A major boost to expand renewable projects in the agriculture sector was announced today by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, through the development of an Agri-Renewables Strategy.
While attending the annual Black Isle Show, Mr Lochhead explained 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
Mr Lochhead said:
"Scotland is currently experiencing a renewables revolution and I want to see farmers, crofters and land managers working with local communities to ensure they grasp the benefits for their businesses and the nation.
"Farmers and land managers have access to our nation's abundance of natural resources, so it is no wonder they are already queuing up to grasp the opportunities presented by renewables.
"The renewables revolution offers our farmers and land-based industries the opportunity to cut energy costs, generate new income and contribute to our low carbon future. The list of benefits is endless.
"However, we are all on a steep learning curve, and need to quickly learn to take advantage of the industry's increasing enthusiasm. We need to get our heads around the various challenges as well as the opportunities. Issues such as funding, planning, accessing grid connections, choosing the best technology, and so on, are all topics that farmers and others wish to see addressed in a well thought out strategy. I agree that this is the way forward, and that's why we made a manifesto commitment to make it happen.
"Working with the industry, the Scottish Government is keen to deliver a strategy that ensures our renewables potential, boosts rural development, and a more profitable agriculture sector.
"The Agri-Renewables Strategy will be developed in cooperation with industry representatives and will build on the Scottish Government's existing renewables activity in the agricultural sector.
"Scotland has some of the most ambitious climate change legislation in the world and there has already been a great deal of innovation within the farming sector.
"In a few years' time, I hope every farm in Scotland is benefiting from renewable energy in some shape or form. If we can make that vision reality, then that will be truly transformational.
"I look forward to having the new strategy in place by summer next year at the latest."