The ‘uncertainties’ for energy companies operating in the North Sea oil and gas sector which may arise on Scotland’s prospective independence are nothing compared to the many and multiple uncertainties in UK taxation created by the UK Chancellor George Osborne.
That was the key message from the SNP’s Mike Mackenzie, MSP for the Highlands and Islands in his keynote speech at the inaugural Energy North Conference 2014 in Inverness yesterday.
He was referring to the controversial intervention in Scotland’s independence debate following a comment by the chief executive of BP that independence would create ‘uncertainty’ for his oil company.
The MSP told more than 100 delegates at the Energy North conference; “ Scotland’s oil and gas industry has been hobbled by dozens of different tax regimes laid out in successive budgets by UK chancellors and the last one (by George Osborne) was the one that broke the camel’s back.
“Only a major u-turn by the UK treasury has opened the floodgates to another £13.5 billion investment in North Sea oil and gas – but this kind of tax and fiscal uncertainty will not allow the oil and gas sector in the UK to flourish in the long run.
In contrast, he said, an independent Scotland under an SNP government would be committed to a ‘no change’ policy in oil and gas taxation. “We are all about securing a stable fiscal regime for North Sea oil and gas” he said and “if there were to be any subsequent changes, they would only be carried out following full consultation with the oil and gas industry.”
Mackenzie also criticised the UK Dept of Energy (DECC) for ‘taking far too long’ to make investment decisions on renewable energy projects.
- Mike MacKenzie MSP
Notwithstanding this, he said Scotland’s w-industry sector (renewables) has the potential to create 10,000 new jobs by 2030 and, consequently, move the ‘peripheral’ Highlands and Islands to become the ‘economic power house of a future Scotland’.
“Scotland is pioneering renewables energy technology and potentially has the opportunity to export this technological know-how around the world,’ he added.