MSP Nicola Sturgeon – leader of the Scottish National Party leader and First Minister of Scotland – has laid out the party’s energy policies in its newly-published manifesto for the Westminster general election on 7 May.
The SNP make clear that the party will continue to the the influence of SNP MPs at Westminster to ensure that promises made during last year’s Scottish Independence referendum are delivered.
Sturgeon said: We will demand, firstly, that the proposals of the Smith Commission are delivered quickly and in full. We believe that these proposals do not go far enough to honour the promises made during the referendum.
“And we will seek agreement that the Scottish Parliament should move to full financial responsibility.”
This means that the ultimate political goal for the SNP – short of Independence – would be for the Scottish Parliament to have full tax-raising powers – including receipts from North Sea oil and gas (a policy which the most recent polls show is supported by more than 2 in 3 Scots).
The manifesto also contains the following key pledges: –
Energy bills / fuel poverty We will support lower energy bills for consumers by pushing for the Energy Company Obligation to be funded through general taxation and not as a levy on energy bills. We will also support new powers to make sure that energy companies pass on the benefits of lower prices to consumers.
Reform of OFGEM grid-connection charges: We will also press for a change to the transmission charging system that is penalising Scottish generators and threatening the future of Longannet power station.
Energy sector employment: For workers in the oil & gas sector – we will keep the pressure on the UK Treasury to do all it can to protect jobs and investment in the oil and gas industry in light of lower global oil prices and will work to increase internationalisation opportunities for Scotland’s oil and gas industry.
Renewables: The additional investment we seek should include investment in our energy infrastructure so we can continue to maximise renewables generation, in particular offshore.
Current Westminster plans put at risk the creation of a strong domestic renewables industry, including a sustainable supply chain, and threaten Scotland’s security of supply.
We will, for example, press for further progress and a clear timescale for the delivery of the Islands interconnector.
We will seek to maximise support for offshore wind, including by seeking alterations to the current Contracts for Differences (CFD) regime to ensure that support is given to the offshore wind sector to not only generate renewable energy but also to boost manufacturing opportunities and ensure Scotland sees maximum investment.
Allocations from the next round of CFD should be made early and projects in Scotland should be prioritised and receive their fair share of funding. We want to see a long-term commitment to the development of this industry.
We will continue to argue for changes to ensure that Scottish renewables, and Scotland’s islands, are not penalised because of their distance from markets in the south of England. We believe that transmission arrangements should work to support, rather than undermine, production of renewable energy in the most favourable locations.
And we will press for onshore wind to continue to receive support through the lifetime of the next Parliament.
Our ambition is not limited to wind.
We want the UK government to remove barriers that are limiting growth in the hydro sector and believe there should be additional support for pump hydro and Carbon Capture and Storage schemes.
Community energy: We also wish to see a big expansion in community heating schemes and believe the Renewable Heat Incentive should continue beyond 2015.
The Scottish Government has ambitious targets to support community energy generation and we will press the UK government to make it simpler for communities to establish local energy companies and easier to establish local energy companies and easier for community schemes to access the grid.
We are also working to support increased community ownership of local energy projects, for example, through our £20 million local energy challenge fund. This fund provides support for projects from community groups, local councils and housing associations, among others, with the aim of delivering 500MW of locally owned renewable generation by 2020.
Our ambition is to achieve even more and we will explore ways of increasing support for community generation.
Climate-change: As part of our focus on meeting our climate change targets and promoting sustainable economic growth, we will support businesses, the third sector and public sector organisations working to boost productivity by using energy, materials and water more efficiently, so we can build a more resource efficient Scotland.
This includes work to stimulate remanufacturing networks and supply chains through the Scottish Institute of Remanufacturing, one of only four international centres of excellence.
As the Scottish Government, we are consulting on measures to reduce emissions in Scotland, including looking at the creation of Low Emission Zones. We will continue to develop our zero waste strategy, supporting a range of initiatives, for example the ongoing pilot project for reverse vending machines to encourage rewards for recycling.