Renewable Heat Action Plan for Scotland: a plan for the promotion of the use of heat from renewable sources

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SECTION 6: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS

This section will cover:

  • Environmental impacts

Background

6.1 In developing the RAP a Strategic Environmental Assessment was undertaken. This was required as the delivery of actions identified within the RAP is likely to generate significant environmental effects as defined under the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005.

6.2 An initial assessment of the RAP concluded that the Environmental Report should focus on renewable heat due to the shift in policy in this area and the introduction of a renewable heat target. The assessment has shown that the 11% renewable heat target has the potential to generate significant positive effects in relation to the climate change mitigation agenda. However, it did conclude that the emphasis on biomass as a key source of renewable heat could lead to some negative effects which could also arise at a local level.

6.3 The report proposes monitoring and mitigation measures to ensure that the benefits of the policy far outweigh its negative effects. The recommendations of this report, in conjunction with responses from the subsequent consultation, inform the following mitigation and monitoring framework outlined at Table 5 and 6.

Table 5: Mitigation measures

MITIGATION

Measure

Trigger

Responsibility

More specific guidance on appropriate abatement measures / restrictions of certain technology, or local level design guidelines to avoid adverse effects on air quality may be developed as implementation of the plan progresses.

Air quality thresholds identified in sensitive urban areas or AQMAs being breached as a result of increased use of biomass.

Scottish Government and SEPA

Development of integrated siting, planting and land management guidance to avoid adverse primary and secondary effects on biodiversity, landscape, cultural heritage, water and soils. Such guidance should avoid duplicating existing guidelines, such as the UK Forestry Standard.

None identified at this stage given the strategic nature of the RAP. Further analysis will be required to define this as more specific plans are developed as a result of the routemap.

Scottish Government, Air Quality

Table 6: Monitoring Framework

MONITORING

Measure

Frequency

Responsibility/Reporting

Evaluation of contribution of renewable heat to energy production in Scotland.

Annual

Reported as part of the Action Plan updates undertaken as a provision in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act.

Monitoring of air quality and further assessment of any issues arising from increased levels of biomass.

Continuous

Any updated guidance on air quality to be communicated to local authorities.

Review of land use change arising from increased levels of biomass feedstock production.

Review to recommend policy

Part of the provision in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act for Scottish Ministers to lay a land use strategy before parliament by 31 March 2011

6.4 The recommendations from the RAP Strategic Environmental Assessment consultation will also be summarised in a Post Adoption Statement to be published on the Scottish Government website in due course.