Windy messages

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has warned the UK Government that investment uncertainty created by electricity market reform is risking thousands of offshore wind jobs. Interesting if only because SNP criticism of the Energy Bill has been more muted that one would expect. He said:

“Offshore wind has reached a watershed. The industry has enormous potential, and to realise this potential it is essential that investors have confidence. The UK Government must make clear their ongoing support for offshore wind and emulate the Scottish Government’s approach by setting a 2030 electricity decarbonisation target now, not in 2016 as planned under the Energy Bill. Offshore wind has the potential to raise UK GDP by 0.8 per cent, and we must seize this prize. The opportunities the industry present us – in terms of jobs, investment, stabilizing energy bills and reducing our carbon output – are too valuable to risk.”

The Scottish Conservatives have been accused of “hypocritical posturing” for opposing wind farms when three of their MSPs together stand to profit by at least £50,000 a year from them. “This hypocrisy from the Tories is a classic case of do as I say, not as I do,” said SNP MSP Chic Brodie. “They might be vocal opponents of Scotland’s renewable energy potential in public these days, but they remain perfectly content to personally profit from wind turbines.”

Meanwhile Scottish Power Renewables’ 288MW windfarm on the border between Dumfries and Galloway and South Ayrshire has been granted planning consent by the Scottish Government. The 96-turbine Kilgallioch windfarm, which could meet the average electricity demand of 170,000 homes, will become the energy company’s second largest onshore wind project behind its 539MW Whitelee windfarm. 

This reflects ScottishPower’s commitment to renewables almost irrespective of concerns over the Energy Bill. ScottishPower’s chief corporate officer, Keith Anderson, said its UK renewable business, which is working on 35 projects, would continue its expansion. “There will be no hiatus,” he told The Herald.

However, opposition to onshore wind farms and the Scottish Government’s willingness to overturn local planning decisions has been joined by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCoS). They issued a plea after Highland Council rejected three applications for turbines to be installed in its area. David Gibson, chief officer for the MCoS, hit out at First Minister Alex Salmond’s:

“seeming willingness to allow power companies to industrialise our landscapes by building vast windfarms in highly inappropriate settings. There are real concerns that planning departments, with limited resources, are being seriously overstretched by inappropriate windfarm applications by large energy companies which are happy to industrialise Scotland’s mountains for the sake of their own profits. Scotland needs a national renewables spatial planning policy to decide what can be built where. This would stop unsuitable, speculative planning applications and protect our precious countryside while allowing green energy schemes to be developed in suitable places.”

Windy messages, but like real wind they blow in different directions!

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