The Big England vs Scotland Preview

31 Jan 23

The UK is ranked as the world’s third most attractive clean energy investment market, behind only China and the US.


So who’s going to win on Saturday then? Well, it’s at Twickenham, but England are in a state of upheaval with a new coach and have a poor record in their opening game. Scotland have the talent, but their form can be inconsistent, so it really is anyone’s guess. Speaking of matters difficult to call, where are we with Scotland and England’s renewable energy infrastructure these days? The UK is ranked as the world’s third most attractive clean energy investment market, behind only China and the US. Sara Lamb and Sam Griffiths proffer their thoughts.

In recent times, there has been exceptional growth in terms of solar energy in England, including two National Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) securing a Development Consent Order to date (500 MW) and another six NSIP proposals in the system totalling 1.7 GW. Not to mention the spate of < 50 MW proposals. Perhaps helpfully after the Liz Truss debacle on protecting agricultural land above all else, national policy on solar is relatively limited. In Scotland, with the adoption of NPF4, the national policy picture is favourable. Iceni Projects recently gained planning permission for a 14.3 MW solar park in Renfrewshire on behalf of Mactaggart & Mickel Group Ltd and in terms of the wider picture Scotland has 411 MW of operational solar, with a pipeline of 767 MW. There is a need for 56GW to be installed by 2035 across the UK thus plenty of opportunity both north and south of the border – it looks like a high scoring draw on the solar front!  Offshore Wind
The Government has the target of delivering 50GW of offshore wind energy by 2050, an increase of 36MW. Just last week the Crown Estate signed agreements for the lease of five new offshore wind farms in England (and one in Wales) with a capacity of 8GW.

There are also ambitious plans to deliver 11GW of offshore wind in Scottish Waters by 2030. Scotland already has circa 2GW of operational offshore wind and the 17 ScotWind leases announced in 2022 will enable the next generation of offshore wind farms to be delivered in Scottish Waters to help deliver this.

Onshore Wind
The consultation draft of the NPPF regarding onshore wind energy would allow Local Authorities to identify land suitable for wind energy in Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs). Does this amount to a greater potential for onshore wind? We’re not so sure.

The Scottish Government’s Onshore Wind Policy Statement (2022) sets out an overall ambition of 20GW of installed onshore wind capacity in Scotland by 2030 which includes stronger weight being afforded to the contribution of the development to the climate emergency.

As of June 2022, the UK has 14.6GW of installed onshore wind with 8.7GW of this in Scotland, and a further 11.3GW onshore wind in the pipeline. The momentum is unquestionably with Scotland here and we don’t see a chance of a turnover any time soon!  

So in summary, whilst Scotland has significant offshore wind generation potential and has made good headway on the onshore wind front, England has significant solar potential. Irrespective, the quality of the site and the planning case that supports it is the most important matter and that’s where Iceni can help, assisting with identification and acquisition, taking proposals through the planning process and engaging with local communities.

Though we need to hurry up, the Energy Transitions Commission advised recently that the increase in global wind and solar capacity will need to be 5 to 7 times higher in 2030 than it is at present.

And oh yeah, the rugby predictions…who knows!

Sam Griffiths Associate Director,Landscape
Leona Hannify Director,Planning