Energy Secretary Ed Davey wants Scots to stay in the UK “family” – and has warned their energy bills may go up if the country goes it alone.
In a speech at the Scottish Renewables Conference in Edinburgh yesterday he said he had “no doubt that with the talents of its people and its natural resources, Scotland could make a go of it, alone.”
But he said the UK energy market is ten times larger than that of Scotland’s alone while Scotland gets more than a quarter of the UK’s support for renewable energy.
Mr Davey said: “These costs and subsidies are spread out over all 27 million households, not just Scotland’s 2.5 million.”
Keeping up this level of support would take up “a greater proportion” of national finances, meaning “either higher taxes, higher energy bills or cuts in other areas”.
Welfare, housing, education, health and defence may “lose out” as a result, he claimed.
The two countries would also have to “strike a new deal” to trade energy in the case of independence.
He said: “I have experience in negotiating cross-border energy deals. And believe you me, it is incredibly complex and difficult.”
Mr Davey hinted he may have to be tougher towards Scotland if it left the union: “I keep foremost in my mind the interests of the UK taxpayer and UK consumer. And where the UK benefits in terms of jobs and economic and industrial growth…
“I would put the interests of the UK first – a UK then without Scotland.”
If it wanted to export electricity to the UK, Scotland would have to compete with wind from Ireland, geothermal from Iceland, hydro from Norway as well as offshore wind and tidal energy from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Mr Davey said: “When looking to import electricity, the UK would consider rationally which sources provide the cheapest and most reliable options for our people.”