Environment

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:56 pm on 21st February 2007.

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Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour 3:56 pm, 21st February 2007

I have already outlined the Executive's position. Our policy on new nuclear power stations was made clear in response to the Department of Trade and Industry's energy review, and it will be set out again in the UK Government's proposed white paper, which I am reliably informed will be produced shortly. The white paper will, I am sure, also recognise the huge potential of renewable energy in Scotland not only to meet our own needs but to contribute to the UK's climate change objectives. We cannot compartmentalise the fight against climate change by using national boundaries—that is an example of the futility of the nationalists' position.

Scotland has tremendous renewables potential—equal to 10 times our peak demand. We also have the skills and technology that are necessary for a successful renewables sector. Our own targets are way ahead of those of the rest of the UK and those proposed by the European Commission.

As has been referred to—and, indeed, welcomed—we announced this week that, in 2005, 18 per cent of Scotland's demand was met by renewable energy. We set that target for 2010. We are determined to meet our target of 40 per cent by 2020.

Hydro power and onshore wind are the principal sources of renewable energy today, and they have further potential. For larger cases, the Executive is taking action that could help to reduce the number of stages in the consent process. That is a key issue for staff attention. Only last week, I referred to the issue in response to a question from John Swinney.

However, onshore wind and hydro are by no means the only options. In Scotland, we have the scope to move into other areas. We are actively promoting energy from marine, biomass and hydrogen sources. We have invested in the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, which is a world-class facility for testing wave and tidal devices, as well as in the offshore wind project in the Moray firth. The key driving factor behind that growth has been the renewables obligation, which is a world-leading market mechanism for promoting renewables technology.

I would say much more if more time were available. We continue to work towards ambitious targets for sourcing our energy from a balanced energy mix. Some have said that that should exclude nuclear power. I do not believe that to be the case. I say to those people that, unless they support Roseanna Cunningham's view that all nuclear power stations should close tomorrow—which they do not—they must recognise that energy supply is not a simple issue and that it does the Scottish people no favours to pretend that it is. Together with the UK Government, the Executive will continue to work to ensure that Scotland has a secure, affordable and low-carbon energy supply.

I move amendment S2M-5607.3, to leave out from "welcomes" to end and insert:

"notes the ruling by the High Court in London regarding the UK Government consultation on energy; notes that the DTI has accepted the judgement and will consult further; believes that the way ahead for energy in Scotland is to deliver on the Scottish Executive's energy policies; further welcomes the announcement by the Executive that it has already met its 2010 target of 18% of Scotland's electricity from renewable energy; welcomes the Executive's support for nine marine power projects, including one set to be the world's largest, and its commitment to the world-leading European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney; notes that the achievement of the Executive's renewable energy targets has been through a mix of renewable technologies, including the major Blacklaw windfarm constructed on a former open-cast coal site generating 140MW; notes that projects for the future include the substantial Glen Doe hydro power project, world-leading offshore wind development and significant biomass energy schemes, and believes that Scotland can achieve its future renewables targets if it is supported with determination and consistency by the Executive."