Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse is seeking ‘urgent’ talks with the UK Government following Prime Minister May’s decision to axe the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall.
The decision to scrap DECC as a standalone department and merge it into a combined Dept for Business, Energy and Industry has now led to concerns about the Prime Minister’s commitment to tackling climate change and support for renewable energy.
The Scottish Government was already working to safeguard investment in vital renewable energy projects amidst the uncertainty created by the vote in favour of British Independence from the EU-bloc.
Wheelhouse said: “The First Minister has already raised the issue of the decision to axe DECC directly with the new Prime Minister, but I want to take that dialogue further and am seeking urgent talks with UK ministers to outline our concerns.
“We’ll also be seeking assurances that the UK Government will back our efforts to create jobs and maximise benefits from the renewable energy sector, secure electricity supplies for everyone in these islands, and cut carbon emissions.”
Ministers want to secure UK Government support for pumped storage hydro schemes, onshore and offshore wind, as well as inter-connectors between Scotland’s island communities.
Scotland has met its ambitious climate change targets six years early and the Scot-Govt. aims to introduce a new climate change bill which will set a target to reduce emissions by more than 50% by 2020.
The Scottish Government will continue to operate a single Energy and Climate Change Directorate.
Meanwhile, Wheelhouse also intends to raise the oil and gas sector – which will remain of critical importance to Scotland during its transition to a low carbon economy – in context of the abolition of DECC.
He added: “In addition to raising concerns about the UK Government’s climate change ambitions, the move to scrap DECC has also raised questions about what it means in terms of Westminster’s attitude to the North Sea oil and gas industry.
“The sector is attempting to recover from one of its most difficult ever periods, and needs assurances that the UK Government is serious about doing all that it can to support the industry and the jobs it supports.”
Meanwhile, the Solar Trade Association is also concerned at the closure of DECC.
While welcoming the appointment of Greg Clarke, MP, as the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Paul Barwell, STA Chief Executive, said: “It is a great shame that a department directly focused on the critical issues of energy and climate change is to close.
“However, a joined up business, industrial strategy and energy approach could provide huge opportunities for solar in the UK, as can be seen in many countries across the world.”