Westminster infighting on energy “a new level of incompetence”


  By Bob Duncan

The bitter infighting and confusion at the heart of the Westminster Government over future support for low-carbon energy, represents “a new level of incompetence” and is jeopardising Scotland’s renewables sector, say the SNP.

Reports in the Financial Times make clear that, despite having been worked on for almost two years, coalition ministers remain deadlocked over the level of support that should be available for renewable technologies.

The Liberal Democrat energy secretary, Ed Davey, has insisted the UK government’s stance on energy policy remains the same.  Responding to claims made by his new Conservative minister of state that no more onshore windfarms need be built in Britain, Davey said the government were still committed to renewable energy.

It is reported that the Energy Bill could still be introduced to Westminster in a matter of days, despite no agreement having been reached, which would make it impossible for energy companies to know what impact the new framework would have on their businesses.

SNP MSP Chic Brodie who sits on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee said:

“It is absolutely ludicrous that after months and months of chaos and uncertainty, the Westminster Government is now apparently going to legislate before deciding what its plans actually are.

“It is taking Westminster’s reputation as a laughing-stock to a completely new level of incompetence.

“How on earth do they expect energy companies and other stakeholders to contribute meaningfully to the process when such fundamental aspects of the Westminster Government’s plans are still up in the air?”

Senior figures across the energy industry have repeatedly voiced concerns over the damage to investment that continued uncertainty over energy market reforms is having on businesses.

In contrast, the Scottish Government has been working tirelessly to bring renewables jobs and investment into Scotland, with over £2.8 billion invested since 2009.

The Scottish government has set targets to generate 50% of Scotland’s electricity by 2015 and 100% by 2020 – some of the most ambitious in the world – currently, they are ahead of that target.

Mr Brodie continued:

“The fact of the matter is that this ongoing turf-war is causing nothing but uncertainty and is putting continued investment in Scotland’s burgeoning renewables sector at risk as a result.

“The contrast between a Government at Westminster that seems to spend most of its time navel-gazing and a Scottish Government that is delivering on ambitious renewable energy targets could scarcely be clearer.

“It is no wonder that while people in Scotland trust the Scottish Government to stand up for their interests, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would trust Westminster to run a bath.”