Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP for the Western Isles – which is home to the highest levels of fuel-poverty in the UK – has been appointed as chairman of the Westminster parliament’s Energy Committee.
This key appointment – with fellow SNP MP Pete Wishart also taking over as chairman of Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee – follows the party’s landslide election result where it won 56 out of 59 Scottish seats.
Both candidates were the SNP’s sole nominees for the chairmanship positions.
MacNeil said: “I recognise that as chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee there will be many challenges ahead but I look forward to shaping and driving forward the work of the committee over the next five years.
“While it is a challenging time for the energy industry, it is also a very exciting time to be chairing this committee.
“Energy and Climate Change is an issue which is of great importance to my constituency Na h-Eileanan an Iar, to Scotland and to the UK as a whole.
“The committee has an important role to play in holding the Westminster Government to account, and pressing the UK’s commitments on internationally agreed renewables targets.
“The work of the committee is also dynamic and ever changing but I will strive to achieve the best possible outcome and to greatly improve the consumer’s situation.
“I will do this by working across party lines to coordinate and achieve these outcomes for the public, whose interests will be at the heart of our work.”
MacNeil also said he would like to see the previous committee’s work on the implementation of electricity market reform continued.
He added: “I believe that the committee plays a vital role in holding the UK government to account and also energy producers to ensure that consumer needs are met, as well as Government targets achieved.
“One of the most important targets the Government now faces is achieving 15% of our energy from renewables by 2020.
“The outcomes of the International Climate Change Talks in Paris in 2020 will also be vital in shaping the work of the committee, as well as the current position from the Department for Energy and Climate Change regarding onshore wind which needs further scrutiny.”
It is possible that the SNP will also seek to use its dominance on the Scottish Select Affairs Committee at Westminster as part of its political ‘guerrilla warfare’ tactics to raise non-devolved issues – such as N. Sea taxation – which directly affect Scotland.