Energy Efficient Scotland

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd November 2018.

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Photo of Paul Wheelhouse Paul Wheelhouse Scottish National Party

I will try to get through those questions.

On the 2040 target date, we believe that that is the right timescale. We are trying to reflect the sentiments of Parliament—which Alexander Burnett accused me of not doing—and other stakeholders who believe that we should accelerate the programme, so we will consult. The purpose of the consultation is to find out whether there is a credible way of achieving that acceleration.

There are, however, competing tensions. The faster we accelerate, the more difficult it is for the supply chain to respond. If we have a long policy signal and provide commitments to delivering the regulatory framework and follow that through, that will provide a stable basis for private business to invest.

It should be borne in mind that the total cost of the programme might be up to £12 billion. Neither the Scottish Government nor local government can afford to commit that resource, so we want to lever in as much private and third sector investment as we can. The long-term certainty that will be delivered by LHEES, in particular, will be very important in that process. We are engaging with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities as a key partner in delivering energy efficient Scotland through the LHEES process. We need to understand what resource base it will take to enable COSLA to deliver that.

We recognise that there are resource challenges. This is a new responsibility, and we do not have a bottomless pit of funding—as, I am sure, Lewis Macdonald will acknowledge—but we want sensible dialogue with our colleagues in COSLA. To date, the discussions have been very constructive, which I welcome.

We are also looking at how we might, in providing the regulatory environment for district heating, tackle issues including wayleaves. Again, that will provide investors with confidence that timescales can be met cost effectively and that financial and project delivery risks can be reduced, which will also help with the cost of borrowing capital for private sector projects.

I am happy to engage with Lewis Macdonald. I am sure that Kevin Stewart, who leads on all planning matters and, indeed, on the domestic energy front, would be keen to engage with Opposition spokespeople on how we can achieve consensus on the issue.