Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has called on the UK Government to fulfil the commitment made in its Queen’s Speech and consult with the Scottish Government before any decisions are taken to axe windfarm subsidies.
Ewing said that the UK’s Department of Energy (DECC) must also consult with the energy industry given the importance of the pipeline of planned investment in helping ensure energy security and keep the lights on across the UK at a time of increasingly tight margins between electricity demand and supply.
Sturgeon’s squadron of new SNP MPs prevents Cameron from axing UK onshore wind farm subsidies (for now) – Scottish Energy News (28 May 2015) – http://goo.gl/0RpxVd
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Ewing has written to the British energy minister Amber Rudd, MP, in light of speculative reports that the UK Government will ‘shortly’ announce the end of onshore subsidies. He said:
“I welcome the commitment in the Queen’s Speech that there will be consultation with the Devolved Administrations on changes to subsidies for onshore wind farms and I look forward to that consultation.
“However I am concerned about recent statements coming from your department relating to proposed changes in support for renewable energy.
“Any lack of clarity has the potential to stall a very substantial pipeline of investment in the UK and Scotland and dent the UK and Scotland’s reputation with developers and investors.
“We have not received any information from your Department on the possible options you are considering or what analysis has been done to assess the impact on projects in Scotland.
“Given the importance of the renewables sector to Scotland and prior commitments to consult, I would appreciate your reassurance that you will not make any changes to the subsidy arrangements for onshore wind without agreement from Scottish Ministers.
“Furthermore and given the obvious disquiet within the sector I strongly urge that your Department engage with businesses involved in the sector and their trade bodies – both to give them reassurance that any changes to the subsidy regime are being taken forward in a considered and planned way, but also to ensure that your Department retains good faith with these businesses and organisations who are integral to the future energy security of both the UK and Scotland.”
The move was welcomed by the chief of a Scottish renewables company. Paul McCullagh, Chief Executive of Glasgow-based UrbanWind, (left) said: “We have been very concerned about the instability in the onshore wind industry since the General Election last month.
“We welcome the announcement by Fergus Ewing that the SNP will fight to protect onshore wind subsidies in Scotland.
“It demonstrates that the SNP realise the real value of wind energy and are prepared to support the industry and enable it to flourish.
“The lack of a clear decision on onshore wind subsidies is very damaging and clarity is needed on this. We are also very concerned that DECC aren’t consulting widely enough within the industry and at a national level in Scotland.
“Over half of windfarms currently being developed are in Scotland and the Government must consult with the Scottish parliament before making their decision.
“It is essential that the Prime Minister recognises the key role onshore wind plays in reducing the UK’s carbon footprint and to both the Scottish and UK Economy and moves to protect subsidies in England and Wales as well.”