OREF Open Meeting, 10th January 2017: Consultathon

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OREF Thrives on Consultathon Challenge

Due to an unprecedented cluster of consultations, OREF dedicated its first meeting of the year, to discussing appropriate responses to the various questions being posed.

The first of these related to Supplementary Planning Guidance for energy issues. Neil Kermode led the discussion based on his analysis of the proposals.  The conclusions drawn were that there were many useful elements to the proposed planning guidance but there were also some recurrent policy mantras that, from OREF’s point of view, were misguided or out of date.  For example, these included topics such as timescales for planning permission for household generators, the blanket protection of the National Scenic Areas and the Buffer Zone around the World Heritage Site.

The second consultation was about the National Infrastructure Plan where again Neil Kermode had produced a comprehensive response. Members and attendees were encouraged to consider their own feedback on the issues raised and to respond directly to the consultation.

The third consultation concerned the latest SPA designations around Orkney. Gareth Davies led a discussion around whether there was a need for such extra designations in the first place, how these designations related to existing protection mechanisms for the species involved, whether the data used to identify the areas for protection was valid and whether the boundaries around the identified populations of interest were appropriate.

The forth consultation concerned the UK Government’s position on not providing island specific CfDs for onshore wind developments. The various arguments that could be put forward to challenge this position were discussed and will inform OREF’s response to the UK Government.

Finally, attendees were introduced to the suggested format for a Sustainable Energy Strategy for Orkney and were invited to suggest topics that should inform and be addressed in that strategy.

Despite the daunting numbers of documents considered, feedback from attendees were that they found the meeting both interesting and useful and there was a universal support for making sure that OREF’s voice was heard through these consultations.

OREF’s responses to these consultations will be published on the OREF website in due course.