Stakeholder interviews

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Question 1 - To what extent are you familiar with and understand the planning application
process that the windfarm application has been assessed and determined within, and in
particular, your own level of participation in the process?

2A) In general, what barriers do you consider prevent effective stakeholder involvement
in       the         planning        process        for       onshore         windfarms?
B) What barriers, if any, hindered the effectiveness of your own specific participation in
the above process for the windfarm proposal?

Question 3 - Do you consider the assessment and final decision made on the application
was sufficiently transparent and justified in its reasoning?
Question 4 - Did you receive any personal feedback on the outcome of the application
from the decision maker?

Question 5 - In your opinion is the current planning process adequate for determining
onshore windfarm applications?

Question 6 - In your opinion how could the existing process be improved?
Planning Officer, South Lanarkshire Council, 26/03/09
(a) Personally felt he was not fully aware of the actual process itself as Stallashaw was the first application of this kind
that he has dealt with.
(b) Not aware of the need to carry out a full EIA and not aware of the need for scoping as part of the EIA regulations.
(c) Fully aware of the need to carry out full consultation with all statutory consultees and of the role of the planning
officer in assessing the detail of the application.
(d) Aware that the applicants carried out a limited scoping exercise prior to submitting the application.
(e) A pre-app meeting was also held with the local authority prior to an application for a met mast being submitted.

(A) (a) There is a notable difference between the perceived and actual complexity of the proposals. There is a lack of
simple, easy to understand information submitted with the application. For example, the ZVI are not easy to
(b) Accessibility of documents can be a problem.
(c) A lack of sufficient expertise and resources, on all sides!.
(d) The potential political reaction to Nimbyism, with final decisions not based on material planning considerations.
(e) Distrust of government, with a greater distrust at local level, and in terms of personal involvement,
(B) (a) Unaware of correct procedure,
(b) Felt there was notable intransigence in statutory consultees responding, with a lack of flexibility. In fact
Consultees gave conflicting advice at times, most notably SNH, RSPB, SWT.
(c) Time consultees took to respond to consultation request.
(d) Time available to dedicate to the Stallashaw application due to other work commitments.
(e) Limited expertise on the part of the planning officer, with limited opportunities for training due to workload.
(f) Strong sense of nimbyism, with many opponents unwilling to enter into discussions with the applicant.
(g) Feeling that there was no proper public debate, opposition group, Friends of Stallashaw disruptive.

Yes. It was comprehensive and covered all points. Objectors were offered a hearing, this was accepted. A copy of the
committee report was sent to all objectors. Objectors had 2 years to make any representations on the proposal, despite
the legal 14 Days period for making objections.
Not relevant as the case officer recommended approval of the application to the Planning Committee.

No, the current process is too incremental, with random decisions being made throughout Scotland.

Current process is lacking an overview, particularly at a national level. This will lead to problems of cumulative
impact, an issue that is not being sufficiently considered. The lack of resources and training is the main issue affecting
the adequacy of the current process. There are however adequate opportunities for stakeholder involvement in the
planning process. A public awareness campaign would be useful, and may resolve some nimbyism issues.
Streamlining of the application process may result in applications meeting their timescales. The provision of greater
knowledge, awareness and training opportunities in the renewable energy field, for planning authorities and all
stakeholders. Setting up a cross boundary planning team to consider large scale windfarm projects that may impact on
relevant authorities. Providing a dedicated renewable energy officer/team within each planning authority, ideally at
HQ level to enable local area planners to concentrate on their existing caseload. Recognition that the upland moorland
areas of South Lanarkshire are the ideal location for windfarm developments.

In this respect the preferred areas approach is considered to be overly simplified, and may in fact encourage
applications in a specific area, creating a cumulative negative impact problem. Visual representation of windfarms
needs to be made more simplistic, with greater use of photomontage and CD ROM technology to demonstrate the
anticipated visual impact of a proposal. Consideration of setting a local/regional target or cap on windfarm
developments to ensure even distribution throughout Scotland. The tolerance level towards onshore windfarm
projects may differ, as the Scottish Government is more tolerant than the general public. Need to recognise that many
members of the public are not really concerned either way, however this may change due to the potential level of
approvals. Reassess whether renewable targets set are realistic. Amend as necessary.
Planning Officer, South Lanarkshire Council, 31/03/09
(a) Fully familiar and understand the process.
(b) Fully aware of Councils role in providing comments only,
(c) Fully involved throughout, with pre apps, scoping etc. No comfort given.
(d) Aware that the applicant carried out substantial public awareness campaign, meetings etc.
(e) Not aware that Clyde Windfarm held up as a good example in PAN 81.

A (a) General apathy of the public towards planning issues, not just windfarms!
(b) Eplanning should allow greater involvement, however some cannot use it.
(c) Lack of awareness of the ability to contribute.
(d) Concerns that even when comments are provided they are dismissed.
(e) A notable level of distrust of government, particularly central government, behind closed doors.
B (a) a,a, Lack of time to dedicate to windfarm proposal,
(b) b,b, Level of work experience in windfarms, recognising the complexity of the subject,
(c) Lack of sufficient resources to assess applications, given existing caseload

No. Feeling that decision had already been made given the governments publicised push for renewable energy
targets. Concern that consultees such as SNH were not impartial in the process. Did not object to 152 turbines
in RSArea but did to smaller windfarm projects. Fairly detailed decision report however doesn’t address main
issue of potential cumulative visual impact and impact on the Regional Scenic Area. Overcame this by
claiming energy generating potential is material consideration. No real justification provided.
Yes, at same time as public made aware, by email the same morning. Copy of decision reasoning and list of
conditions, many of which will involve the input of the Local Authority

No. Not adequate at all. Existing process is overly complicated, with not enough guidance for stakeholders.
Whole renewable energy case may be flawed given global problems and UK's small contribution. Concern that
windfarms are heavily subsidised and represent a quick fix to the problem. There is no long term approach,
and a lack of planning guidance at strategic/national level.
Regional targets should be set for onshore windfarm schemes, Greater incentives should be given to
alternative energy technologies, Local plans should identify specific areas for windfarm developments, with
greater consideration of cross boundary schemes and cumulative impacts. A streamlined process should be
considered, with immaterial planning objections quickly dismissed. Need for greater policy guidance at a
national level, perhaps setting locational targets for capacity generation. Need for greater resources for local
authorities and the Energy Consent Unit. Consider either a dedicated Windfarm officer or preferably an
assessment team to quickly determine apps. Provide capacity building for Council staff, councillors,
community councils, opposition groups etc.
Member of Friends of Stallashaw Action Group, 08/04/09
(a) Fairly familiar with the process.
(b) No involvement at pre-app stage or prior to app being submitted.
(c) Not clear to what extent objection letters are a material consideration.
(d) General opinion is that the process is open and transparent.

A (a) Slight concerns over the complexity of the subject, however many experts in the group.
(b) Concerns over the quality of the original submission, resulting in the need for further info.
(c) Concerns that the Cumulative impact of other schemes had not been properly addressed.
(d) Consultation fatigue not an issue during the assessment of the application, but is now, as access route is unclear.
(e) Approval of the proposal may lead local residents to believe their views have not been taken into account.
B (a) Overwhelmed staff resources,
(b) Lack of training and knowledge/awareness of issues.
(c) not enough time to address planning committee and concern that all objectors together.

Is justification required for the final decision? Officers report was sufficently detailed and considered all relevant
points. Didn’t agree with the final decision of the Committee however felt their concerns had been taken into account.
Concern that certain consultees appear to be pro-windfarm.
Yes. South Lanarkshire Council formally wrote to all objectors to advise of the decision.This is considered

The overall process itself appears to be adequate.

There is recognition that staff resources could be increased, with perhaps a dedicated windfarm team being set up.
Who decides what is a quality landscape? Greater accountability needed. Concern that politicians may not wish to
become involved in the process as it may represent political suicide in some cases. A fairshare argument for Regional
targets should be considered, recognising that some local authority areas may have reached saturation point. Regional
targets should be set at a national level, filtering down to the local development plan. Greater effort should be targeted
towards alternative energy sources, wave, offshore etc. The process itself could be improved by clarifying at an early
stage who is a valid objector and what constitutes a valid objection.
Local Councillor, Clyde Windfarm, 08/04/09 pm
(a) Partly understand the process and aware of the need for varied consultation.
(b) Fully understand role of local councillor in representing all residents views
(c) Aware that pre-app discussions took place with various stakeholders via Liaison Officer, Colin Hynes

(a) A lack of expertise by some stakeholders, community council, public.
(b) Consultation fatigue, esp in this case as 4 years from original app to decision.
(c) Belief that views will not be taken into account, particularly those of objectors.
(d) Distrust of government at both levels, and of politicians!

Feeling that decision is completely out of your hands, determined by a central body regardless of local authorities
opinion. Attempts made to justify decision, however still questionable?
Yes. Informed quickly, same time as other stakeholders. Contact also subsequently by the applicant's Liaison Officer,
promoting the financial benefits of approval for the local communities.

The existing process is considered acceptable.

Setting local/regional targets for windfarm projects, promoting alternative energy production technology. Set up a
local energy consent unit, perhaps comprised of experienced planning staff from adjoining authorities. Increase
capacity building for all stakeholders and provide more staff resources for determining body.
Local Councillor, Stallashaw Windfarm, 09/04/09 pm
(a) Fully aware of the process and the role of all stakeholders.
(b) Involved at pre app stage with both the applicant and local community council.
(c) Recognised a clear division in the community from the start, with 2 camps.
(d) Aware of high level of nimbyism.
(e) Met many different stakeholders

A (a) A perceived distrust of government, at both local and central levels.
(b) No other notable barriers, other than potential consultation fatigue due to the repetitive nature of the process.
(c) No barriers in terms of info was readily accessible and stakeholders had a high level of technical experience.
B (a) No personal barriers.

No, the decision was flawed, with a hamstrung approach. Scale of development not appropriate, site not within
structure plan preferred windfarm area and cumulative impacts not sufficiently taken into account.
Yes. Aware of decision from planning committee meeting. No issues over contact with local authority dec maker. Post
app involvement in setting up a community grant scheme.

No, Cumulative impact of other windfarms in the area needs to be taken into account. The Community benefits also
need to be explained better, specifically what the level of benefit will be and who will benefit.

There is a need for a proper National Energy Policy. Local Authorities are under resourced. An efficiency drive may
also improve determination times. Streamlining may improve the process, however implementing changes can be
difficult. Shortcircuiting the process may be less desirable given the need for justifying a transparent decision.
Local resident, Stallashaw Windfarm, 22/04/09 am
(a) Understand fairly well the planning process and own personal role as a stakeholder, however this is due to
previous involvements in the planning process.
(b) No pre app contact, merely rumours leading to a public meeting in village hall, where basic info was provided.
(c) No tech expertise within the local Community Council.
(d) Set up a Windfarm Liaison group.
(e) Felt like a one way process at public meeting.

A (a) Some residents not aware of the opportunities to participate.
(b) Documents not always available at village hall, maybe 50% of the time.
(c) Consultees took long time to respond, creating time issue. The quality of some consultation responses was also
(d) The majority of stakeholders had a lack of expertise, particularly local residents.
(e) Consultation fatigue definately set in, with many stakeholders 'fed-up'.
(f) Many local people believe their views are not taken into account.
(g) Some stakeholders have a distrust of all levels of government, with allegations of brown envelopes at local level.
Despite this it is not a big issue.
B (a) no barriers.

Yes. Assessment covered all main points. Decision considered to be both sufficiently transparent and justified, at least
up to Planning Committee level. Not necessarily once application had been referred to Scottish Ministers though.
Received personal feedback from the Local Authority, but nothing from the applicant. Shallow promises from the
applicant about providing a local pub.

No, the process is not sufficiently adequate.

There should be a need for a developer/public meeting at an early stage. A Community Awareness Session with
planning staff attending would be beneficial, at pre-app stage. Lack of staff resources a big problem. A mix of
technical detail should be provided in the Env Statement, not just photomontages. No faith in the accuracy of
submitted photomontages. Should be a limit on the number of turbines in an area and a limit on their height.
Representative of Tarbrax C Council, 24/04/09 am
(a) Aware of the process, but could do with some local authority support given nature of the technical issues.
(b) Considered the level of info available at the start was inadequate.
(c) Understood the role of the Community Council in the process.
(d) Considered that the developers pre-app approach was overpowering.
(e) Felt that the Windfarm Liaison Group was not representative of the local community.

A (a) A lack of basic information at the start of the process.
(b) Feeling that local people were trying to use the Community Council for personal gain, with a high level of
nimbyism evident.
(c) Planning process is complex for many, and its not clear that objections submitted after 14 days will be taken into
(d) Definately a lack of expertise that hinders understanding of technical issues.
(e) Consultation fatigue set in, however Community Council recognised the need to continue involvement
(f) Some residents believe their views would not be taken into account, and ask why bother commenting?. This view
not held by the Community Council though. Rumours of bribes to Local Authority staff etc.
(g) A distrust of local government, more at the local level, however no issues of distrust evident at the Community
Council meetings.
B(a) similar to above.

Yes, the final decision was both transparent and justified. Community Council initially felt the benefits outweighed
the disadvantages. The officers report and the final decision took on board the comments of the Community Council.
Yes, the decision was relayed to the Community Council by the Council. In addition the applicant attended the next
available Community Council meeting to offer an element of community ownership of the windfarm. This offer was
discounted. The applicant explained the benefits of the scheme in terms of financial, jobs and tourism for the area. A
reasonable degree of communication with the local authority followed the decision.
No, the process is not adequate.

There are a number of areas where improvements could be made. A local windfarm liaison officer from the planning
dept could assist stakeholders. They could relate to people at a local level and provide a useful point of contact.
Copies of the officer report should be sent to all objectors.?? The level of staff resources in the local authority should
be improved, keeping the team local. A designated officer or team to assess windfarm proposals should be provided.
Basic info on the project should be made available by either the applicant or the local authority, preferably on an A4
sheet, as is the case in the Pates Hill windfarm, West Lothian. Consider a scale of fees that is related to the scale of the
development, ie, larger the scheme the larger the fee. Refund the fee if scheme is unsuccessful? No to streamlining as
this would reduce stakeholders opportunities to comment. Devolve the decision making process to the local authority.
Set local targets by local authority area, limiting the no of turbines and turbine height. Set up a joint working group for
proposals close to adjoining authorities, with staff from other L.A.

Make it a requirement to hold local workshops to educate and inform local stakeholders. Publish more info leaflets for
a local leaflet drop and carry out a national public awareness campaign on climate change and the benefits of
renewable energy schemes. Place application update statements in the local press.
Crawford resident, objector 30/04/09 pm
(a) No real understanding of the process as no previous involvement.
(b) Concerned at levels of accountability and roles of stakeholders.
(c) Concerned that own personal view of major visual impact on landscape of the area would have little effect on final
(d) Consider local authority merely agrees with pro-renewable stance of Scottish government, therefore app unlikely
to be refused.

A (a) Aware of the opportunities to comment but consider it merely a PR exercise. Slick programme by applicant.
(b) Planning process is difficult to comprehend. Not really aware of how the system works.
(c) As above, complete lack of experience, not able to comprehend photomontage info.
(d) Consultation fatigue, particularly in view of the 4 years taken to reach a final decision.
(e) Totally believe that views will not be taken into account.
(f) Linked to the above a distrust of government at all levels, both local and central.
B (a) Sense that the process was geared towards approval for the proposal from the outset.

Not aware of the final decision. Unable to comment on whether justified or not.
None at all.

No, process is fundamentally flawed with a perceived presumption towards approval for most windfarm schemes.

The process could be improved by removing the final decision from the Scottish Government Ministers and having an
independent body determine the proposal. This body would be made up of local authority staff, local residents and
businesses, and other local stakeholders. Final decision would be more democratic and justified. Appropriate funding
to set up such a body, with access to local government facilities, halls etc for meetings. Leaflet drops and follow up
drops to keep locals informed of progress on applications. Greater use of local newspapers for updates.
Stallashaw Windfarm applicant, 26/05/09
(a) Not fully aware of the process at the beginning as first involvement with windfarm application.
(b) Previous involvement with planning service for other types of applications, so aware that advice from local
authority readily available. Agent made applicant fully aware of the need to carry out EIA.
(c) Recognised that informing the local population of the intended windfarm would be a good idea.
(d) Arranged a pre-app meeting with the local authority prior to submitting an application for a met mast on site.

A (a) Not much as every opportunity for locals to comment.
(b) Perhaps lack of knowledge and awareness of climate change issue.
(c) Local anti windfarm group with nimby agenda, hi-jacking the democratic process.
(d) Cynical views held by locals.
B (a) No real barriers in respect of own involvement in the process, however aware that some consultees took long of
time to respond to consult request.

Yes. No concerns. Considered proposal was justified from the outset. Disappointed that more locals didnt grasp the
positive benefits of the scheme, both locally and in terms of tackling climate change. Officer report fairly detailed and
looks to have covered all issues raised.
Yes, as applicant attended the relevant Planning Committee..

Yes, adequate as having the application determined at the local office allowed easy contact with the case officer who
was able to give regular updates.

Perhaps all apps should be determined in a similar fashion. Recognise that local authority staff have wider remit with
other applications vieing for attention. Allocation of more staff or a dedicated windfarm officer would enable a
quicker determination. Real need to make general public more aware of the seriousness of the climate change
situation. Perhaps more TV/press coverage would help.
Representative of Airtricity, Clyde Windfarm applicant, 26/05/09
(a) Personally aware of the planning process as involved in previous applications.
(b) Fully aware of the need to carry out an EIA and of the need for scoping.
(c) Also fully aware of the need to carry out stakeholder consultation as early as possible.
(d) Carried out numerous public exhibitions/meetings, including door to door sessions to gauge local opinion.

A (a) There are few barriers to stakeholder input if the process is engaged in early by all parties. Needs to be a fully 2
way process though, with due cognisance taken of local views.
(b) Lack of local expertise in assessing impacts of windfarms. No previous requirement to consider the issues.
(c) Lack of awareness of the extent to which proposal will tackle global climate change.
(d) Length of time taken to determine application a barrier.
(e) Distrust of government, at all levels and indeed a distrust of the applicant as well.
(f) Staff resources, at Energy Consent Unit and with other stakeholders.
(g) Public apathy due to lack of awareness of the climate change problem.
B(a) Process permits PLI if Local Authority objects. Shouldn't be allowed unless objecting with material planning

Yes. No concerns here at all as proposal will make a big contribution to energy targets. Local Authorities objections
were flawed. Scottish Ministers recognised this is the right scale of dev given the large scale landscape. Detailed PLI
document took all issues on board. All documents publicly available.
Yes. Made aware of the decision immediately. No issues.

Overall yes.

Lack of sufficient staff resources major problem. Needs addressed quickly. Public awareness of the problem of
climate change needs to be targeted, perhaps with press and leaflet drops? Streamling the planning process by setting
timescales for decisions and removing automatic PLI if local authority objects. Financial penalties if late decision.
National Planning Framework should prioritise need to provide significant increase in approvals for additional
windfarm schemes.
Rep of Scottish Natural Heritage, 26/05/09
(a) Fairly aware of the planning process as lots of previous involvement. Aware off all relevant legislation and role of
statutory consultees.
(b) Early involvement at scoping stage and at all stages following. No issues in respect of who does what.

A(a) A lack of simple, easy to understand information as windfarm apps can be fairly complex, with lots of issues to
(b) Quality of some baseline info questionable, for example the habitat surveys.
(c) A lack of sufficient resources, with time constraints for all.
(d) A perception among local residents that SNH is not truly impartial in its assessment of proposals as it is
government funded.
(e) Distrust of government, at every level, leading to public apathy with planning in general.

Considered both applications sufficiently justified. Detailed reports on both counts, explaining why proposals
acceptable. Position of SNH adequately reported. The level of detail in the reports also ensures decisions are
sufficiently transparent in their reasoning.
Not as such, however this is not unusual. Not an issue as most statutory consultees are aware of what decisions are
made, when planning committees are held and where info on Energy Consent Unit decisions is available.

No, the current process could be improved.

Providing greater staff resources and relevant training for both the decision making body and statutory consultees like
SNH. Local Authorities should consider appointing a dedicated windfarm planner, someone who would soon become
familiar with all the issues raised. Requirement for PLI should also be reassessed, as too much time is spent preparing
and attending such enquiries. Limiting grounds for holding a PLI should be considered. Placing an upper limit on
scale of proposals should ensure that landscape capacity issues, for example a particular areas ability to absorb large
scale windfarms is controllable. The lack of national spatial guidance, particularly on cumulative issues for windfarms
needs to be addressed. Overall there are many opportunities for stakeholder involvement at present, and we need to
ensure that the correct balance is struck in order to allow further renewable schemes to be determined quicker.
Danger is that providing too much stakeholder involvement could hinder an applicants proposal, creating additional
delays and expenditure, including attempts to tackle climate warming.
Representative of the Energy Consent Unit, 30/06/09
(a) Personally fully aware of the Sect 36 process and the full planning process as this is key role of the Energy
Consent Unit.
(b) Fully aware of the need to carry out and familiar with the content of EIAs.
(c) Aware that stakeholder involvement is important in the process and that all comments and views need to be
carefully considered prior to determination.
(d) No concerns over own participation in process as involved from the start. Sect 36 process now well established in

A (a) Complexity of the proposals. Sometimes presenting information on technical aspects can be difficult for
developers who are more familiar than general public with the content of an Environmental Statements. Simple basic
information would be better.
(b) Stakeholders may not understand techniques such as ZVI maps.
(c) Adequate expertise and resources can be a problem.
(d) Windfarms can create high levels of Nimbyism, tackling this with earlier public meetings, leaflet provision etc may
reduce such levels as many objections are submitted due to lack of information.
(e) A distrust of all levels of government, perhaps greater at national level as central government likely to be less
aware of local issues.
(f) Stakeholders may be unaware of what process application is being assessed under. This is evident as many local
authorities advise that members of the public are unaware of the existence or role of the Energy Consent Unit.
B (a) No barriers to own specific participation in the process.

Yes. Consider decision on Clyde was both transparent and justified. Substantial info available for stakeholders to
consider, particularly following the PLI.
Not relevant as Energy Consent Unit determined the Clyde proposal.

Overall the process is adequate.

Further streamlining of the process should ensure quicker decisions. This could be achieved by dismissing all
objections not made on material planning grounds. Assessing the need for a PLI as too many held due to local
authority objections. Central gov should provide greater staff resources for determining body. A public awareness
campaign on global climate change and the benefits of renewables would make the population more aware of the
problem and perhaps reduce the level of objections. Setting local/regional energy production targets may ensure
greater distribution of windfarm schemes throughout the country.

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