Planning Conference 2023 Programme


Registration & Networking


Leaders Debate: The Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan - what are the implications for planning?

The Climate Change Committee is unequivocal that for net-zero to be achieved there needs to be a strategic plan to accelerate the pace of change.

The policy vacuum that followed the declaration of net-zero is beginning to fill with the Energy Strategy & Just Transition Plan out for consultation, the Onshore Wind Policy Statement published and the approval of National Planning Framework 4. Work is also underway to review the Sectoral Plan for Offshore Wind and prepare Scotland’s second National Marine Plan.

In this session, our panel of leading experts will cast a critical eye over these latest policy developments and examine their value in supporting the levels of renewable energy deployment net-zero will require.

In this session you’ll learn:

  • Leading experts’ assessment of the credibility of The Scottish Government’s energy plans
  • How the policy environment is changing - and how this will impact on renewables businesses
  • About developers’ willingness to progress projects in a new planning ecosystem.

Chair and Opening Remarks
Morag Watson, Director of Policy, Scottish Renewables

Barry Carruthers, Managing Director, Onshore UK & Ireland, ScottishPower Renewables
Lesley McNeil, Head of Communications & Communities, Muirhall Energy
Kirsty MacArthur, Director & Co-Owner, MacArthur Green
Andy Sloan, Project Development Director, Low Carbon


Networking Break


The thorny issue of consenting timelines

The Climate Change Committee’s message is crystal clear – we need to do more and do it faster. If we are to achieve our renewable energy ambitions, the planning system must deliver more consents, more quickly.

As planning changes to meet the challenge of net-zero, key questions remain around the options for shortening timelines, what good looks like and where we can access good practice to learn from.

In this session you’ll learn:

  • The experts’ views on the potential for shortening planning timelines
  • Why gung-ho isn’t best: the need for caution to avoid unintended consequences
  • Good practice principles which can shorten planning timelines

Gary McGovern, Planning & Environment Partner, Pinsent Masons

Mary Fisher, Partner - Landscape Planner & Expert Witness, Abseline
Marcus Trinick KC
Ruth Findlay, Head of Energy Consents Unit, The Scottish Government
Scott Ferrie, Chief Reporter, Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA), The Scottish Government


Networking Lunch


National Planning Framework 4 - game changer or just hot air?

The past 12 months have been a rollercoaster ride for planning policy, from the lows of the March consultation to the highs of the final draft passed by Parliament in December.

On paper, the NPF4 is looking good for the renewable energy industry and promises the supportive planning system we need to get our projects consented.

In this session, our expert panel share their views on the impact they expect the NPF4 will have and how the NPF4 is playing out in practice for renewable energy projects currently in the planning system.

In this session you’ll learn:

  • The key changes the NPF4 will bring and their implications for renewable energy project development
  • How the NPF4 is impacting project consenting and planning attrition rates
  • How industry can optimise applications to maximise planning success

Neil Collar, Head of Planning Law, Brodies LLP

Tony Rose, Director of Strategy, Place & Economy, Scottish Futures Trust 
Euan Hutchison, Consenting Associate Director, Locogen
Carolyn Wilson, Onshore Consents Team Manager, SSE Renewables
Cara Davidson, Head of Energy and Environment: Planning, Architecture & Regeneration Division, The Scottish Government


Networking Break


A landscape for net-zero - tiny tremors or a seismic shift?

While there are reasons for optimism, the persistent problems of the availability of viable sites, visual impact, grid infrastructure and the coordination of onshore and offshore planning still cast their shadow over industry’s deployment ambitions.

With the NPF4 and the Onshore Wind Policy Statement bringing changes to wild land policy and indicating an acceptance of modern, taller turbines, things are beginning to shift - but more is needed.

In this session, our expert panel share their views on the missing pieces of the puzzle and where industry needs to go next to complete the picture.

 In this session you’ll learn:

  • The significance of the changes in wild land for site availability
  • The policy changes affecting grid enhancement and their likely impact on network availability
  • The current state of onshore/offshore planning integration
  • How policy around modern, taller turbines is playing out in practice

Chair and Closing Remarks
Mark Richardson, Senior Policy Manager - Onshore Wind & Consenting, Scottish Renewables

Rory Carmichael, Development Project Manager, EDF Renewables
Richard Baldwin, Head of Consents & Environment, SSEN Transmission
Alison Sidgwick, Director of Onshore Planning & Environment, Natural Power
Alasdair Sutherland, Partner and Solicitor Advocate - Head of Planning & Environment, Burness Paull


Event close

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