SNP accuse British energy minister of ‘sneaking in’ new rules that put £140m of UK biomass power investment at risk

The biomass boiler at Aviemore medical centre
The biomass boiler at Aviemore medical centre

The SNP have condemned proposed changes to the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme regulations after the UK Government failed to bring then to debate in Parliament.

North East MPs Alex Salmond and Callum McCaig have directly criticised the Secretary Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for proceeding to implement cuts that will affect all Biomass plants that use less than 20% of their fuel for electricity production.

Industry representatives have already spoken out against the move, saying over £140 million has been put at risk because of the decision. The planned cut will be made by amending the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme regulations.

A spokesman for the Renewable Energy Association, said: “Despite the Govt. amendment claiming ‘no impact on the private or voluntary sectors is foreseen’, the abrupt cut in support significantly impacts the biomass CHP industry. It is the suddenness and the lack of consultation that is the core issue here.

“Over £140 million worth of investment is affected by this change, with a planned renewable energy capacity totalling 203MW heat and 20MW power.”

McCaig, the SNP Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson in the Westminster parliament, has written to Greg Clark urging the Secretary to do the “democratic thing” and bring the issue to the House of Commons to debate the impact of the change to the renewable heat industry.

Callum McCaig, MP
Callum McCaig, MP

The MP for Aberdeen South, said: “I find it hard to believe the Secretary of State for Energy would be completely naive to the consequences this cut is likely to have on investment in renewables projects, and the damning impact it will have on investor confidence in them.

“The UK Government are sneaking a cut to the Biomass CHP tariff  via an amendment to the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme Regulations, which means people across this country may find themselves adversely affected by something their elected representatives had no opportunity to debate on.

“Low-carbon technology is something we should be encouraging and assisting, not just for the environmental benefits but for the planning long-term, cheaper energy sources for consumers.

 “The renewables industry is key to our long-term energy production and as such it requires a long-term stable regulatory and tariff framework – not cuts sneaked in through the political backdoor at Westminster.

Alex Salmond said: “This is the latest example of the Tory’s complete lack of interest in our renewable energy sector. First, they scrapped the renewable energy grant and now they have tried to sneak in this change to the Heat Incentive Scheme through the back door and under our noses.

“It is one thing to propose a change to support for renewables. It is quite another to bring the implementation date forward without warning and without even a Parliamentary debate on the consequences.

“With the current downturn in the oil and gas sector, it is vital that we create more energy strings to our bow. One way to do this is to ensure that our renewable energy sector is properly incentivised.

“It is high time the UK Government realised just how important schemes like these are to the people of the North East.”


Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed