The UK government’s announcement this week to end new support for onshore wind energy projects could cost Scotland £3bn in investment and threatens thousands of jobs, according to industry experts.
The Scottish National Party has said that Prime Minister David Cameron must explain why he misled voters during the referendum campaign in Scotland regarding the UK government’s position on renewable energy.
But in a speech in February last year Mr Cameron cited the renewables industry as a key reason for Scotland to vote No.
He said: “And together we’re stronger to lead in the industries of the future. Take green energy. We have the wind and the waves of Scotland, decades of North Sea experience in Aberdeen and, with the rest of the UK, a domestic energy market of tens of millions of people to drive and support these new industries… This is what happens when we collaborate.”
In 2011 he directly cited UK government subsidies and renewable energy saying “vital industries like green technology” in Scotland could thrive, “But it will only do that if we keep our country together.”
Labour echoed the same calls, in February 2014 Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint said green power would “grind to a halt” if Scotland voted Yes.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Mr Cameron urging him to reconsider and said the decision – announced without any consultation with the Scottish Government – goes against the spirit of the provisions in the Scotland Bill.
Rob Gibson MSP condemned the UK Government cut in support for onshore windfarms and made clear that this was the latest claim from the No campaign in last year’s referendum to be proven false.
Mr Gibson, who is a Green Energy award winner, said:
“The Tory plans announced this week are a huge threat to the renewables industry in Scotland – and represent a total betrayal towards people who were persuaded to vote No after being told that Scotland’s renewables sector was only safe if Scots rejected independence.
“Time and time again we were told by David Cameron and his Labour allies in the No camp that Scotland’s wind energy sector was benefitting by having “the best of both worlds”, but now that claim has been proven to be totally false – and the thousands of jobs are at stake.
“Scots were told our vast renewable energy potential could only be realised by UK subsidies, but now – only nine months on from the referendum – the UK government is pulling the plug on our burgeoning industry. The duplicity is totally unacceptable.
“This is just the latest example of how people were told tales in order to get them to vote No. David Cameron and his ministers repeatedly said that the UK subsidies were needed to keep Scotland’s renewables industry alive – when in fact it now transpires they were planning to scrap them all along.
“We heard misleading claims about only being safe in the European Union with a No vote – but now we face being ripped out of Europe against our will. There was the story about the NHS being safe only if we rejected a Yes vote – and now the Tories are dismantling the service in England – with the threat this poses to Scotland’s budget. And there was of course The Vow which claimed Scotland would gain maximum powers and lead the UK if we voted No – but the Scotland Bill making its way through Parliament falls far short of this.
“The Tories have a long and grim track record ruining key industries in Scotland – but unlike the 1980s the SNP has now got 56 MPs at Westminster and Scots have a devolved government so we will fight tooth and nail to reverse this decision.”
David Cameron backs report warning of rising energy bills in independent Scotlandhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/8869455/David-Cameron-backs-report-warning-of-rising-energy-bills-in-independent-Scotland.html
David Cameron speech, February 2014 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-importance-of-scotland-to-the-uk-david-camerons-speech
Early end of onshore wind support could cost £3bn investment in Scotlandhttp://www.scottishrenewables.com/news/early-end-onshore-wind-support-could-cost-3bn-inve/
Labour claimed that independence would harm investment in renewables and energy bills would go up:
Labour’s Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint said: “Independence would mean losing the British renewable subsidy, threatening investment and raising the cost to consumers or taxpayers.” (The Herald, 05/02/2013)
She also told BBC Scotland’s GMS “were to have less windy days then it would look to the rest of the UK to keep the lights on”.