Fossil Fuel Levy Account

Scottish Executive Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 15th April 2010.

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Photo of Andrew Welsh Andrew Welsh Scottish National Party 2:15 pm, 15th April 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive what progress it has made on securing the release of funds from the fossil fuel levy account from the United Kingdom Government. (S3O-10126)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

The First Minister raised the issue of the fossil fuel levy surplus at a meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 31 March 2010. As a result, the chancellor has agreed to consider the matter in the next spending review. The Scottish Government welcomes the chancellor's approach in that respect, although we are continuing to press for a more urgent resolution of the issue. The fund, which stands at more than £180 million, represents money raised in Scotland and provides an opportunity for us to promote renewable energy development in Scotland.

Photo of Andrew Welsh Andrew Welsh Scottish National Party

Would the cabinet secretary reiterate the amount involved, indicate what that means in terms of lost investment and say what its effect will be on employment and investment in Scotland's industry and infrastructure?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Mr Welsh will be aware that the Government, through its work with Scottish Enterprise, has recently published the "National Renewables Infrastructure Plan", which has set out a number of the key pillars of infrastructure that will be required to ensure that we can maximise the economic benefit to Scotland of the renewable energy opportunities. That has been a helpful publication, because it gives structured guidance to the industry about where the Government sees developments being taken. It allowed Mr Mather to make announcements earlier this week about the development of the BiFab company at Fife energy park in Methil and it structures many of our interventions in this respect.

The £180 million that sits in the fossil fuel levy surplus is a useful resource that could be deployed to further assist the development of Scotland's involvement in renewable energy, with significant economic benefit to the country. The Government regrets the fact that we cannot access that money without there being essentially a negative consequence for our departmental expenditure limit. I hope that, in the immediate future, the chancellor will consider the many representations that the Government has made to try to ensure that we can have access to that resource to invest exclusively in renewable energy development without in any way undermining the departmental expenditure limit total that the Scottish Government holds from the United Kingdom Government.