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Looking Back and Thinking Forward on the Onshore Wind Conference and Sector Deal

Reflecting back on the Onshore Wind Conference at the end of September I walked away optimistic and revitalised that we can work together as an industry to get our projects over the line and into operation quicker than ever before. But is there an opportunity for interindustry collaboration between technology types? Can we replicate this successful model with our friends and colleagues to the South? If key experts, developers, policymakers, and supply chain can come together to agree a way forward for this industry, what’s to stop us sharing the burden of ports, grid, and delivery infrastructure with our offshore wind friends and elsewhere? A problem shared is, after all, a problem halved.

RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables Onshore Wind Conference, Edinburgh

All eyes were on Scotland at the RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables Onshore Wind Conference on 21st September, as leaders discussed new policies and practices to ensure sustainable developments could progress through the planning system in a quicker manner in our national effort to reduce carbon emissions and meet our net zero target.

The Onshore Wind Sector Deal

Scotland’s Onshore Wind Sector Deal was signed at the conference. The Deal outlines the measures required to ensure Scotland can achieve its target of 20GW of onshore wind by 2030, focussing on working together as industry to create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and ensure we are working with the local community to present projects that balance the needs for onshore wind and the impacts on the land use/environment. On the signing of the Onshore Sector Deal, Neil Gray MSP stated it demonstrated “we are collectively committed” and that the deal “aligns with the principles of a just transition”. The goal of the deal is to reduce barriers to consent, delivery and in addition, increase the number of skilled and experienced staff for the 2030 ambitions (by establishing working groups and publishing a paper to identify the skills needed).

The collaboration model

James Robottom, Head of Policy at RenewableUK, took the time to discuss his goal of taking the lessons learned from the onshore sector deal could be replicated in England and Wales.; “a well-resourced and efficient planning system is needed in every part of the UK to enable new projects to go ahead where they have local support”. Earlier that day he had led a community engagement discussion on the key benefits of being a “good neighbour” and ensure a just transition.

Boosting biodiversity

Nicholas Wright, Technical Director – Onshore Renewables Biodiversity Lead, ERM, announced the Scottish Government’s adoption of the Defra matrix for calculating the Biodiversity Net Gain - a move that hopes to standardise the approach of quantifying the impact of developments on biodiversity. Rebecca Rylott, Landscape Architect & Urban Designer Technical Director, WSP, highlighted that the mission is to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and restore it by 2045 stating there was an “opportunity to positively design and manage biodiversity landscapes”.

Planning reform

Marcus Trinick KC appealed to developers to help meet the new planning deadlines (12 months for repowering and new sites and 24 months for a public inquiry) by producing “good quality applications, ready to review from day one”. He recalled the applications of the past being half the size of today and suggested one bottleneck in resource could be reduced if developers and consultants started streamlining the process by focusing on the main issues.

Looking ahead

After a day of engaging panel discussions, networking with industry peers and exchanging lessons learnt, there was a real shared excitement at how we as an industry can tackle this transition together, in a more sustainable, more inclusive way, with a focus on community relationships, enhanced biodiversity, all undertaken quicker than ever before. 


About the author

Laura Petrie is a senior project manager at Galileo, with over a decade’s experience in the renewable industry, with previous roles as construction project manager, sales contract manager and development project management.

She has been responsible for the construction of over 25 wind farms in the UK and applied to the shadow board to make a deeper impact in the industry in balancing diversity, quick-paced industry wins and meeting and being inspired by like-minded peers.

About the Shadow Board

In addition to the main Board, RenewableUK has set up a Shadow Board to provide a wider range of views on key issues to Board Members. They provide valuable insights and fresh perspectives. RenewableUK provides this opportunity to Shadow Board members to help develop their careers.

The Shadow Board Members represent companies from every part of the renewable energy sector. It brings expertise across a broad range of areas such as: project development, digitalisation, project management, investment, asset management, business development, supply chain development, policy and public affairs.



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