By Bob Duncan
Scottish Tories have been attacking the Scottish renewables industry and the SNP energy policy which supports it, while being paid tens of thousands a year for having wind turbines on their estates.
The Tory MSP attacks on Scotland’s windfarms have been described as “audacious hypocrisy” and completely out of sync with the actions of two Tory MSPs who take windfarm payments.
They also contradict the comments of their leader David Cameron who has welcomed the 750 jobs in turbine manufacturing announced this week by French manufacturer Areva.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the announcement was “brilliant for Scotland”.
He said: “I am determined that Britain competes and thrives in the global race and this shows that the UK remains an attractive place for foreign investment.
“Growth of the renewable energy sector isn’t just good for our environment, it’s good for our economy too and, with more renewable energy deployed under three years of this coalition government than under 13 years of the previous government, the UK is now the world’s biggest offshore wind market.”
However, on the same day, Scottish Tory Chief Whip John Lamont issued a press release claiming that turbines were ”making our energy production industry the laughing stock of the world”.
And to make matters worse for the Scottish Tories, two Conservative MSPs Alex Fergusson and Jamie McGrigor together receive up to over £50,000 per year for having windfarm developments sited on their own land.
Alex Fergusson MSP, Tory Rural Affairs and Environment spokesperson is paid rent of up to £45,000 per year by Scottish and Southern Energy Ltd for land he owns which hosts part of the Hadyard Hill wind farm.
Jamie McGrigor MSP, Tory Environment and Climate Change spokesperson, receives between £5,000 and £6,000 annually for an option to place future turbines on a farm he owns near Dalmally.
The Tory press release says:
“We accept windfarms, if sensitively sited, have a role to play in Scotland’s energy sector.
“But ludicrous targets of producing 100 per cent energy from renewables are at best fanciful, and at worst costly and dangerous.
“Turbines are intermittent and unreliable, and the SNP’s obsession with them risk [sic] ruining our countryside and making our energy production industry the laughing stock of the world.”
The Scottish government is currently ahead of target to achieve 100% renewable generation by 2020.
Responding to John Lamont’s comments, Rob Gibson, the Convener of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee chairman, said:
”This is a shameless double standard which attempts to undermine a vital growth sector of Scotlands economy from some Tories in Scotland.
”Two land-owning Tories rake in up to £51,000 a year from renewable energy projects on their estates at the same time as they complain about renewable energy policy. Not just that but John Lamont is completely out of sync with his boss David Cameron, who just this week praised the renewables revolution.
”What has John Lamont had to say to those MSPs in his group making money from wind energy? Tory policy simply blows with the wind on renewables energy.
”This week’s announcement of investment by Areva to create 750 jobs through turbine manufacturing is a fantastic vote of confidence in Scotland and is testament to the work that is being done to secure investment in our renewables industry.
”The Tories have ruined Scotland’s economy once before, their negativity must not be allowed to do so again.”