By Martin Kelly
A Scottish MP has reacted with fury after the Scottish Parliament was stripped of a key energy power after a House of Lords amendment was backed by Unionist MPs.
SNP Energy spokesman Mike Weir MP slammed the vote, which saw powers over renewable obligation brought back under the control of Westminster.
Commenting on the debate in the House of Commons on the Lords amendment to the Energy bill – and in particular Amendment 54 which removed the Scottish parliament’s powers in respect of renewables obligation in Scotland – Mr Weir said:
“This is an outrageous example of the unionist parties ganging up to remove powers from the Scottish parliament. Worse still they did so by introducing last-minute amendments in the unelected House of Lords, rather than having the courage to debate it on the floor of the House of Commons.”
Renewables Obligation Certificates are green certificates issued by energy watchdog Ofgem to operators of renewable generating stations for the renewable electricity they generate. Renewable obligation ensures suppliers source an increasing proportion of the electricity they supply to customers from renewable sources.
Mr Weir revealed that there had been no consultation with the Scottish Government or the Scottish Parliament prior to the introduction of the amendment.
The SNP MP added: “…nor when challenged in the Commons did the minister or his Labour front bench counterpart have any reasonable explanation as to why this happened in such an underhand manner.
“This is yet another example of Tories and Labour ganging up at Westminster against Scotland’s interests and removing powers from Scotland. Whilst the No campaign talk about vague promises of more powers if people vote No , the reality is they are removing Scotland’s existing powers by stealth.
“The only way it can be stopped is with a Yes vote next September.”
The loss of the power over Renewables Obligation came on the same day that the UK Government announced it was to cut the amount of subsidy to onshore wind generation in favour of offshore.
The coalition has announced a cut in support for onshore wind and solar energy and slightly increased backing to offshore wind and hydro power, however the SNP has said they have failed to take into consideration the different challenges facing Scotland’s islands – with the one size fits all strike price.
Under the new provision, the UK Government guarantees to pay offshore wind developers the difference between wholesale power prices and a fixed strike price of £140 pounds per megawatt-hour (MWh) for the 2018/19 fiscal year, £5 more than its provisional subsidy figures in June. The price for onshore drops by the same amount to £70.
Accusing the UK government for failing to recognise the different needs of Scotland’s islands, SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Angus MacNeil said:
“All islands are different – and have different costs associated with renewable energy – and I am disappointed to see the UK government package the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland together.
“While Scotland’s islands are home to enormous amounts of potential renewable energy, producers face higher costs from harnessing these resources. Following intensive pressure from the Scottish Government and Scotland’s renewables sector, those cost pressures were recognised with the confirmation that there will be a specific strike price for islands, however the UK Government has failed to recognise the different needs.
“What is the point in having Alistair Carmichael as Scottish Secretary of State – an islands MP- if they cannot deliver for Scotland’s islands?
“At the Treasury his colleague and fellow Highlands & Islands MP, Danny Alexander, is failing to deliver for renewable energy- first he undermined the oil and gas sector in the 2011 budget, and now it’s renewables. Surely it’s not beyond the wit of the Lib Dem’s Highlands and Islands MPs to get together and ensure that the necessary support is there.
“With community support, island renewables will bring much needed jobs and investment to the islands and ensure that we share in the full economic benefits of Scotland’s ambitious renewable energy targets.”
[Newsnet Scotland will now begin the process of slowing down as we approach Christmas. Visitors may notice fewer news stories and reduced turnover over the coming days.
However we can reveal that this week will see the third instalment of Duggy Dug, this time looking at the pound – a timely subject for our animated character and a belter of an animation.
As we approach Christmas look out also for our ‘Dirty Dozen’ feature article that will list the twelve worst examples of questionable broadcasts from BBC Scotland. If you have someone who believes the BBC is impartial then this article will open their eyes.
This coming week will also see the BBC Trust reveal its decision on the BBC’s handling of the Lucinda Creighton episode.
Newsnet Scotland, despite being in festive slowdown, will bring you the decision first and will also reveal all of the evidence as submitted by the BBC. We are sure it will prove fascinating reading.]