Wind and hydro energy generation on the National Forest Estate

We're working with commercial and community partners to realise the renewable energy potential of Scotland’s National Forest Estate – primarily through wind and hydro power generation schemes.

Our aim is to develop well-designed projects, in appropriate locations, that achieve a reasonable and sustainable balance with our other objectives.

A number of developments are already operational, while others are in the planning and consultation process. We are also continuing to assess the estate for further development opportunities.

By 2020, we aim to have installed around 1.15GW of wind energy capacity and about 50MW of hydro energy capacity on the estate.

Assessing development potential

Commercial developers and communities have been offered opportunities on the National Forest Estate to assess potential for development. Surveys are carried out to evaluate the viability of a site based on constraints such as soils, steepness, vegetation, visibility, aviation, telecommunications links and accessibility.

Once a suitable site is found, the planning and consent process begins.

Planning and consent process

Renewable energy developments need to be sensitive to the environment. All projects go through a well-established planning and consent process and are subject to environmental scrutiny.

The process considers the potential impact of wind farms and hydro schemes on landscapes, local communities and habitats – as well as other factors such as interaction with aviation radar.

Local communities, neighbouring landowners and statutory organisations (such as Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Planning Authorities) are consulted as part of this process.

In addition, we operate under the Scottish Government Woodland Removal Policy, which requires compensatory planting for areas of woodland that are felled and cannot be replanted because of renewable energy developments. The Policy is available as well as Guidance to FCS staff on implementing it

Operational and pending developments

Renewable energy schemes on the National Forest Estate - October 2017 (PDF 220KB) lists the wind and hydro developments on the National Forest Estate. The list includes developments that are operational, those that have been granted planning permission and are awaiting construction, and those that are working their way through the planning process.

This list is updated quarterly and the locations of these developments can also be viewed on the Map Viewer.

Good practice in wind farm construction

A joint working group involving Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Renewables, SNH, SEPA and representatives from the wind industry have published guidance on good practice during wind farm construction. The guidance focuses on pollution prevention, nature conservation, landscape, hydrological and related issues.