with his bedroom window open.
42) One component of the noise emitted by the turbines is amplitude modulation (‘AM’), a phenomenon whereby the level of noise generated by the passing of the turbine blades through the air fluctuates periodically over time.
43) Different forms of AM are associated with the operation of wind turbines. One form (normal AM (‘NAM’)) is associated with the high-frequency ‘blade swish’ arising from the rotation of the turbine blades. Other forms of AM (‘other AM (‘OAM’)) associated with wind turbines are less well understood but include a form of OAM which results from the turbine blades coming into contact with the surrounding air at too flat an angle, resulting in the generation of low-frequency ‘thumping’ noises at locations distant from the turbine. Scientific knowledge in relation to AM as it pertains to the operation of wind turbines is a developing field.
44) AM is present within the noise emitted by the turbines situated at West Knock Farm.
45) In 2012 Mrs Milne began to keep diary entries describing the noise emitted by the turbines. She maintained that practice each year until the end of 2016.
46) Mrs Milne wrote to Aberdeenshire Council Environmental Health Department on 7 January 2012 expressing her concerns about the noise emitted by the turbines. That letter made reference to 11 almost constant noise pollution” from the turbines and complained about the 11 acoustic character” of the turbine noise as well as its volume. …
50) In response to the concerns expressed by Mrs Milne about the noise emitted by the turbines, Aberdeenshire Council served an Abatement Notice on the defender on 11 December 2013 under section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Proceedings at Peterhead Sheriff Court, initiated by the defender, followed. Those proceedings are presently sisted.
51) In November 2016 Mr Milne took up a temporary assignment with his employer based onshore in Surrey. He commenced work in Surrey in January 2017. His assignment there is due to come to an end in November 2018.
52) Mrs Milne chose to relocate with her horses to Surrey in February 2017 in order to get away from the noise emitted by the turbines. She presently lives with Mr Milne in Surrey and her horses are stabled near to the rented property where they currently live.
53) Mr and Mrs Milne expect to return to live at East Mains of Crichie when Mr Milne’s assignment in Surrey comes to an end.
54) Mrs Milne’s state of mind and emotional wellbeing have improved since she moved to Surrey. That improvement is due to the fact that, whilst resident in Surrey, she is not subject to the noise emitted by the turbines.
55) Solicitors acting for the pursuers served a notice on the defender on or about 14 January 2017 under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. That notice asserted that the frequency, character, duration and repetition of the noise emitted by the turbines gave rise to a statutory nuisance within the meaning of that Act.
56) As at Sunday 11 February 2018, when Mr and Mrs Milne returned to East Mains of Crichie in order to attend the proof in these proceedings, there was no abatement of the volume or character of the noise emitted by the turbines which was noticeable to them.
57) The volume of the noise emitted by the turbines has always complied with the limits imposed by planning condition 17.
58) Planning condition 17 relates only to the volume and not to the character of the noise emitted by the turbines.
Findings in Fact and Law
1) The combined effect of the volume and character of the noise emitted by the turbines situated on the defender’s land at West Knock Farm would not be tolerated by a reasonable person and amounts to a nuisance at common law.
2) The combined effect of the volume and character of the noise emitted by the turbines situated on the defender’s land at West Knock Farm amounts to a statutory nuisance within the meaning of section 79(1)(g) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
3) The pursuers are persons aggrieved by the existence of a statutory nuisance for the purposes of section 82(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as a result of the combined effect of the volume and character of the noise emitted by the turbines situated on the defender’s land at West Knock Farm. …
Download original document: “SCT-Milnes-v-Stuartfield-Windpower-Judgment”
Author: Gordon, David
1. In the course of public debate on contentious topics, especially when large sums of money and politics are involved, ‘evidence’ is often collateral damage. Statistics are more often than not used, as the old joke has it, as a drunk uses a lamp-post: for support not for illumination.
2. This paper is the product of frustration and dismay at the misuse of evidence, particularly statistical evidence, by a powerful pro-wind lobby to create a confused, unbalanced and complacent picture of the possible impact of the growth of onshore wind electricity generation in Scotland on tourism and recreation, particularly mountainlinked tourism and recreation. Hyperbole by opponents of wind energy in the face of this well-organised and well-connected lobby is understandable, but equally fails to illuminate.
3. Proponents of wind farms would have us believe that tourism impacts are negligible. Opponents would have us believe that the destruction of tourism in Scotland is nigh. Neither position is at all tenable. The real position is much more subtle and complex. That is an uncomfortable message for all sides in a polarised debate.
4. This paper is an independently-written attempt to assess, as objectively as possible, what is really known about the possible impact of wind farms upon mountain-linked tourism and recreation within Scotland. This is set in the context of tourism in general, not least because there is no data specifically on mountaineering other than that produced by Mountaineering Scotland itself. It is foregrounded by a brief setting out of my personal and Mountaineering Scotland’s positions so that readers can judge whether these have biased my interpretation of the available evidence.
The key findings are:
5. There is no simple answer to the question of whether wind farms affect tourism (or recreation). It depends on
- the characteristics of the proposed development, both individually and as part of regional and national patterns;
- the nature of the local tourism offer and market, and that of competitors; and
- the characteristics of local tourists.
6. The hypothesis that best fits the available, far from perfect, data is that wind farms do have an effect on tourism but the effect is experienced predominantly in areas where large built structures are dissonant with expectations of desired attributes such as wildness or panoramic natural vistas, and where a high proportion of visitors come from the 25% of tourists in Scotland who are particularly drawn by the quality of upland and natural landscapes, with mountaineering visitors prominent amongst these. In much of Scotland, and for most tourists, wind farms are no serious threat to tourism: the nature of the local tourism offer, and good siting of wind farms, mean they can co-exist.
7. The main adverse effect of wind farms on tourism, thus far, is displacement within Scotland from areas perceived as ‘spoilt’ to areas seen as still retaining the desired sense of naturalness. The GCU Moffat Centre study, relied upon by developers and the Scottish Government, estimated the likely level of tourism displacement across Scotland by wind farms to be around 1-2%. The estimates in the present paper range up to 5%. This difference is modest given the five-fold increase in onshore wind farm capacity in Scotland between the data points for the two studies (2007 & 2015).
8. Tourism in Scotland is not thriving, with standard indicators of tourism volume in 2016, the latest available consistent data, still below pre-2008 levels. Positive media coverage of a ‘thriving’ tourism sector, typically based on statistically selective press releases, is seldom supported by the full figures. In a competitive world, it is foolish to put at risk any segment of Scotland’s tourism market.
9. Five per cent of Scottish tourism spend would be £250m. This is well within the range of fluctuation seen in national tourist spend from year to year and therefore undetectable, even if it was all lost to Scotland and not simply displaced within Scotland. Since the true figure could well be smaller, attempting to find evidence in national or regional tourism statistics of the effect of any particular change is almost certainly futile. It is statistically illiterate to think the lack of detection of a modest effect in volatile regional and national tourism statistics is evidence of no effect.
10. But any effect of wind farms will be much less visible in routine statistics because the income is not lost to the national tourism economy but displaced and relocated within Scotland. Even the lowest level estimated – 1% or £35m – would have a marked impact if concentrated in a limited number of places. It is still doubtful if such an effect could be detected in routine statistics since much tourism economic activity does not feature in statistics (e.g. many tourism business are below the VAT registration level) and it is such activity that might be most likely to be affected by a local drop in visitors.
11. BiGGAR Economics has attempted to look at impact in the vicinity of a general cohort of wind farms and has found no effect. Setting aside several methodological concerns about this study, the sample included only one wind farm in an area where a tourism effect would be predicted based on the conclusions of the present paper. The postconstruction outcome data for this wind farm was confounded by continuing wind farm construction locally, making it impossible to separate any tourism effect from the effect of construction worker accommodation and expenditure.
12. The evidence on wind farms and tourism in Scotland relates to the present pattern of development consented under a rigorous planning system. Mountaineering Scotland does not agree with all planning decisions, but the process is certainly exacting. This makes it difficult to assess impact on mountaineering or wild land tourism empirically because few wind farms that might be expected to have an adverse effect have been consented and most are not yet built. Insofar as Mountaineering Scotland objections can be used to identify planning applications in areas important for mountaineering and related tourism, there have been only eight wind farm consents in such areas and only two were operational by 2016. When wind farms are refused planning permission in mountain or wild land areas the reasons given are typically landscape and visual, but an unrecognised side-effect has been to limit potential for tourism impacts.
13. Despite the clearly inadequate nature of the present evidence base on wind farms and tourism, the Scottish Government remains content with reviews of old research with almost no primary research later than 2008, despite the substantially changed context. That the government and its agencies have little interest in commissioning research to better define and understand the interaction between specific segments of the tourism market and wind farms is to be regretted and serves the public interest poorly.
14. Strategic and local planning decisions on the extent and pattern of wind farm development in Scotland should take better account of the potential for adverse impact in areas important for landscape-dependent tourism, and safeguard sufficient such areas in each part of Scotland. It is not enough to protect only those landscapes within the small number of National Parks and National Scenic Areas.
Published by Mountaineering Scotland, November 2017
Download original document: “Wind farms and tourism in Scotland: A review with a focus on mountaineering and landscape”