Environment

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:47 pm on 21st February 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour 4:47 pm, 21st February 2007

As a matter of fact, I did. I see no problem with that.

I asked the SNP shadow environment spokesperson about the cost of its policy. He could not answer my question, but Maureen Watt did so on his behalf, with a quotation of circa $1 billion for the cost of the Peterhead project. I asked simply whether that cost would be met by the consumer or by the taxpayer. Mr Lochhead may say that that is a ludicrous question, but it is fundamental and it is at the heart of the SNP policy of dismantling the single UK energy market.

If the SNP dismantles the single UK energy market, it will fall to the Scottish taxpayer or consumer to cover the cost of the cross-border subsidy for transmission loss or connections with the UK consumer or taxpayer base. The SNP has no comprehension of that and not a clue about what it would cost the Scottish taxpayer or consumer to foot that bill.

Chris Ballance suggested that the UK consultation on the energy review was a sham. Although there are lessons to be learned from the outcome of the judicial review, it is not true to suggest that the entire energy review was anything other than a genuine, evidence-based exercise to find solutions to the long-term challenges of climate change and security of supply. It is a sham to suggest that there is a single, easy answer to those questions. It is simplistic to pretend that there is.

It is also untrue that if existing nuclear capacity were shut down—that is what Roseanna Cunningham would do tomorrow—there would be no impact on carbon emissions. In fact, if our existing nuclear capacity were replaced with new nuclear power stations, carbon emissions from the electricity sector would be around 15 per cent lower than they would be if it were replaced with gas-fired power stations—and, obviously, even lower than they would be if it were replaced by coal-fired power stations. I ask Richard Lochhead whether he believes in all seriousness that extending the renewables obligation certificate mechanism to carbon capture would lead to a marketplace disincentive to investing in our renewable-energy industries.

Energy policy must be about meeting two major challenges: tackling climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and delivering secure, clean energy at affordable prices as our dependence on imported energy increases. There is no single answer to the complex questions that we face—the debate is not whether to have nuclear power or no nuclear power. The Executive's policies are demonstrably delivering some of the necessary action already, by reducing fuel poverty, developing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency.