"National Renewables Infrastructure Plan"

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

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Photo of Duncan McNeil Duncan McNeil Labour 2:15 pm, 15th April 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive what investment it will make available to proceed with stage 2 of the "National Renewables Infrastructure Plan". (S3O-10088)

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

Just this week, as part of the economic recovery plan, the Scottish Government was delighted to announce that £3 million will be made available to facilitate further essential development of plant and equipment at the Arnish industrial estate on the Isle of Lewis.

The proposed accelerated recladding at the main fabrication shop works will assist in meeting Highlands and Islands Enterprise's objectives for increased activity and diversification at the site.

In addition, detailed work is under way to identify how much further investment will be made available to support phase 2 of the "National Renewables Infrastructure Plan". The final level of investment available will depend on which sites secure sufficient market interest and on type of use. The plan's delivery group, which is currently working on the further investment needed for the identified sites as well as other related delivery issues, will provide a draft stage report to the Scottish energy advisory board on 18 May 2010 and report back formally with potential investment plans in June.

Any pump priming for sites will be drawn down from an infrastructure fund that will include Scottish Government funding, as well as potential European sources of funding and possible resources from the United Kingdom offshore wind site infrastructure competition that was announced in last month's budget.

Photo of Duncan McNeil Duncan McNeil Labour

I share the minister's enthusiasm for what is an emerging and exciting industry and I agree that it is necessary to support it through investment. He will know that we have a site in Greenock that meets all the requirements of the "National Renewables Infrastructure Plan", with land available, sufficient lengths of quayside, high loading clearance, sufficient depth of water and one of the biggest working dry docks in Europe. That site is ready to go with little investment required, so the minister will imagine the dismay and horror when we discovered that it had been left off the list of preferred sites in the plan. Does the minister agree that we require scrutiny of the findings in the plan? Will he give an assurance that on-going discussions will be held with the Inverclyde renewables alliance to ensure that we are not excluded from future investment opportunities in renewables manufacturing, particularly if market interest is shown?

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

The merits of Inchgreen and the strength of the wider Inverclyde area are part of Scotland's strong offer to the industry in its early days. The member is right that the market will decide which sites are suitable for use. We will certainly encourage on-going dialogue and we will encourage Inverclyde to ensure that it gets its entry into the competition that the Department of Energy and Climate Change has got under way. We will also encourage talks with other locations to maximise the scope for collaboration as we go forward into the new phase of renewables.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

Will the minister speculate on the rate of growth for household renewables as part of his renewables action plan? I understand that he thinks that we will get a proportionate share of the United Kingdom's 750,000 home renewables installations. Will he tell us how fast we will get those in Scotland in the next three years?

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

I would love to do that, but I would have to consult Alex Neil and get his feedback. It is not in my gift to give the member that information. I will talk to Alex Neil and get back to her in writing.