Tory in-fighting over British Independence from the EU-bloc is putting energy cooperation with our North Sea neighbours at risk – despite Scotland having the greatest offshore energy resource of any European country, the SNP have claimed today.
Committing to a political declaration and action-plan earlier this week, nine EU countries in the North Sea region pledged to work together to create good conditions for the development of offshore wind energy and create a sustainable, secure and affordable supply for the future.
But despite a commitment from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, the UK has failed to sign up to any deal – which the SNP says ‘squanders potential opportunities for the renewables sector, economic growth and action on tackling climate change’.
The SNP said Tory infighting over the EU in leaving Scotland’s interests sidelined in this EU-led partnership while UK government energy ministers are at loggerheads on opposing sides of the British Independence referendum debate.
British energy secretary Amber Rudd – who wants the UK to remain in the EU-bloc -will go head to head with her own deputy Andrea Leadsom, who is a strong supporter of British Independence – in a TV debate on the referendum.
SNP MSP Fiona Hyslop said: “We’re fortunate in Scotland to have a huge amount of offshore energy potential – and we should be looking to collaborate in shared, mutual interest with our North Sea neighbours.
“But while key powers over energy strategy and cooperation remain at Westminster, we rely on UK ministers acting in Scotland’s best interests. This week we see a prime example of those interests being side-lined while Tory ministers in the same department fight among themselves over Europe.
“While nine North Sea nations are looking outwards seeking common cause over shared opportunities, discord within the Tory ranks is holding Scotland back.
“One of the huge advantages of the European Union as the world’s largest single market is in creating jobs and investment in Scotland and addressing shared challenges on energy and tackling climate change – and serious questions have to be asked of the UK government in putting opportunities at risk for the sake of internal squabbling within the Tory party.”
The SNP’s energy spokesperson at Westminster, MP Callum McCaig added: “Successive UK governments since the 1970s have mis-managed and squandered the huge income generated from the North Sea.”