Trade unions to debate ‘pie-in-the-sky’ Scottish Energy Strategy at STUC conference

The Strathclyde University report commissioned by GMB Scotland
The Strathclyde University report commissioned by GMB Scotland

GMB Scotland has warned the minority SNP-led Scottish Government that meeting the Scottish energy challenges of the future – without recognising the contribution of domestic natural gas production – is ‘pie in the sky politics’.

An independent report – ‘Natural Gas in the Energy Policy of the UK and Scotland’, produced by the Centre for Energy Policy at Strathclyde University and commissioned by GMB Scotland – states the choice facing Scotland is:

“Not whether to include gas in our energy mix for the foreseeable future –  but rather where the gas will come from?’

The Centre for Energy Policy report shows that Scotland is dependent on imported gas and domestic Scottish energy consumption demands cannot be credibly met without gas.

In their conclusion, the report authors –  Karen turner and Mark Lappin from the Centre for Energy Policy – state

“The use of gas has the same impact on our climate emissions – whether it is extracted at home or abroad.

“But a shift from domestic production and extraction of Scottish gas, to importing the gas we need will have significant negative impact on jobs and revenue, as well as the skills and infrastructure base that may prove crucial in making some of the major shifts in how we produce and use energy in a future low carbon economy.”

And Gary Smith, the union’s Scottish Secretary, will raise a motion on Scottish energy jobs and security of supply today (26 Apr 2017) at the STUC annual conference in Aviemore.

The report explains that 70 per cent of UK heating is currently provided by natural gas, with 80% of households using natural gas for heating.

Natural gas has also proven to be both an affordable and reliable contributor to electricity generation relative to the other main current options of renewables and nuclear.  

The Scottish government’s own figures from the Energy in Scotland 2017 publication shows that around 1.9 million households (79 per cent of all homes in Scotland) use gas as their primary heating fuel – a 7 per cent increase over the last decade.

Gary Smith
Gary Smith

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith, said: “Against the backdrop of rising fuel poverty in Scotland, the GMB has been pressing the case for an honest debate about Scotland’s energy future, urging politicians to fully examine the cost, environmental and employment implications of winding-down domestic gas production.

“The future of affordable domestic energy in our country is at risk and the Scottish Government cannot keep dodging the tough choices we need to make if we are to meaningfully tackle fuel poverty.

“Our political elite also have to be honest about the economic and employment ramifications of abandoning gas, which powers our manufacturing base, heats our homes and employs thousands in well-paid jobs.”

“Abandoning domestic gas production makes no sense whatsoever from an economic, environmental or energy security perspective.

“The idea that we can affordably heat our homes, power our economy and sustain thousands of jobs without domestic gas production is just ‘pie in the sky’ politics and the main losers will be hard working Scots and the poorest in our society.

There is nothing just about inequality, poverty and unemployment so the Scottish Government should be focussed on how to secure our domestic gas production future as part of a genuinely balanced energy strategy that works towards a low-carbon economy.”

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