News Digest

Speeding up planning | Cala profits | green energy

Perth car solar port
New measures will help solar car parks

New measures to simplify and speed up the planning process for zero and low carbon technologies are being introduced for homeowners and businesses.

A number of proposals will no longer require a planning application under legislation being laid before parliament.

Limits on the power output of panels on non-domestic buildings will be removed, allowing business owners to install more of them without needing to apply for planning permission.

Businesses with solar canopies in their car parks will be able to use the energy they generate for purposes such as providing energy for buildings, in addition to powering electric vehicle chargers.

People who live in conservation areas, including those in cities, will be able to more easily alter or replace their windows to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. They will also be able to install solar panels on certain parts of their property without a planning application for the first time.

Planning Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “The Scottish Government wants to make it easier and cheaper for homeowners and businesses to respond to the challenges posed by the cost of living and climate crises, including by reforming how the planning system works.

Scotland policy chair of the Federation of Small Businesses Andrew McRae said: “At a time when the cost of doing business crisis is making it harder for businesses to stay afloat, measures to reduce energy costs will come as a great help for smaller firms.”

Cala profits fall

Housebuilder Cala Group saw profits in 2023 slump by 33.6% drop to £112m from £1.69m in the previous year.

Turnover also dropped, by 7.3% to £1.26 billion from £1.35 billion, while the number of home completions fell to 2,917 from 3,027.

Sales per site per week in the year to the end of December rose by 1.6%, from 0.62 to 0.63, and its revenue per site per week dropped slightly from £316,000 to £315,000.

The figures were released amid talk that owner Legal & General has hired Rothschild to line up a sale of of the Cala group, which could be valued at up to £750m.

A sale would mark the first large-scale strategic move from L&G chief executive António Simões since he took over the role from Sir Nigel Wilson on 1 January.

L&G General Capital took full ownership of Cala in 2018 when it acquired the 52.1% it did not previously own.

E&O opts for EOT

Scottish healthcare manufacturer, E & O Laboratories has moved to an Employee Ownership Trust.

Founded in 1990 by Virginia Lucey, the Bonnybridge-based company now has 70 employees in 36 countries and a turnover of £5.5 million.

Ms Lucey was introduced to the option of an EOT by her legal adviser Kerr Stirling. 

Green energy boost

Scottish Greens climate spokesperson, Mark Ruskell MSP, has hailed new Scottish Energy Statistics that show a groundbreaking 10% increase in electricity generation from renewable sources in 2023 alone.

The figures show that Scotland is generating more electricity than it is using, with record production levels in the second half of the year.

Mr Ruskell said: “This is a really big step forward for green industries and our environment. It is a tribute to the great work being done all across our country.”

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