19th February 2018
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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.

Jeopardising

“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.”

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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6 comments

  1. John Tulloch

    What utter poppycock!

    Why on earth would a Westminster government, pledged to cut energy prices, force English and Welsh consumers to foot the bill for OIOF’s renewable energy, at 2-3 times the cost of conventional energy, plus “£1.3 billion of grid infrastructure”, plus gas turbine plant to cover the days when there is too little wind, while England is sits atop forty years’ supply of shale gas that the government is committed to exploiting?

    All, simply, to underwrite the SNP’s financial prospectus for independence at their Indy2 referendum in 2018, or whenever?

    Why would London Tories do that?

    Reply
  2. John Tulloch

    Now even the EU is balking at “anti-competitive” renewables!

    “Windfarms and solar power could soon lose the privilege of getting priority over other energy sources on European electricity grids, leaked documents show.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/01/renewables-could-lose-european-power-grid-priority-documents-reveal

    Reply
  3. i tinkler

    “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.” £1 billion would probably not even cover the cost of the famed Viking Energy interconnector!!! Add to that the cost of a backup Oil burning Power station (for when the wind does not blow) for Shetland, £150 million and then the cost of Viking Energy £800 million (2009 costing) . Now the cost is of Wind Energy in Shetland alone is well over £2 billion if further projects are considered against the fall in the pound and material inflation since 2009. Is it not about time our local political leaders took their collective heads from “where the sun will never shine” and just bin these stupid projects before more money is wasted? If it was “fools and their money”, it would be bad enough, this, however, is is “fools and our money”, the fools are so fit to squander!!!

    Reply
  4. Donnie Morrison

    Having just come off the boat and only just read political leader Robinson’s pleepsin epistle to Westminster, I feel it merits a short comment.
    When Gary was campaigning before the last council elections he assured me of his total opposition to Viking Energy.
    He now appears to totally back this toxic ‘shovel ready’ project.
    Should Councillor Robinson have the audacity to seek re-election for the west side I can assure him that quite a number of his constituents would be more than ‘shovel ready’ to bury his political aspirations without trace.

    Reply
    • ian_tinkler

      Having stood with Gary Robinson on the hustings and heard him say to the West side electorate, how he was absolutely against the Viking Energy Project, the closure of rural schools and centralisation of facilities to Lerwick. I was utterly appalled at his now, many volte face moves, and his absolute a failure to act on his previous electoral pledges. I look forward immensely to reminding him of this and all the West Side electorate during the canvasing for next year’s Council elections. It is sad how once elected Gary has chosen to let down and ignore the rural communities of the West side so completely.

      Reply
  5. John Tulloch

    According to the Financial TImes, 17,000 wind energy jobs cost £98,000 per job per year:

    “…the problem with green jobs is that they are not very valuable. Take the 17,000 people that….RenewableUK, says were employed in the wind energy business in 2013. These jobs do not exist because the industry is… competing on a level playing field with conventional energy suppliers, but because the public has…(subsidised them)…. In effect, each of those wind jobs had a subsidy cost of £98,000 in that year alone, paid in the currency of more expensive electricity. That raises costs for everyone, cutting consumers’ spending power and company profits”

    All adding to the shocking levels of fuel poverty in Shetland and elsewhere.
    https://www.ft.com/content/0e2a16de-9e88-11e6-891e-abe238dee8e2

    Reply

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