Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil says the decision of the UK Government to deny support to island renewables is an ‘epic kick in the teeth’ for the Scottish islands and will threaten the UK’s long term carbon targets.
He was informed by Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP this week that the islands would not be included in the next round of Contract for Difference – a vital source of support to make projects viable.
Mr MacNeil said he was ‘staggered’ by this move by the UK Government which had only sought and gained informal approval for this scheme from the European Union but had never pursued formal approval despite repeated requests from Scotland’s Islands and the SNP Government.
Mr MacNeil has been pursuing this matter on behalf of island groups, both in his role as MP and as former Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee.
He said: “I am staggered by this mis-governance from the UK Government which is a real kick in the teeth to the Scottish Islands.
“The reality is that renewable energy from the Scottish Islands would be cheaper than offshore, the UK Government has not chosen the best value for money option and will instead procure the more expensive energy sources.
“The fact is that the Scottish Islands are already disadvantaged by the UK Government’s peculiar regime of penalising the sources of the best wind resource in places like the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland with ludicrous transmission charges.
“Unfortunately we lost the ability to determine our own affairs in the Scottish referendum and are now at the mercy of others.
“The only glimmer of hope is that Greg Clark, Secretary of State for BEIS, promised me this morning that he will visit the Outer Hebrides and will launch an inquiry into the feasibility of Remote Island Wind.
“I hope this will not just be a calming exercise to dissipate people’s righteous indignation at this decision by the UK Tory Government, on what is a perfect day for burying bad news.”
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan commented: “The UK Government has been lobbied again and again by the Scottish Government, by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and by the local MP and MSP about the importance of reaching a decision on island windpower.
“The announcement, which was slipped out while the results of the US election were flooding Scotland’s media – mean the UK government has ignored everything they have been told on this issue by Scotland.
“We have waited years for an answer about what level of support will be offered to island wind power. Now it looks like we could have to wait another two years for an answer to that question.
“Meanwhile the UK Government have completely failed to understand that the islands are the very place which could be the renewables powerhouse for the country.
“I will be meeting up with the Comhairle about this in the coming days, and will also be seeking a meeting with Scottish ministers so that this issue can again be raised with the Westminster Government.”