Caithness Sutherland and Ross SNP MSP Rob Gibson has called on the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition to stop the Ofgem attack on the Far North of Scotland when it comes to renewable marine energy transmission charges.
A new report from Scottish Renewables shows that costs of delivering power from marine renewables in the Marine Energy Park (comprising sites in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters) are set to soar to over £100 million due to new charges being imposed from Ofgem.
However, if the same projects were being carried out off the South West of England at the UK’s other Marine Energy Park in Cornwall then they would receive a subsidy of over £2 million a year.
The figures released shows that under the new Ofgem transmission regime the charges of those developments in the Pentland and Orkney waters are set to rise by 91%.
Estimates of the projected annual connection charges for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area have increased from £56m last year to £107m in 2020. This contrasts with an annual subsidy of some £2.3m if these projects were to be built in the south west of England
Mr Gibson said that the UK Government must step in and end the unfair charges and which were unwanted, unfair and certainly not needed and said:
“This is merely a tax on geography and I am shocked that that Ofgem has deemed it necessary to attack the Far North yet again. These figures suggest to renewables developers that if you want to invest then best try the South West of England as you will receive a subsidy for your troubles as opposed to the North of Scotland where you will get hammered by transmission charges and other costs.”
“Our Northern and Western isles will especially suffer if these imbalanced charges are allowed. What the marine renewables sector needs is a fair and level playing field across the board. This is plainly not the case under the UK Government. A strong and vibrant economy in Caithness as well as Orkney needs fair access charges.
“I cannot understand how these charges were dreamed up. The European Union in the past have raised questions about these charges and I am sure that news like this will do nothing to allay fears. The UK Government is proving that we are not better off together.”
Ofgem’s Project Transmit was supposed to address the anomally that saw English companies paid a subsidy to generate and connnect to the grid but companies in Scotland instead charged millions of pounds. However critics have insisted that the Scottish island’s will still face unfair charges such as those in Orkney.