UK Government policy risks Scottish renewables growth, say MPs

The UK Government’s recent changes to energy policy have caused uncertainty in the sector and risks the growth of the renewables industry in Scotland. That’s according to a report by […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

The UK Government’s recent changes to energy policy have caused uncertainty in the sector and risks the growth of the renewables industry in Scotland.

That’s according to a report by the Scottish Affairs Committee which is calling on the UK Government to work alongside the Scottish Government to support the growth of the green energy industry.

The Committee claims the significant growth of the renewable sector in the country has demonstrated the benefits of a supportive policy environment and attracted significant investment.

It adds around 21,000 people are now employed in the sector which produces almost 30% of the UK’s renewable electricity.

However, the report states policy changes such as the removal of subsidy for onshore wind in particular have affected investor confidence.

Citing Scottish Renewables, it adds early closure of the Renewables Obligation to onshore wind will cost Scotland up to £3 billion in lost investment and put 5,400 jobs at risk.

The Scottish Affairs Committee also believes renewable plants located in rural areas and on the Scottish Islands face inadequate grid connections and high transmission charges to reach the urban areas where electricity is most needed.

It is calling on the UK Government to take action to support the improvement of infrastructure between the Scottish Islands and the mainland.

Committee Chair Pete Wishart said: “During the course of this inquiry it has been encouraging to see how Scotland has taken to renewable energy and now produces over a quarter of the UK’s renewable electricity. This is an important sector of Scotland’s economy and also makes a vital contribution to meeting our commitments to tackle climate change. The sector’s future success relies on a supportive policy framework in both Westminster and Holyrood.

“We have urged the government to clarify the future support which will be available to the renewable sector and set out how they will work with the Scottish Government to develop a clear, long term plan that will allow renewable energy to remain a central part of the energy mix.”

Speaking about the report, a spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy and Indusrty Strategy (BEIS) said: “The creation of BEIS puts climate change at the heart of our energy and industrial strategy, ensuring economic prosperity and security for our country.

“The renewables industry has been a strong success in Scotland thanks to UK Government support and we’ve been completely clear that our commitment to the industry will continue with the announced £730 million funding package for future renewable energy projects. In the last funding round over 40% of successful UK projects were based in Scotland and further details of the new round will be made soon.”

Earlier this month the UK Government abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).