Wind Turbine Development (Tiree)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 19th December 2013.

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Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

6. To ask the First Minister what the impact will be on the Scottish Government’s energy policy of Scottish Power’s decision not to go ahead with its proposed wind turbine development off Tiree. (S4F-01780)

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

There will be no impact, in the sense that that was always regarded as a longer-range project.

Although I will not accuse Liz Smith of having a planted question, this gives me the opportunity to point out that this very morning, the latest statistics on Scottish renewables and renewables generation figures have been published. They show that Scottish renewable electricity enjoyed another record year. Renewable resources delivered 40.3 per cent of gross electricity consumption in 2012, up from 36 per cent in 2011 and putting us well on the way to the interim target of 50 per cent by 2015.

Although the question was not prearranged, I know that Liz Smith will join me and the whole chamber in welcoming that demonstration of the success of the renewables strategy in Scotland.

Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

In the spirit of Christmas, I note that I am not given to asking planted questions.

Shale oil and gas are revolutionising the United States energy markets by substantially reducing costs, customer bills and carbon emissions. That is why, earlier this week, the United Kingdom Government produced a regulatory road map for shale oil and gas. Will the Scottish Government now produce a road map for Scotland?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

We are a country that produces seven times the hydrocarbons that we consume. We should therefore proceed cautiously on the undoubted opportunities that there are for shale gas in Scotland, not just onshore but offshore. That would be my position and the Government’s position on the matter.

What interests me is that the Conservative Party has been objecting to energy projects the length and breadth of the country. I do not think that it carries its support in that matter, because its support shows consistent support for wind energy. I do not think that it even carries its members on the matter, as at least three of them have wind projects on their own landholdings.

A balanced policy for renewables is the right way forward. I hope that the Westminster Government can start to reconcile the differences between the two elements of the coalition because that difference and uncertainty are the sole things that are damaging opportunities for further energy initiatives in Scotland.