The UK Government must stop stalling and back island renewables now, says MP Angus B MacNeil.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar’s SNP MP took part in a meeting with Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in Stornoway this morning (Monday) and urged him to make the right decision on future support for island renewables.
Mr MacNeil said the final decision to be made by Mr Clark on this matter will have repercussions for the island economy for many years to come.
Speaking after the meeting Mr MacNeil said: “It was a constructive and useful meeting and of course we thank the Secretary of State for his visit to the islands against the backdrop of the islands not being included in the last round of Contract for Difference (CfDs).
“However we were given a straw to clutch to in the form of the current consultation on future CfDs which is ongoing. I pressed the Secretary of State as to when we might see a conclusion to that and when we might be able to move forward, however it remains unclear when that will conclude, however he did say he was personally engaged.
“I asked the Secretary of State about the particular constraints he faced to including the islands in the next round of CfD. He said those were the Tory party’s manifesto commitment to end support for onshore renewables – which are of course the cheapest form of renewables; the cost to consumer’s bills; and the policy approach to offshore renewables.
“My view is that the islands were not in the past considered to be in the ‘onshore renewables’ category so therefore should not be considered to be now but in a very different category. Also islands have to face different connection costs and rules to offshore, but despite those handicaps make more sense.”
He continued: “In the midst of all this it should be borne in mind that the energy industry cannot bring forward any form of generation without subsidy and the biggest support at the moment is going to nuclear so this boils down to political choices.
“Islands renewables are better value for money to the consumer than some other forms in regards the cost to the consumer. Further, the merit order effect as it is known, is bringing down the cost of energy as previously installed renewable capacity provides very cheap energy and this will continue.
“An investment today in renewables in the islands, would mean savings tomorrow.
“There is no Government in Europe that would look a gift horse in the mouth, the Saudi Arabia of wind energy that is the west coast of Scotland.
“If any other Government in Europe was making this decision we would have had a green light long ago and we would be seeing the benefits to communities now.
“In the meantime we are having to wait for London to make up their minds. Our best hope in all of this in that Government, is Greg Clarke who has a good understanding of Energy, and I hope he will make the right decision for the islands, bearing in mind islands squares with his party manifesto and gives better value for money for consumers.”