Scottish and UK energy ministers meet to discuss onshore wind subsidies

Wind farm, Whitelee, Sgurr EnergyScottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has urged the UK Government not to undermine progress on tackling climate change by cutting support for onshore wind.

His call comes as UN climate negotiations get underway in Bonn this week in advance of the global UN climate talks being held in Paris in December.

Ewing has sought clarity from the UK Government on their plans for support for onshore wind in light of reports they may be about to announce an end to the scheme.

The talks in Bonn are underway to prepare a draft global treaty on greenhouse gas emissions. The deal – which is aimed at limiting global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius – will be finalised in Paris.

This week, Ewing will speak to Energy and Climate Change Secretary of State Amber Rudd and will make the case on the importance of continued support for onshore wind in the UK and the contribution it makes as the most cost effective route to reducing carbon emissions, creating jobs and keeping the lights on across the UK.

Scottish Environment Minister Aileen McLeod has also written to Rudd to urge her to make increasing the UK’s climate change ambition a top priority.

Ewing said: “As well as being UK Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd is also UK Climate Change Secretary.

“It would be most regrettable if her first action in her new role was to slash support for clean green energy from onshore wind. As well as being entirely the wrong decision from an energy security point of view, it would also undermine the UK’s credibility in these vital UN Climate Talks – where Ms Rudd and her colleagues will be representing the UK.

“The Scottish Government remains ambitious for the renewable energy industry and the vital contribution it makes towards tackling climate change. Onshore wind is the cheapest way of producing renewable electricity in the UK and it is important we continue to support this vital industry”.

Meanwhile, Holyrood MP Joan McAlpine – a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee – added: “There is real concern that the Tories looks set to abandon vital support for renewable energy projects which bring jobs and investment to communities across Scotland and is a hugely important part of Scotland’s economy.

“The UK Government now needs to take immediate steps to ensure that Scotland’s renewable energy industry gets the support it needs and deserves to allow us to continue to invest in jobs, create clean energy and tackle climate change – and this simply must not be allowed to be put at risk thanks to this UK Government putting a priority on nuclear energy.”

Mark Wilson, director of a Hamilton-based property development company, commented: “A vocal minority simply don’t like the look of wind turbines, but everything about onshore wind makes sense – it’s clean, flexible, environmentally-friendly, and the subsidy works.

“As the environmental charity WWF Scotland has said removing the subsidy could risk undermining the development of the cheapest form of renewable energy.

“I hope UK Government does not renege on its commitment to consult with Scotland’s renewable energy industry on this important ecological and economic issue.”

* The SNP’s Westminster Energy spokesman Callum McCaig has put down an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling on the UK Government to ‘honour its commitment’ to engage in urgent talks with the Scottish Government over subsidies for new onshore wind development in Scotland.

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