The head of Community Energy Scotland has called for more powers over Scottish energy to be devolved to Holyrood from Westminster in the ongoing ‘devo-drive’ following last month’s Independence referendum.
Following the referendum, Lord Smith of Kelvin (who is also part-time chairman of the Edinburgh-based Green Investment Bank) was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron to take forward proposals for the further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament.
Lord Smith visited Inverness yesterday as part of his ‘devo-drive’ fact-finding tour to gather evidence on the possible scope of changes which would maximise the benefit from more Scottish-based decision making.
He also met with Nicholas Gubbins, Chief Executive of Community Energy Scotland, who told him: “There is a great opportunity here for Scotland.
“Some of the UK-wide energy regulation and policy is holding back community energy projects in Scotland.
“Powers relating to the electricity market, Contracts for Difference and Feed in Tariffs need to come to Scotland. We think that this can be done in a way which preserves a UK market for energy.
‘Scotland has great renewable energy resources and great people who want to develop them for community and economic benefit.
“Insensitive UK wide polices are not ideal and are smothering many new projects which could contribute both to Scotland’s well-being and world carbon reduction targets.”
According to CES, the Scottish Government’s CARES initiative has worked well but there is still untapped potential. Community Energy Scotland would like to see the focus on renewables spearheaded by the SNP and Greens enhanced.
Gubbins added: “If we are to maximise the benefits of renewable energy to Scotland’s communities and Scotland’s economy, we need Scotland to be granted more powers over the key areas of grid, market and financial incentives, so that they better fit Scottish circumstances.
He then presented Lord Smith with a Scottish energy manifesto, which includes the following three main points:
· There should be a Scottish regulator ( ie a Committee of the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority – the governing body of OFGEM) to address specific Scottish regulatory issues (especially relating to transmission and distribution network issues and licensing of electricity suppliers) with Scottish Government oversight, but within the context of the UK market framework.
· The power to determine and set renewable energy incentive policies, levels and licences should be fully devolved, enabling Scotland’s parliament and government to apply an effective development which meets Scottish requirements.
· Westminster control of the Crown Estate in Scotland should be devolved to Holyrood.
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