As Scottish Energy News went to online-web/press last night, it was not clear what the motivation behind this public contract from the Scottish Government’s Marine Scotland division is – ie whether there is a major body of stakeholder opinion for, or against, such developments, nor what the real bone of contention to be settled is.
The timing of the contract announcement – on the eve of Scotland’s historic Independence referendum – is also unusual, unless the reason is to put it into the political ‘long-grass’ as the winner of the contract bid will not be announced until 7 October 2014, ie well after tomorrow’s referendum.
Similarly, no details on the commercial value of this contract were available. This is what the contract notice says:
“The aim of this project is to engage with the people of Scotland in areas of renewable energy potential, through a series of public dialogue sessions to explore the social impact of renewables development
“This will be a two way conversation with the people of Scotland on the social impact of offshore renewables”.
The contract will commence on 27 October 2014, with a report scheduled for delivery on 13 March 2015
In recent months, the Scot-Govt has found itself at in ‘no man’s land’ between the political lobbying-trench warfare of the renewables industry (where Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of the Scottish Renewables trade and lobbying association), is a member the Scot-Govt’s energy policy advisory board) and environmental organisations, such as the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and the John Muir Trust – which are not members of the aforesaid board.
The John Muir Trust does not operate an absolutist ‘no surrender’ objections-policy against wind farms – only against inappropriate development of wind farms in environmentally-sensitive ‘wild land’ and similarly significant areas of natural beauty and remoteness.