As part of Scotland's ambitious renewable energy plans, which aims to provide all its electricity from renewables by 2020, the Scottish Government has pledged an important boost to renewable projects in the farming sector. While attending the major farming event in the Scottish Highlands: the Black Isle Show, Rural Affairs Minister Richard Lochhead explained the new Agri-Renewables Strategy will 'ensure that land managers can benefit from the renewables revolution and unlock the green energy potential of their land'.
Wind Turbines can, for example be installed on agricultural or grazing land and provide an extra income-stream, yet only marginally reduce the area used for food growing. Similarly production of biofuels from agricultural waste maximises the return farmers can make on their investments. Many types of renewable energy can comfortably act in synergy with agricultural activities.
The strategy has four key elements for landowners:
Mr Lochhead said, "Scotland is currently experiencing a renewables revolution and I want to see farmers, crofters and land managers working with local communities to ensure they grasp the benefits for their businesses and the nation.
"Farmers and land managers have access to our nation's abundance of natural resources, so it is no wonder they are already queuing up to grasp the opportunities presented by renewables.
"The renewables revolution offers our farmers and land-based industries the opportunity to cut energy costs, generate new income and contribute to our low carbon future. The list of benefits is endless."
The Minister noted that people were on a steep learning curve and would need to move quickly to harness the possibilities of the industry, including funding, planning, accessing electricity grid connections and choosing the best technology available.
Photo: Whitelee Wind Farm near Glasgow, operated by ScottishPower Renewables
He continued, "The Agri-Renewables Strategy will be developed in cooperation with industry representatives and will build on the Scottish Government's existing renewables activity in the agricultural sector.
"Scotland has some of the most ambitious climate change legislation in the world and there has already been a great deal of innovation within the farming sector.
"In a few years' time, I hope every farm in Scotland is benefiting from renewable energy in some shape or form. If we can make that vision reality, then that will be truly transformational." The Agri-Renewables Strategy is expected to be in place by next year.
Photos by Scottish Government and Scottish Renewables.