Environment

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:18 pm on 21st February 2007.

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Photo of Maureen Macmillan Maureen Macmillan Labour 4:18 pm, 21st February 2007

No.

I agree that we can have subsea cables down the east and west coasts and underground land cables when necessary, but that will require a lot of visible engineering work. Members cannot demand that cables are run underground and then object to the building of a large converter station. Subsea and underground cables carry direct current, so they cannot link to further wind or marine turbines en route without appearing above ground and being converted to alternating current at a converter station. I contend that that would be much more destructive to the visual landscape than pylons.

We need to upgrade our grid connection now, whether or not we are producing renewables. The present line is no longer fit for purpose and is coming to the end of its life. We will have bigger pylons, but fewer of them. To me, that seems to be a good trade-off.

I challenge Opposition MSPs. They cannot be in favour of renewables but against wind power. They cannot be in favour of renewables but against the upgrading of the grid. Too many of them are condoning by their silence a movement which, like the lairds in the days of the establishment of the hydro board, wishes to preserve the Highlands in aspic. I refer to people who want to walk the hills but do not care to see the population of the Highlands and Islands grow and prosper. They do not wish to see the industry that would spring up, or the jobs for our young people in Kintyre, the Western Isles, Caithness and Easter Ross.

We desperately want the engineering and construction work that real investment in renewables will bring. Those areas of Scotland are already being affected by global warming through floods and storms. Global warming will affect other countries even more through drought and rising seas.