Scot-Govt. seeks contractor to gauge public opinion on offshore renewable energy developments

Offshore wind turbineA commercial contract to measure public opinion on offshore renewable projects (ie wind turbines) has been announced by the Scottish Government.

As Scottish Energy News went to online-web/press last night, it was not clear what the motivation behind this public contract from the Scottish Government’s Marine Scotland division is – ie whether there is a major body of stakeholder opinion for, or against, such developments, nor what the real bone of contention to be settled is.

The timing of the contract announcement – on the eve of Scotland’s historic Independence referendum – is also unusual, unless the reason is to put it into the political ‘long-grass’ as the winner of the contract bid will not be announced until 7 October 2014, ie well after tomorrow’s referendum.

Similarly, no details on the commercial value of this contract were available. This is what the contract notice says:

“The aim of this project is to engage with the people of Scotland in areas of renewable energy potential, through a series of public dialogue sessions to explore the social impact of renewables development

“This will be a two way conversation with the people of Scotland on the social impact of offshore renewables”.

The contract will commence on 27 October 2014, with a report scheduled for delivery on 13 March 2015

In recent months, the Scot-Govt has found itself at in ‘no man’s land’ between the political lobbying-trench warfare of the renewables industry (where Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of the Scottish Renewables trade and lobbying association), is a member the Scot-Govt’s energy policy advisory board) and environmental organisations, such as the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and the John Muir Trust – which are not members of the aforesaid board.

The John Muir Trust does not operate an absolutist ‘no surrender’ objections-policy against wind farms – only against inappropriate development of wind farms in environmentally-sensitive ‘wild land’ and similarly significant areas of natural beauty and remoteness.

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