The Scottish Energy Minister has called on the UK Government to fulfil the commitment made in the Queen’s Speech and consult with the Scottish Government before any decisions are taken on windfarm subsidies.
Mr Ewing wrote to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, in light of recent reports that the UK Government will shortly announce the end of onshore subsidies. In the letter, Mr Ewing said that the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) must also consult with the energy industry, given the importance of the pipeline of planned investment in helping ensure energy security across the UK at a time of increasingly tight margins between electricity demand and supply.
“I welcome the commitment in the Queen’s Speech that there will be consultation with the Devolved Administrations on changes to subsidies for onshore wind farms and I look forward to that consultation” Mr Ewing said. “However I am concerned about recent statements coming from your Department relating to proposed changes in support for renewable energy. Any lack of clarity has the potential to stall a very substantial pipeline of investment in the UK and Scotland and dent the UK and Scotland’s reputation with developers and investors.”
The Scottish Energy Minister added that the Scottish Government has not yet received any information from DECC regarding the possible options the department is considering or what analysis has been done to assess the impact on projects in Scotland. Given the importance of the renewables sector to Scotland and prior commitments to consult, Mr Ewing is seeking reassurance that the UK Government will not make any changes to the subsidy arrangements for onshore wind without agreement from Scottish Ministers.
Mr Ewing said that given the obvious disquiet within the sector, DECC should engage with the businesses involved and their trade bodies in order to reassure them that any changes to the subsidy regime are being taken forward in a considered and planned way, but also to ensure that DECC retains good faith with these businesses and organisations who are integral to the future energy security of both the UK and Scotland.
The concern of the Scottish Energy Minister regarding this issue follows the recent announcement by trade association RenewableUK that it would consider legal action against the Government if the Renewables Obligation (RO) was closed down a year early.