SNP Leader Alex Salmond has placed renewables at the top of the election campaign agenda and pledged to use green energy to “re-industrialise” Scotland with at least 130,000 jobs in the low carbon economy by 2020.
In a budget response broadcast Mr Salmond pledged that if re-elected as First Minister he would ensure that Scotland enjoys “the full benefits of our vast renewable energy wealth”.
In the broadcast, recorded in South Queensferry with the famous Forth Bridge as a backdrop, Mr Salmond insisted that investment was key to escaping recession and praised the vision of the former Secretary of State for Scotland Tom Johnston who had brought green energy to Scotland long before it became fashionable.
“History shows us that the best way to get out of recession is to invest. After World War Two, one of my predecessors had a vision. Tom Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland and passionate Home Ruler brought power to the glens by investing in hydro schemes. It transformed the Highlands and established Scotland as a leader in green energy before anyone even coined the term. And of course these hydro schemes provided thousands of jobs.”
Mr Salmond went on to argue that Scotland would be a world leader in clean energy and added:
“Now this SNP government is repeating that vision by making Scotland a world leader in the next generation of renewable energy. Not only is it clean and safe – it will re-industrialise Scotland. Earlier this week I was in Renfrew for the announcement of two major renewable engineering projects – research and manufacturing that will create 1800 well paid and highly skilled jobs. So just as Scottish engineers powered the industrial revolution of the 19th century and built the bridge behind me, it will be Scottish engineers who can lead the way in the new renewable revolution for this 21st
“Across Scotland we have the opportunity to deliver 130,000 jobs in the low carbon economy by 2020. I am standing again as First Minister because I am determined that our nation will seize this opportunity.”
Mr Salmond confirmed the SNP’s commitment to a new Forth Road Bridge, describing the £1.5 billion investment as the biggest building project ever in Scotland and claimed it would create 3000 jobs. The SNP he said, had “pumped £14bn into job-creating capital projects” that had ensured Scottish employment continued to grow, bucking the UK trend.
The SNP leader attacked the UK coalition’s budget that will see the UK Treasury rake in £10 billion from the North Sea over the next five years, and insisted that Scotland would benefit with control over her own resources.
He added: “We know it is Scotland which is funding Chancellor George Osborne’s budget – record revenues from Scotland’s oil are bailing out the UK – yet again.
“But as well as taking from Scotland, Mr Osborne could learn a thing or two about Scotland, about budgeting for growth.
“So there is an alternative to the macho Tory plan to cut too far and too fast. That alternative is up and running here in Scotland.”