Electricity Market (Scotland)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:57 pm on 8th September 2004.

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Photo of Mr Peter Duncan Mr Peter Duncan Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Local and Devolved Government Affairs 2:57 pm, 8th September 2004

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about the considerable benefit to be gained by moving offshore. However, the issue is not entirely straightforward. I am reminded of a proposal approved for the Solway firth, adjacent to my constituency. I understand that it is not a long distance offshore, but some of the arguments are pertinent. A proposal was made for an area adjacent to a stretch of coastline that is a site of special scientific interest, one that is significant in the UK and Europe for environmental preservation. Although farmers were precluded from erecting a single turbine to support their own premises, approval was given in a relatively short time for 60 wind turbines to be built some six miles offshore. Such inconsistency does not endear the wider public to the planning process.

I ask the hon. Gentleman if he can reconcile a perceived inconsistency in what he said in his intervention. He said that Scotland had the potential to provide 25 per cent. of Europe's wind energy. He will be pleased to know that I listened to the opening debates in the Scottish Parliament yesterday. Unusually, the Official Report of the Scottish Parliament has not yet reached the website, so I have not been able to clarify the precise wording, but I understand that Nicola Sturgeon suggested that Scotland could be the source of 40 per cent. of Europe's wind energy. As I would not want to engender conflict at such an early stage between the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan and his deputy leader, vice leader or assistant leader, perhaps he would clarify the target figure.