Planning Minister Kevin Stewart has admitted there are no national planning policies to guide the siting of new gas peaking plants, following Fife Council’s consideration of two planning applications in a week for gas plants at Inverkeithing and Hillend.
The Minister was responding to questions from Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Mark Ruskell, who has said we need an urgent review of planning guidance so that councils can tackle the climate emergency.
Earlier this week Fife Council rejected an appeal for a gas peaking plant at Hillend, however last week councillors approved a similar plant just a kilometre away at Inverkeithing. Both plants would produce under 50 megawatts of energy, the limit at which applications for new power stations are decided by the Scottish Government.
Speaking after the exchange in the Scottish Parliament, Green MSP Mark Ruskell said, “It’s quite shocking to hear the minister confirm what campaigners had suspected all along – that there’s no national strategy for where to put new energy plants, allowing a free-for-all amongst developers right now who are putting in speculative applications for gas plants all across the country.
"Fife Council declared a climate emergency last year, but they don’t have enough powers or guidance to act on that when it comes to planning. They should be able to reject applications for new fossil fuel plants outright on the basis of the damaging climate change emissions they produce, but at the four hour appeals meeting on Monday climate change wasn’t mentioned once.
"I’m delighted the community in Hillend won their fight against the latest gas plant on Monday, but this certainly won’t be the last application we see in Fife. The upcoming review of the National Planning Framework needs to prioritise addressing the climate emergency and come up for a proper plan on how we end fossil fuels in Scotland.”