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April 6, 2011

Small window of big opportunity

The Forestry Commission (FCS) own roughly 7% of Scotland’s land mass.  A couple of years ago, FCS began to explore the potential for generating renewable energy on its land – wind and hydro – and invited private developers to work up proposals.  At the time, communities weren’t considered as potential developers.   But now, and very late in the day, it seems there has been a change of heart. Expressions of interest from community groups are being invited and there’s little time to waste

Communities across Scotland are being urged to get involved in forest renewables and make the most of opportunities currently available with the Forestry Commission Scotland. Forestry Commission Scotland has given selected developers the right to develop wind and hydro sites on the National Forest Estate. There may now be a chance for communities to set up their own renewable projects on forestry land or to ‘buy in’ to the developers’ schemes.

Community Energy Scotland, the Community Woodlands Association, the Development Trusts Association Scotland and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations are urging communities with an interest in developing a renewable scheme to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) for their closest National Forest Estate as soon as possible. This can be done by emailing the Forestry Commission at – EoI forms are available from Community Energy Scotland.

Jamie Adam, CES Development Officer for Central Scotland said, “There is an exciting opportunity for community groups to get involved in developing wind and hydro on Forestry land, to generate an income for the community and to help reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions. But the window of opportunity is very narrow, and there is a risk that if communities don’t move quickly, all the best sites could be lost to the commercial developers. Communities can get free advice and a form to submit an Expression of Interest from their local Community Energy Scotland Development Officer.”

There are a number of deadlines for communities to get involved. However those groups in the north of Scotland who are looking to take part in hydro schemes only have until mid-April to submit an Expression of Interest. After these deadlines the opportunities for wholly owned community schemes will be very limited or at risk and the opportunities to ‘buy in’ to the developers schemes might be reduced.