Islands’ councillors accuse Westminster of inactivity on renewable energy
The Westminster government has been urged to commit to large-scale renewable energy projects in the isles, amid claims Tory inactivity is holding back more than £1 billion in investment.
A joint letter signed by the SIC’s political leader, Gary Robinson, and other island group leaders as well as Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, has been sent to UK secretary of state Greg Clark.
They urge Mr Clark to end uncertainty over which types of renewable energy will be supported.
It follows a previous letter sent to Mr Clark’s predecessor, Amber Rudd, to express “grave concern” over the lack of information coming from the British government.
The matter has been discussed at the meeting of the Convention of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness – despite “continuing silence” on the matter from London.
Mr Robinson, along with Orkney leader Steven Heddle and Angus Campbell, of Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, says “indecision” over awarding contracts threatens financial investments which developers had pledged to make.
“The UK government’s on-going indecision on the parameters of the next CFD allocation round is now jeopardising financial investments made in good faith by developers and SHE Transmission,” the letter states.
“In the wake of the EU referendum, the UK can ill afford to miss the opportunity to unlock the £1.3 billion of investment in the construction of strategic grid infrastructure and the UK-wide supply-chain benefits that would be triggered by the shovel ready anchor projects on the Western Isles and Shetland.
“We urge that this period of uncertainty is brought to a swift conclusion, and that the strong economic case for remote island wind… is duly acknowledged in a decision that allows island projects to compete in the next allocation round.
“As the new secretary of state, we implore you to take immediate action to ensure that your government re-engages with the process and delivers on the commitments made by successive UK governments to harness the renewables potential of the islands.”
An independent report, commissioned by the Scottish government, estimated that island economies could benefits from up to £725 million over the next 25 years from renewables projects.
Mr Swinney said: “In the wake of the EU referendum, the UK can ill afford to miss the opportunity to unlock £1.3 billion of investments offered by the shovel ready anchor projects on the Western Isles and Shetland and the associated benefits for the UK-wide supply chain.
“We urge that this period of uncertainty is brought to a swift conclusion and that the strong economic case for remote island wind, developed in partnership between the UK government and the wider Scottish islands delivery forum membership, is duly acknowledged in a decision that allows island projects to compete in the next allocation round.
“We would urge the new secretary of state to take immediate action to ensure that the UK Government re-engages with this process and delivers on the commitments to harness the renewables potential of the islands.”