Scottish Government holding back solar power - Rennie

Scotland’s planning system currently restricts development of solar panels on commercial properties more tightly than the rest of the UK. Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie has written to the Scottish Government, asking it to review the situation.

Currently there is a limit on the size of solar panel projects before they have to go through a planning application. In Scotland this limit is 50kW, while in the rest of the UK it is double that. Projects must produce less than 50kW in order for the business which installed it to be eligible for rates relief.

The Scottish Government has indicated that it will review the rules for solar installations as part of wider changes to permitted developments.

However Solar Energy Scotland, a body representing the industry, says that this is not compatible with the need for urgent decarbonisation and the need to reduce fuel poverty and energy bills. The organisation also says that the 50kW limit is outdated. As solar technology has developed the area required to generate this amount of power has reduced significantly.

Willie Rennie has written to Tom Arthur, the Scottish Government minister responsible for planning to raise these issues.

Economy spokesperson Willie Rennie said:  

“The need to expand renewable energy and to move to cheaper forms of electricity production are both more urgent than ever. Solar power can help on both of these fronts. 

“The Scottish Government must do everything it can to encourage businesses to adopt this unobtrusive solution on their properties.

“The UK Government has announced it will lift the 50kW cap for business rates relief.  It means businesses won’t pay rates if they do their bit for the climate by installing solar panels about 50kW.  Yet Scotland still penalises businesses who step up and invest in the energy saving technology. We need quick movement on that.

“The planning restrictions are equally daft. To force businesses to go through the planning process for something so unobtrusive won’t help the climate either. 

“Currently the rules are holding back development. They have not kept pace with the technology and the Scottish Government isn’t acting quickly enough to update them.” 

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