Scotland dominates UK wind wealth yet Scottish Tories brand wind power "single-minded"

High hopes for Scottish wind on the line as Tories in Holyrood maintain subsidy cut position

AROUND HALF of all the jobs and turnover in onshore wind energy sector across the UK is in Scotland despite Tory cuts, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The number of workers in Scotland employed directly and indirectly in the low carbon and ‎renewables sector rose to 58,500 in 2015, a rise from 43,500 employed the year before.

According to figures from the ONS the low carbon and renewables sector generated £10.5bn.

Despite this growth, the industry lies in jeopardy after cuts to energy subsidies by the UK Government which have slowed incentives to build more windfarms offshore and have threatened Scotland’s status as a renewables leader.

"These figures also underline the importance of onshore wind to Scotland, both in terms of our economy and in creating jobs.” Lang Banks

The Scottish Tories have also maintained its position that support for wind power would be “singled minded” and have stuck to their policy plan of building two new nuclear plants on the existing sites of Hunterson and Torness.

Commenting on the latest renewable energy figures from the Office for National Statistics WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "It's fantastic to see the number of renewable and low-carbon jobs continuing to rise in Scotland. This growth in green jobs has mainly been driven by stretching government targets followed up by enabling policies and other support.

“If Scotland is to secure all the benefits that a zero-carbon society would bring, it's vital Scottish ministers continue to put in place the policies and support mechanisms needed as well as giving businesses the signals they need to commit to investment and skills training.

"These figures also underline the importance of onshore wind to Scotland, both in terms of our economy and in creating jobs. It's therefore disappointing that the UK Government has ended its support for onshore wind, especially if that results in these jobs figures going down in future. Undermining onshore wind in Scotland will make it far more expensive for the entire UK to meet its climate change obligations."

This growth in green jobs has mainly been driven by stretching government targets followed up by enabling policies and other support.” Lang Banks

Breaking down the ONS figures, Scotland represents 48 per cent of all UK employment, and 53 per cent of all UK profits and turnover, in onshore wind.

In low carbon electricity generation, Scotland holds 33 per cent of all UK employment and 28 per cent of turnover.  

In 2015, the Scottish Tories came out in support of the UK Government decision to end the subsidy for windfarm projects. Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Tories economy spokesperson stated that renewable energy in Scotland could continue to thrive without the need for UK Government subsidy. However, despite this statement and the recent ONS figures a recent report showed that renewables companies expected to lose one in six workers within the next 12 months.

Fraser went on record saying: “We don’t share the single-minded focus of some other parties on onshore wind as a technology, but we do want to see a balanced portfolio of renewable energy making a contribution. We cannot go on pouring subsidy into one technology when targets are already being met. The UK Government is taking the right decisions to protect consumers, and should be commended for doing so.”

Picture courtesy of Robert Cutts

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