Sufficient for Now

17952881455_81fd720bc1_bBy Mike Small

As Shell’s Arctic Drilling Rig the “Polar Pioneer” (sound heroic doesn’t it) leaves Seattle’s Puget Sound en route to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic, our Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd has great news: Climate change is over and the energy crisis averted as onshore wind told: “that is sufficient for now”.

Forget ‘Vote Blue, get Green’, forget the Huskies and the ‘Greenest Government Ever’. This is Thatcherism red in tooth and claw. Economic ideology trumps all decision-making for this administration. Rudd announced – to mass confusion  – that new onshore wind farms will be excluded from a subsidy scheme from 1 April 2016, a year earlier than expected.

Speaking to business leaders in London last night, Amber Rudd said it was time to shift subsidies from onshore wind to other technologies that needed them more. She didn’t say what those other technologies were. But the extraordinary thing about this blow to renewable energy is not just the complete disregard for Scotland or the shameful lack of even a pitiful commitment to the climate crisis, but the complete lack of any framework for the decision. What on earth does she mean “sufficient for now”? On what basis? By what criteria? What does that even mean? When will ‘for now’ be over?

The entire idea of transparency and a ‘market’ of energy is misplaced. All energy is ‘subsidised’ somehow and the lack of democracy in the area is blatant when local people now have a unique veto over wind turbines, but cannot veto shale gas fracking or even a nuclear power station on their doorstep.

The decision makes no sense as onshore wind is the cheapest readily available form of clean energy in the UK, and only yesterday over 9000 people staged what is thought to be biggest ever UK lobby on climate change.

The Scottish Government has pointed out that slashing wind farm subsidies:”will have a disproportionate impact on Scotland as around 70% of onshore wind projects in UK planning system are here”. In fact, as Richard Dixon notes while 9.6% of UK electricity currently comes from wind, in Scotland it’s 50-60% just now in Scotland since we are currently exporting 2.2GW to England.

This makes nonsense of Labour’s Tom Greatrex, former MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West claim that a “disproportionate” amount of subsidy paid by all UK taxpayers goes to Scotland projects. In fact we recall during the referendum the same MP stating the most effective way of ensuring Scotland could play a “vibrant and active role” in tackling climate change was as part of the UK, a world leader on the issue. The Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West said: “Our voice is amplified, not diminished, by speaking as part of a nation of 63 million”.

That statement now stands as testimony to the missed opportunity of last years referendum in the wake of todays announcement.

Scottish Renewables’ chief executive Niall Stuart said:

“We believe this decision could put around two gigawatts of onshore wind projects in Scotland at risk. These are projects that could provide the equivalent electricity demand of 1.23m Scottish homes and significantly improve our energy security, while bringing around £3bn pounds of investment.”

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, the conservation campaign, said: “This decision is especially contradictory coming in the week that the European Commission warned that the UK is set to miss its 2020 renewables target.”

Rudd’s announcement is cheap populism playing to the Telegraph readers and blue rinse climate deniers. This is a tragically stupid and opportunist decision from Westminster. What a travesty.



Comments (25)

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  1. sandy ritchie says:

    The wind farm issue is more complex than the author describes. Is it right that wealthy Scots land owners receive subsidies (primarily from the English tax payer given the authors figures?) when their wind turbines stand idle during low demand is one issue that doesn’t seem fair… many agree that this “anomaly” should be addressed. And let’s face it, wind farms are an ugly eyesore on the Scottish landscape… also the jury’s still out regarding the possible harm to the local wild life.
    So what is the alternative? shore wind farms and tidal energy are a couple that should be pursued with vigor in my opinion

    1. Valerie says:

      This is an absolutely disgusting stance by the UK govt and no doubt heralds the race for shale, where even the National Parks in England are not safe.

      The Infrastructure Bill is an unmitigated disaster, which lies firmly at the feet of Labour, for their disgusting performance on this back in January, where they proposed so called safeguards for fracking, which were demolished, and they abstained in key votes. Abstaining is their favourite activity.

      The energy companies pursuing fracking are no doubt promising big returns to the Establishment and their pals, as shares in the fracking firms went up when the Tories won in May.

      Anyone reading this that does not know about fracking, please get informed, and join your local group. Once people do some reading, they are horrified by the dangers, and realise why it’s being banned now in a lot of countries.

      Let’s not hear about wind turbines being ‘bird choppers’ eh? More birds are lost to domestic cats every year.

      1. sandy ritchie says:

        Wow…an article about renewable energy ..wind energy…has been highjacked by anti fracking brigade. Fracking is another issue …usually pursued by environmentalists and the uninformed who happily enjoy the fruits of cheaper fuel (produced from fracking in the States)..I expect Valerie to be campaigning at Grangemouth where fracked oil will be stored from the states…or are you just a NIMBY Val?

        1. Valerie says:

          Yes, you will see me at Grangemouth, or at the local meetings held by Ratcliffe employees who want to tell us how safe fracking is, and we need to be like the US, and England.
          Did you miss the point I made that the articles subject is intertwined with the UK desire for shale, or were you foaming so much, it’s obscuring your vision?
          How is it not interlinked with this latest disproportionate attack on the Scots. I’m pleased to see Scottish Renewables are going to seek legal advice about the loss of investment, jobs etc.
          My experience is that the critics of wind farms are uninformed about how cost effective they are, and how much they are already contributing to our consumption, around 50%.
          Just sick about hearing that old chant about the poor birds, which is ill founded.

          1. sandy ritchie says:

            Well Valerie you’ll be pleased to know I’m not foaming at the mouth..or maybe you’re not. I agree that if you live near Grangemouth you really should attend any meeting either for or against fracking. However if you don’t live there I respectively suggest its nowt to do with you…just leave it to the local people who it is likely to affect ..either from the environmental impact or jobs. Apart from that I’m sure any “twitcher” who reads your informed …lol… view on bird strikes at wind farms may wish to comment.

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      Planning policies have generally been effective in steering onshore wind farms to the most appropriate locations and minimising adverse effects on the environment.

      1. Valerie says:

        @Sandy Ritchie – nowt to do with me? Spoken like a child of Thatcher, there is no such thing as society, eh? Of course fracking in any area of Scotland should concern us all, retro fitting gas fields around housing, air borne particulate, toxins travelling underground contaminating drinking water?

        Sadly for you, there are around 30 community based anti fracking groups, and 2 Scottish ones, constantly exchanging info, but I’m sure you know this.

        The American and Australian experiences of this filthy industry are horrendous. Rudd announced just a week ago about powering on with shale, then this announcement. So we can presume the Tories want to redirect the monies into their nuclear project or fracking.

        They literally make me sick at the way they shit on this country. Those lost subsidies are hundreds of jobs lost too.

        1. sandy ritchie says:

          “A child of Thatcher”??. I nearly spluttered in by lager Valerie. So anyone who has reservations about wind farms or fracking is a right wing Tory in your eyes. Very presumptious and if I may say so….insulting, as you no nowt about me. Having said that I’ve become immune to the ludicrous intemperate language by a few Indies …most are sensible and willing to debate these issues in a polite manner.
          If you are able to let the red…sorry yellow.. mist clear for a second, you would have noticed that I was not against wind energy per se. Equally I’m not in favour of fracking until a full risk assessment.. and full consultation with local people has been carried out..Neither should be dictated by central government, be it WM or Holyrood. That seems to me a sensible moferate approach …

          1. Hettie (@fawkirkbairn) says:

            @ Sandy Richie Waiting for a risk assessment? Does this mean you are prepared to have a fracking operation in your back yard or is it that you live no where near a proposed fracking site, which is it?

          2. sandy ritchie says:

            Hettie…wind farms or fracking should require a full environmental risk assessment AND support of the local population. Neither should be imposed by central government if the RA highlights environmental issues OR the local population are against fracking or wind farms. By the same token if both the RA and local population are enthusiastic about wind farms or fracking then I see no objection to them not going ahead. Both will provide jobs to the local economy. So in answer to your question… No I wouldn’t want fracking or wind farms anywhere near my house…off shore wind farms and tidal energy is the way forward…in my opinion

    3. Thanks Sandy, but I never argued that onshore wind should be the sole energy source, but is an essential part of the mix. It’s currently the cheapest as I outlined.

      The subsidies you mentioned are not exclusively to ‘wealthy landowners’ not do they need to be.

    4. Karen says:

      I agree but until they are, on shore wind power should not be disbanded. Also not everyone finds them an eyesore. There are many more hideous, less productive eyesores blighting the nation than the Telly Tubby windmills.

      1. sandy ritchie says:

        The John Muir Trust would disagree

  2. Lesley Docksey says:

    “Speaking to business leaders in London last night, Amber Rudd said it was time to shift subsidies from onshore wind to other technologies that needed them more.”

    She couldn’t possibly be speaking about the subsidies planned for the EDF venture at Hinkley Point and planned new nuclear power stations elsewhere could she? Offering subsidies is the only way the government can get corporations like EDF to be brave enough to take these projects on (and yes, I know EDF is a national French energy firm, but it is still a corporation in my book).
    But there is a fly in the ointment for Rudd and her ilk. To quote Reuters:

    Austria ready to sue over subsidized nuclear plants
    Reuters, Vienna 27 May
    Austria will take legal action to block any subsidized nuclear power plants in an effort to discourage use of the technology in Europe and scare off investors, the country’s environment minister, Andrae Rupprechter, said in a newspaper interview.
    Rupprechter’s comments reflect non-nuclear Austria’s tough stance, as evidenced by its intent to take the European Commission to court over approval of Britain’s plans for the Hinkley Point nuclear plant.
    Neighboring Czech Republic also plans to extend its nuclear capacity.
    “Should other countries present similar subsidy plans, we will fight these in court,” the minister said in the interview published on Wednesday, saying such state backing hindered the rollout of renewable energy technology.
    “Giving preference to nuclear power is unacceptable. Nuclear energy is neither safe nor economical. A lawsuit may also make potential investors hesitant.”

    Have we really got ourselves one of the most dangerously daft governments ever?

    Cue for trolls….

    1. bringiton says:

      If recent reports are correct about structural failures in the containment vessels of these reactors are correct,then the best laid plans might gang agley.
      The Tories don’t do dependency and the idea of being in hock to a foreign power (Scotland)
      is the only explanation for the vast amount of tax payers’ money they were/are prepared to throw at the nuclear option.
      Unfortunately,even if we don’t host any of these dodgy reactors,we are going to have to pay for them.
      Better Together.

      1. sandy ritchie says:

        I think you’ll find that 8 of the 9 nuclear power stations in GB are owned by EDF energy…a French Company. The Tories are not shy of selling off our manufacturing base …even to Scots if they thought itd make a buck

  3. Bill says:

    I think we kind of saw this coming when they took back the renewable energy as reserved to Westminster Everything they do now will be to the detriment of Scotland in a re-run of what happened in 1979 after we voted for devolution. It’s Thatcherism all over again as they try to rip the guts out of Scotland AGAIN!! You would think that they would give up and realise that even if they rip the guts out of Scotland, they can never rip the heart out of us!! SAOR ALBA GU BRATH!!

  4. barakabe says:

    The wholescale shift of Western Civilization to the Right has forced all political debate to a reductive ‘what party can we trust with the economy’- hence the reduction of the referendum to the pound/oil/pensions/capital-bank flight etc- & this in turn means who can best ease the transit of big business towards ever larger profits. The Tory’s are total dinosaurs & yet they win a majority at the last election. The Republicans in America have already promised to overrule domestic regulations and laws set by the likes of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission if they win the next campaign. We bailout big casino banks who speculate on the roulette of monetary markets like demented gambling addicts by giving them more public money to continue doing it- we allow petro-chemical companies to drill for more oil & gas in the Arctic even though we know (beyond any reasonable doubt) that we are cooking ourselves to extinction…we need a revolution before these bastards do us all in.

  5. Karen says:

    Not to mention the opportunity to give Scotland another good kicking just for the hell of it. Westminster is disabling Scotland more by the day. We need out as soon as we can before they totally destroy our economy.

  6. Broadbield says:

    I heard her pathetic prepared speech on GMS this morning – you see, bill payers are having to pay for these subsidies and it was in our manifesto. So that’s alright then, meanwhile, we fork out ever escalating billions for cleaning up and decommissioning nuclear reactors – remember those were the ones that produced electricity “too cheap to meter”? So successful was the nuclear experiment that we are now going to subsidise France and China to build new ones for us – so that’s more billions on bill payers’ accounts.

    And, oh yes, just remembered, we sold the state-owned electricity companies to private investors, so that they could reduce all our bills….and make the new (often foreign) owners rich in-line with the Tory philosophy of transferring wealth southwards and then upwards.

    You couldn’t make it up.

  7. bringiton says:

    Voting No last September was a vote for continuing dependency on the “benevolence” of England’s governments and No say in the major decisions affecting Scotland’s future.
    England’s Tories are set on a course of trashing Scotland’s industries,yet again,and unfortunately there is little we can do about it.
    Ignorance is No excuse,legally or morally,so let’s hope next time people will see sense.

  8. Bill Fraser says:

    What a stupid decision.This has to be fought tooth and nail for defeat.What are they thinking of down there?

  9. Shaun says:

    Is there no way for the Scottish Government to subsidise wind power in Scotland?

  10. Stone-circle says:

    Someone needs to give Akon a call

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