Renewable Energy in Fife Planning customer guidelines

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1 Renewable Energy in Fife Planning customer guidelines This guidance is an introduction to what we would look for if someone wanted to develop renewable energy projects in Fife. It s a guide to, but doesn t replace, our detailed planning policies. It summarises national and local planning policies and guidelines. These are covered in more detail in Fife s Structure Plan and in Local Plans which are currently being finalised. It sets out: What renewable energy means; How national and local policies affect renewable energy projects; How we deal with planning applications; and The main types of renewable energy, namely: - Wind turbines - Hydro schemes - Combustion: energy from burning - Geothermal: energy from the earth - Solar power - Designing buildings to make the most of sunlight - Coastal wave power - Offshore developments

2 What is renewable energy? Renewable energy sources include the sun, wind and waves. They are renewable because they re unlikely ever to run out, unlike traditional energy sources, such as coal, oil, gas and nuclear power. Plant material such as trees may also be suitable for generating electricity. This is renewable so long as new stocks are grown. Some waste products, such as gas from landfill sites, may also be used to generate electricity and is considered to be renewable. How national and local planning policies affect renewable energy projects The Scottish Executive details its policy on renewable energy in its publication: Scottish Planning Policy Guideline 6: Renewable Energy. Broadly, this encourages developments that generate electricity from renewable sources while protecting local communities and the environment. Scottish Ministers decide planning applications for: hydro-electric projects that generate one megawatt or more of electricity; and other renewable energy projects that generate 50 megawatts or more of electricity. We are consulted on these large-scale applications. Locally, Fife s Structure Plan and Local Plans set out where and how renewable energy developments are most likely to be acceptable. Fife councillors decide planning applications for: hydro-electric projects that generate less than one megawatt a year; and other types of renewable energy project that generate less than 50 megawatts a year. Overhead power lines also require planning permission, from Fife Council, and permission from the Scottish Executive under the Electricity Act How we deal with planning applications We scrutinise each proposal, considering issues such as the likely impact on people, roads, views, the environment and communities. In many cases proposals must include details of any measures, including landscaping, that a developer will take to limit damage to the environment. We can also advise developers on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). The Scottish Executive s Planning Advice Note (PAN) 45: Renewable Energy Technologies has more information about these. In general we favour developments that: are in line with national and local planning policies and guidance; satisfy the requirements of the individuals, groups and organisations who must by law be consulted on planning issues; are sited in areas identified in this guidance and the council s planning policies. In particular, we encourage developments that: use brownfield sites, for example land formerly occupied by industry; use contaminated land; or provide jobs in rural areas. We have identified land at Westfield, Kinglassie, as a potential site for an energy park, suited to companies and enterprises working on renewable energy projects. The main types of renewable energy Wind turbines Wind turbines convert wind energy into electricity. Wind farms are groupings of turbines. Individual turbines don t occupy much land and it s possible to arrange groupings of turbines so that they don t conflict with how the surrounding land is being used. 1

3 Wind turbines tend to attract attention because their blades move. They also require: buildings to house electricity transformers; and access roads for building the wind farm and maintaining turbines. Which areas of Fife are and aren t suited to wind farms? Areas suited to wind farms include coastal strips within town or village boundaries (also known as developed coast). Generally, these are: East Fife east of Lindores, excluding the eastern end of the Ochil Hills and Largo Law; Central Fife excluding the Lomond Hills and their foothills; and West Fife excluding the area north of the B914. Areas not suited to wind farms include: the highest and most prominent hills; and coastal areas outwith town or village boundaries (also known as undeveloped coast). How we will consider wind farm planning applications We ll evaluate each application against national and local planning policies. We ll consider the impact each proposal could have on the landscape, the natural environment and on builtup areas. This could include issues such as: shadows cast from turbines access roads electricity lines We may also consider other issues raised by people and organisations asked to comment on wind farm planning applications. These issues include: aircraft safety aircraft navigation equipment distance from roads distance from railways television reception electro-magnetic interference interference with communications signals The highest hills and most prominent hills are: the Ochils west of Lindores; the Lomond Hills; Benarty Hill; the Cleish Hills range; Largo Law; and Lucklawhill EASTERN END OCHIL HILLS WEST END OCHIL HILLS LOMOND HILLS LARGO LAW BENARTY HILL CLEISH HILLS Areas that may be suited to wind turbines Highest and most prominent hills 2

4 Policies likely to affect how we consider wind farm planning applications Fife Structure Plan Policy R7: Wind Turbines: This sets out the areas of Fife most suited to wind turbine developments. Within these areas, we would tend to favour applications: where the landscape can accommodate wind turbines; for which developers have chosen a site, design and materials that are in keeping with the most important features and character of the landscape, minimising the turbine s impact on the skyline; and which do not have a major adverse impact on people who live nearby. Policy RE1: Wind Turbines: Under this policy wind farms must not be sited on the flight paths: of migratory birds, insects or both; between areas that birds regularly fly, for example to roost, breed and feed. The policy also requires full landscape assessments for commercial wind turbines and wind farms. These must detail how the development would look. They must include: a map showing where turbines can be seen from; a viewpoint analysis, showing how the turbines are likely to appear from various viewpoints; and wireline diagrams (which show turbines in outline on the landscape); and photomontages. Landscape assessments should form part of an environmental impact assessment (EIA), if one is required. Policy RE2: Groupings of Wind Farms: Under this policy, wind farms must not be sited within four kilometres of another wind farm or a proposed wind farm that has planning approval. This policy is significant because research on wind speeds shows that the areas with the best potential for generating wind energy are not dispersed throughout Fife. So developers may apply to site wind farms close to each other, which would have an impact on views. Local Plans: These will define and protect the areas where wind farms could be built. They will take account of the SNH Fife Landscape Character Assessment Further information: Guidelines on the environmental impacts of wind farms and small-scale hydro-electric schemes, Scottish Natural Heritage, February 2001 Planning Advice Note 45: Renewable energy technologies, Scottish Executive Development Department, January 2002 Hydro schemes These use water from rivers, estuaries and dams to power electricity generators. They need buildings to house equipment; commercial developments need access roads and electrical connections to the national grid. Which areas of Fife are suited to hydro-electric schemes? There are no areas in East Fife. West and Central Fife may contribute 0.5 megawatts from the river network. Fife is not suited to large-scale dam type hydro schemes. How we will consider hydro scheme planning applications Developers must secure planning permission for all engineering and building work. We ll consider the impact a proposal could have on the landscape, the natural environment and on builtup areas. This could include issues such as: access roads electricity lines flooding Building badly planned dams, weirs and water channels and installing turbines will alter flow patterns in rivers and could harm fish and other forms of life. 3

5 Policies likely to affect how we consider hydro scheme planning applications Policy RE3: Hydro Power: Under this policy we d support proposals that: didn t damage fisheries, fish and other aquatic life in the river catchment; and were in line with other Fife planning policies and proposals. Further information: Guidelines on the environmental impacts of wind farms and small-scale hydro-electric schemes, Scottish Natural Heritage, February 2001 Planning Advice Note 45: Renewable Energy Technologies, Scottish Executive Development Department, January 2002 Combustion: energy from burning Combustion plants burn materials to make steam, which powers electricity generators, heats water for heating schemes, or does both of these. Typically, combustion plants burn materials known as biomass, and various kinds of waste. Descriptions of both of these follow: Which areas of Fife are suited to combustion plants? Combustion plants are most likely to be sited within or beside a business or industry. We would prefer any combustion plants that burn waste to be sited at licensed waste disposal sites. This would avoid problems transporting and storing waste, and disposing of any leftover waste. Most of rural Fife is suitable for growing trees that could power combustion plants. applications for combustion plants Developers must have planning permission to build combustion plants and for all engineering work. Proposals must be in line with planning laws, with local planning policies and other laws on air quality. We will consider issues such as: access roads how fuels are stored how any waste is disposed of electricity lines Biomass: This describes crops trees such as willow and plants such as hemp and some types of grass that are harvested and replenished by new growth. The amount of carbon dioxide released by burning the wood is absorbed by the new crop. Waste: Combustion plants can use waste from homes, industry, forestry and farming. They can use waste gas from sewage treatment plants and from landfill sites. Some kinds of waste may be available only in the short term, but operators should make every effort to use as much as possible to provide renewable energy. Combustion energy systems can be adapted for use in business, industry, agriculture and in people s homes. It s possible to operate combustion plants for combined heat and power (CHP). This describes power plants where the heat that powers electricity generators is also used to heat homes and businesses. 4 Policies likely to affect how we consider planning applications for combustion plants and biomass There are no planning controls over planting and cropping timber but proposals for tree planting in sensitive areas may require an environmental impact assessment. Further information: Fife Indicative Forestry Strategy: This shows areas where we would prefer long-term tree planting rather than coppicing (retaining plant root systems while regularly harvesting shoots and branches). In general, developers must choose very carefully the areas they propose for coppicing to avoid spoiling views of the landscape. Fife Landscape Character Assessment (FLCA): This considers the impact that isolated buildings, chimney structures and new roads could have on the landscape in various parts of Fife. It also provides detailed guidance on new woodland.

6 Planning Advice Note 45: This indicates potential sources of, and land requirements for, biomass. Forestry Commission: We would recommend anyone considering growing new woodland to consult the Forestry Commission. Geothermal: energy from the earth The temperature of groundwater water deep in the ground can range from 12 degrees centigrade and over. It can be used to supplement conventional types of heating, reducing demand for energy from other sources. Geothermal energy is harnessed by drilling boreholes into the ground and pumping the groundwater to heat exchangers. Inside these heat exchange units, heat from the groundwater boosts conventional heating systems. The cooled groundwater is pumped back into the ground, where it heats up again naturally. Pumps and heat exchangers can be housed inside the buildings they help to heat. Which areas of Fife are suited to geothermal energy? Groundwater is available throughout Fife. But anyone considering using it as a heating source has carry out drilling tests to find out: how deep it is; its temperature; how much is available; and how reliable it is. applications for geothermal energy Developers must have planning permission for: drilling; any engineering work needed to install pumps and pipes; and any other buildings. Developers must choose sites that keep to a minimum the impact of drilling on the landscape, the natural environment and, particularly, on nearby houses and properties such as schools, hospitals and care homes. Using water from former mines could cause land and buildings to subside. Any proposals must be in line with planning laws and with planning policies in Fife. We will also consider issues such as: pollution of groundwater Policies likely to affect how we consider planning applications for geothermal energy Policy RE4: Geothermal Energy: This seeks to prevent unacceptable effects of drilling, engineering and water-pumping operations on the environment and areas where people live and work. Solar power: harnessing the sun s energy This includes solar panels (also called active solar energy) and solar electric cells (also known as photovoltaic cells). Solar panels: Generally, these heat water to boost conventional heating systems, reducing demand for other types of energy. The panels are normally mounted on roofs; south-facing roofs are the most effective. Photovoltaic cells: These convert light into electricity. Individual cells can be grouped into panels called arrays. Some resemble solar panels and others are like roof tiles. It is also possible to group them in gardens or in units covering larger areas. Which areas of Fife are suited to solar energy? All areas of Fife have potential for both types of solar energy. applications for solar energy systems Both the main types of solar energy systems need to meet similar planning guidelines and rules. 5

7 In general, solar panels and cells aren t suited to listed buildings, conservation areas and other areas protected by law against various kinds of development. They may be acceptable provided they are not easily seen from the street; for example, if they are: within a valley roof (one that juts out from another roof ); behind a parapet (a low wall along the base of a roof ); on roofs with a low pitch or angle; or on flat roofs. On other buildings you may need planning permission for roof-mounted solar panels or cells. Even if you don t you must keep to a minimum the impact of how they look. We ll consider proposals for solar panels and photovoltaic cells by referring to Fife s planning policies. We would also consult the council s policy guidelines on garden ground for any proposals to install solar systems installed a garden. We will consider solar energy systems installed over larger areas in relation to issues such as: impact on the environment impact on built-up areas what nearby land is already being used for Policies likely to affect how we consider planning applications for solar energy panels and cells The Town and country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992: In particular, we d refer to schedule 1, part 1, class 2, which sets out development features that are and aren t acceptable. Further information: If you re considering installing solar panels, we recommend you consult our Replacement windows and double glazing customer guidelines. Designing buildings to make the most of sunlight be used in most types of buildings where people live and work. It is easiest to implement when designing new buildings, by considering features such as: the building s position and orientation in relation to the sun; how to collect heat from the sun by day and release it at night; the size of glazed areas, such as windows and doors; the number of buildings in a site and their distance from one another; and building materials. It s also possible to add passive solar design features to existing buildings, for example by adding an unheated conservatory, greenhouse or glazing over a courtyard. Which areas of Fife are suited to passive solar design features? You can take advantage of these features throughout Fife. applications for passive solar design features In general, we encourage developers to implement features wherever possible to reap the benefits of passive solar power. Developers must consider passive solar design as an integral part of designing new developments and of redeveloping, renovating and extending existing buildings. We may restrict proposals for new developments in conservation areas if the site layout and the design and density of buildings are not appropriate to surrounding properties. Policies likely to affect how we consider planning applications for solar energy panels and cells Proposal PRE1: Passive Solar Design: This states that the layout of buildings, their orientation to the sun, and glazed areas should take full advantage of passive solar gain. Design features that use natural sunlight and heat is generally known as passive solar design. It can 6

8 Local Plans: We are continuing to develop these. They are almost certain to require builders to design new buildings that conserve energy. These land-based elements such as buildings to house cables and electricity lines connected to the national grid would have to be in line with planning guidelines and rules. Fife Council s planning customer guideline on house extensions and garages: These state that house extensions must be energy-efficient. Coastal wave power A report in 1993 by the Energy Technology Support Unit (ETSU) found that Fife had no potential for generating electricity by wave energy. But it may be possible to develop existing and emerging new technologies on the Fife coast. applications for coastal wave power systems These should be located on areas of Fife s coast that have already been developed. (Fife s Structure Plan defines these, under the term developed coast.) Any wave power proposals must be in line with planning laws and with planning policies in Fife. We will also consider issues such as: natural heritage access roads electricity lines coastal erosion Offshore developments It may be possible to develop offshore technologies such as wind turbines and devices that harness wave and tidal energy. However these will have to be serviced from the shore and linked to the national grid. 7

9 5. How to contact us Development Services offices New City House 1 Edgar Street, DUNFERMLINE Fife KY12 7EP tel: County Buildings, St Catherine Street, CUPAR Fife KY15 4TA tel: Forth House Abbotshall Road, KIRKCALDY Fife KY1 1RU tel: This leaflet tells you what the Council looks for when someone wants to develop renewable energy projects in Fife. This information is available in different languages and formats Polish Bengali Cantonese Urdu Arabic Alternative Formats NOVEMBER/3964

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