Continuing its commitment to making Scotland a world leader in the generation of energy from renewable resources, the Scottish Government has launched two new consultations. The proposals, if implemented, should further enhance Scotland's competitive position in the renewables market.

ROCs and capital grants

The first consultation sets out proposals for permitting the combination of capital grants with Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) for wave and tidal projects. Currently, such technologies receive enhanced ROC bands (5 ROCs/MWh for wave and 3 ROCs/MWh for tidal). However, the current definition of enhanced wave and tidal technologies precludes from the benefit of enhanced ROCs generating stations which have received capital or revenue funding from the Scottish or UK Governments.

Following agreement from the European Commission, the Scottish Government is proposing changes to the definitions which will prevent technologies from receiving the enhanced bands only if they received government support on or before 19 September 2008.

Likely to be less welcome is the proposal not to grandfather ROC support for dedicated biomass stations. Only anaerobic digestion and energy-from-waste projects with combined heat and power are to be guaranteed support, in contrast to England, where all three types of project have ROC support. For a tradable mechanism such as ROCs, to have two different regimes in neighbouring jurisdictions is not considered to be ideal.

For the full consultation paper, click here.

Consenting of onshore hydro schemes up to 50MW

The second consultation, put simply, proposes that determination of applications for onshore hydro schemes of 50MW or less will become the domain of planning authorities, consistent with the position in England and Wales.

The current threshold for applications to be determined by planning authorities is 1 MW. The industry view of that threshold has been that it is a deterrent to large schemes in relation to which a section 36 process would have been unduly cumbersome. In reality, there is little difference between the impact of a 1MW scheme and, say, a 20MW scheme, and the planning regime, together with the Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR), provides more than adequate protections. The proposal, therefore, will potentially encourage a large number of appropriately scaled developments to be brought forward.

Within the planning regime, proposed developments will be classed as local or major, major being those in excess of 20MW. Major developments will be subject to the greater scrutiny now required under the planning regime in Scotland, and will also become subject to the EIA regulations applicable to general planning applications, and not those applying to section 36 applications. All schemes will require a licence under CAR. The CAR and hydro scheme processes run in parallel with section 36 applications, but this may not be the case under the proposed regime, where practice may differ between authorities.

For the full consultation paper, click here.