Scotland’s First Minister calls for Cameron U-turn on UK renewable energy subsidies

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Downing StreetNicola Sturgeon has today called on Prime Minister David Cameron to do a UK government U-turn and re-instate subsidies for Britain’s renewable energy industry.

Yesterday, UK Energy Minister Amber Rudd set out in detail the government’s plans to cut w-industry subsidies for renewable energy.

But as the vast majority – 70% of UK commercial wind farm power projects are in Scotland – the crisis looming over the renewables industry will cut furthest, deepest and longest in Sturgeon’s ‘patch’.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said renewable energy companies which had spent millions of pounds planning new wind farms in Scotland should still be allowed to qualify for UK Treasury subsidies.

She quoted the CBI, which has urged a grace period for developers whose plans are already in the planning system and warned that the subsidy cuts were undermining the UK’s claims to be a world leader on climate change.

She told Cameron: “Given your party has traditionally prided itself on being supportive of business, it is concerning that you are taking such an anti-business approach on this issue.”

In her letter to the Prime Minister, Sturgeon said: “I wish to stress my concern about the implications of the policy for this year’s crucial UN (climate) talks in Paris. So far this year you have spoken out on climate change, pledging ‘to accelerate the transition to a competitive, energy efficient low carbon economy’.

“You also said ‘It is in our national interest to act and ensure others act with us’, and you have also spoken of the need to get the private sector involved.

“However, your government’s decision to cut planned support for renewable energy sets an extremely bad example to other countries, will put at risk Scotland’s renewable energy targets, and also runs counter to your manifesto commitment to cut emissions as cost-effectively as possible.”

She also warned that – with the threat of power shortages on the horizon – ‘this is not a good time to be cutting investment in energy.’

Hector Grant, Scottish Energy Association
Hector Grant

Hector Grant, Chief Executive, Scottish Energy Association, commented: “The First Minister’s letter to the Prime Minister supports what many of our members and others who represent the whole energy supply chain would like to see, a phased period for developments which are already in the planning system.

“This gives them a bit more time to properly plan what they need to do to fill the eventual vacuum created by the withdrawal of current incentives.

See also

Govt. publishes Rudd’s new rules to control the cost of renewable energy by reducing subsidies

Scottish Energy Minister and Scottish Energy Association voice fears for 5,000 jobs in Scottish renewables

Dr Richard Dixon, Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The First Minister’s welcome intervention makes the sensible suggestion that windfarms already in the planning system should be allowed to get UK Government support if they get planning permission. 

“This proposal would safeguard jobs and many millions of pounds of investment, as well as help reduce future climate change emissions.  We hope the Prime Minister is listening.

“Scotland has an energy policy based on a transition to clean, green energy but this puts us in conflict with the UK Government’s anti-renewables, pro-nuclear, pro-fracking plans. 

“There is no reason that subsidy policies could not be different north and south of the border to acknowledge the different resources and priorities in Scotland. 

“Funding renewables in Scotland is much better for money than funding nuclear in England. “The UK Government says it wants to be a leader at the Paris climate talks at the end of the year.  It is very hard to see how this claim can have a shred of credibility when they continue to slash investment in green energy.”

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