The development of renewable energy generation on the National Forest Estate

In 2007 FCS set up a specialist unit to look at the potential for renewable energy generation on the nfe and this resulted in the launch in 2009 of a Commercial Negotiation for both hydro and wind. For more information about the process undertaken at that time, see below.

Archive information

Wind power development opportunities: briefing paper

We used a commercial negotiation process to seek partners for the wind power development opportunity. Details of the process are in the Wind Briefing Document (PDF 1Mb)

Wind power development partners

We have worked with numerous renewable energy partners in the past to develop generation schemes, but from 2009-2011 we undertook a national commercial negotiation, from which we selected a series of development partners for Scotland. We divided Scotland into five Lots  (see map, below) and these were allocated as follows:

As part of this selection process, ScottishPower Renewables have been allocated small scale developments across Scotland.

The area boundaries are shown on the Wind Power Lots map (PDF 811k).

Hydro power development opportunities: briefing paper

We used a commercial negotiation process to seek development partners for the hydro power opportunity. Details of the process are in the Hydro briefing paper (PDF 819k)

The outcome of this was that two developers were selected to investigate further the potential for hydro developments.

Hydro power development partners

We selected two development partners for Scotland through a national procurement exercise called the Development Opportunity. We divided Scotland into three areas (see map below) and these were allocated as follows:

  • South, Central and North East Scotland: a consortium of Broadland Properties and Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon (BGC).
  • North West Scotland: Green Highland Renewables (GHR).

The Lot areas are shown on: Hydro Power Lots map (PDF 98k)

Audit Scotland Report

Audit Scotland is the statutory body set up to ensure that the Scottish Government and public sector bodies are held to account for the effective use of public funds. In February 2012, Audit Scotland carried out a report into the rationale for Forestry Commission Scotland appointing their energy developers for the renewables development opportunity. In summary, Audit Scotland found the processes carried out by the Commission to be "reasonable" and the delivery methods "robust". The full report is below:

Partnerships for Renewables (PfR)

In the Central Belt and the Scottish Borders, we had previously reached agreement with Partnerships for Renewables, an organisation set up by the Carbon Trust to develop wind power projects specifically on public land.

News releases

The following news releases were put out when the announcements were made of the agreements reached with the developers.

Planning and consents process

Developing renewables on the National Forest Estate will always be carried out in a manner sensitive to the environment. All projects will need to go through the full planning process and will be subject to environmental scrutiny.

Forestry Commission Scotland is working to develop well-designed projects in the right places.

Further potential for hydro development

The hydro developers appointed by the Development Opportunity carried out surveys on a large number of watercourses as part of their investigations.   These were largely desk-based, with no site visits involved.

Once they had decided on which hydro schemes they wished to develop, this information was supplied to FCS.

In November 2011, communities were offered an exclusive period to apply for the right to investigate for themselves the opportunity to develop their own hydro schemes on the NFE through the National Forest Land Scheme. This offer ran until 30th June 2012 and the survey information was published (Excel 143k) during the period for communities to decide whether to make an application.

This information was to be regarded as indicative and there was no suggestion in making this available on the web site that all or any of these sites were suitable for hydro development. The data was provided as received by FCS and had not been checked. Neither FCS nor any other party could be held liable for the accuracy of the information.

Around 20 groups expressed interest in many watercourses on this list, which were marked in colour. These groups will decide whether they wish to make an application to the National Forest Land Scheme to develop the renewable energy potential of the sites. A number of groups have already applied and those that had their application considered to date have all been approved.

What areas were available?

To assist Communities to know the areas available for investigation, a link was provided to the Map Viewer. This is a map-based tool that shows public information about the National Forest Estate in Scotland (with guidance on usage available at the link above).  

The inclusion of an area on the map was not to be interpreted as an indication that a renewable energy scheme could necessarily be developed. For example, before any renewable energy projects can be taken forward, detailed studies will be required, including economic and environmental appraisals, as part of initial feasibility work.

Some areas of the National Forest Estate were not available for communities to investigate. These include areas where developments are either operational, under construction or under discussion with FCS, leased areas, or those identified under the repositioning programme (for more details on that programme refer to the Property Sales page.

Within the viewer, in the layers section, there is a folder called 'Forest Renewables (Scotland)'. By opening this folder and selecting the 'Communities Hydro’ box, the areas available for investigation will be displayed.

An Expression of Interest Form (MS Word 331k) was included for completion by Community Organisations.

Further guidance, including how to register, was in Community self-development guidance (PDF 374k).

Further potential for wind development

The wind developers appointed by the Development Opportunity carried out their investigations and eventually decided on which sites they wished to develop.

In June 2012 Communities were offered an exclusive period to apply for the right to investigate for themselves the opportunity to develop their own wind schemes on the NFE through the National Forest Land Scheme. This offer ran until 31st January 2013.

14 groups expressed interest in a number of sites and these are now under consideration by FCS.

What areas were available?

To assist Communities to know the areas available for investigation, a link was provided to the Map Viewer. This is a map-based tool that shows public information about the National Forest Estate in Scotland (with guidance on usage available at the link above).  

The inclusion of an area on the map was not to be interpreted as an indication that a renewable energy scheme could necessarily be developed. For example, before any renewable energy projects can be taken forward, detailed studies will be required, including economic and environmental appraisals, as part of initial feasibility work.

Some areas of the National Forest Estate were not available for communities to investigate. These include areas where developments are either operational, under construction or under discussion with FCS, leased areas, or those identified under the repositioning programme (for more details on that programme refer to the Property Sales page.

Within the viewer, in the layers section, there is a folder called 'Forest Renewables (Scotland)'. By opening this folder and selecting the 'Communities Wind’ box, the areas available for investigation will be displayed.

An Expression of Interest Form (MS Word 331k) was included for completion by Community Organisations.

Further guidance, including how to register, was in Community self-development guidance (PDF 374k).

Further opportunities

In January 2014 an opportunity was issued for potential development partners to consider residual sites on the NFE. This was available to commercial developers and communities.

This offer was available for hydro, wind, photovoltaic and geothermal energy generation and resulted in 30 organisations being offered hydro and wind sites to investigate further. The level of interest was so great that the timeline was extended to December 2014, when final results were given to applicants.

There were no successful applications for photovoltaic or geothermal.

General advice

Although this has now been updated for both hydro and wind, FCS has retained here the documents prepared to give general advice to Communities on how to work with the selected energy developers:

A more detailed guide to community options for hydro generation schemes. This provides an overview of a 1MW hydro scheme as an example:

A more detailed guide to community options for wind generation schemes. This provides an overview of a 1.5MW and a 20 MW scheme as an example and a comparison:

Information from previous studies on renewable energy resources in relation to Scotland's National Forest Estate

FCS is placing this information on the website in case this is of general interest, but makes no warranty as to the accuracy of any of the data or conclusions contained therein or its relevance in respect of the development environment today.

Renewable lease areas

Renewable Lease Areas (PDF 41KB) contains information about the areas of the National Forest Estate that have been leased for operational wind developments, as of March 2013.