Scottish Enterprise – the taxpayer-funded public-sector economic development agency which has pulled out of the CBI over a conflict of interest arising from the business lobby’s anti-independence policy – last night confirmed that it paid just under £25,000 to the private-sector Scottish Renewables Ltd trade association.
Seonaid Vass, Director of Renewables and Low Carbon Technologies, Scottish Enterprise, said: “We work with Scottish Renewables in the development and promotion of Scotland’s growing renewables sector, by supporting joint activities such as key offshore wind events. These, and collaborations with other industry players, are a significant strategic driver in the delivery of a successful renewable energy sector, and our working relationship reflects this.”
However, no details were provided as to what these payments – in the last full financial year – were for.
As well as cash spent on Scottish Renewables Limited, Scottish Enterprise paid the CBI £10,000 a year in an annual ‘membership fee’.
Yesterday, two more Scottish government public sector jobs agency which provide direct and/or indirect aid to Scotland’s renewables sector – Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland – also withdrew from the CBI.
A Scottish Government spokesman added: “The fact that CBI Scotland has registered to be an official campaign organisation on behalf of the No campaign changes the nature of the organisation and raises significant issues about its role.
“This will inevitably have implications for publicly funded bodies – it would obviously be inappropriate for them to subscribe to an organisation that has the ability to spend money as a campaign organisation in the referendum, whether that is CBI or the pro-independence Business for Scotland organisation.
“While it is inappropriate for Government agencies to remain members, the Scottish Government and public agencies will continue to work, as we always have done, with the CBI and others regardless of their position in the referendum debate.”
Scottish Energy News remains committed to discovering the full facts about these issues and will report further as and when information comes to light.
Scottish Energy News has asked the Scottish Government for details of how many, and which, other Scottish higher educational bodies – such as colleges and universities, who may be actively involved in Scotland’s renewable energy sector through research, innovation, collaboration and spin-out private/ public partnerships and which are supported by taxpayers money – are members of the CBI.
As we report, above, Scottish Enterprise paid £10,000 a year to the CBI. Given the multiplicity of public sector quangoes which are directly and/or indirectly supported by the Scottish Government with taxpayer’s funds – this total could easily mount to £100,000 a year or more.
As soon as we can, Scottish Energy News will report these findings. Scottish Energy News is committed to reporting the facts on a free, independent and non-partisan basis.
Readers should be aware that they cannot rely on other trade bodies and governments – which have a vested interest in these issues – to do likewise.