In her keynote speech to the SNP conference, Nicola Sturgeon announced that the Scottish Government will set up an energy company by 2021, while residents of Ulva have been given permission to buy their island
SCOTLAND’S FIRST MINISTER has announced that the Scottish Government will set up a publicly owned, not-for-profit energy company by 2021.
Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement in her keynote speech at the SNP conference in Glasgow, and said that renewable energy would be bought or generated in Scotland and sold to customers as “close to cost price as possible”.
Sturgeon told the conference that the new company will run on not-for-profit basis, it will have no shareholders and it will not have to pay any corporate bonuses.
Sturgeon said: “It would give people – particularly those on low incomes – more choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers.”
“[The new energy company] would give people – particularly those on low incomes – more choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers.” Nicola Sturgeon
The announcement comes after a manifesto pledge in for last year’s Holyrood election to look into the option of setting up an energy company.
The speech featured a raft of policy announcements, including young care leavers being exempt from paying council tax; schools, colleges and universities offering free sanitary products from the new academic year next August; and the establishment of a £6m rural tourism infrastructure fund.
Sturgeon also announced that her government will grant permission to allow the residents of Ulva to bring their island into public ownership.
In recent months, the island, which is just off the west coast of Mull, sought permission to follow in footsteps of Eigg.
“One of the group’s key objectives is to increase Ulva’s population and other small communities should take encouragement from the group’s ambitious plans.” Roseanna Cunningham
Now, the local residents in Ulva will be able to raise money to buy out the land with a view to attracting new residents to the island by increasing economic activity and housing stock on the island.
Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Government’s land reform secretary, said: “The North West Mull Community Woodland Company is the first organisation to use community right to buy powers to register interest in buying an island. One of the group’s key objectives is to increase Ulva’s population and other small communities should take encouragement from the group’s ambitious plans.
“Community right to buy, which we expanded through the Community Empowerment Act in 2015 and Land Reform legislation in 2016, is unlocking potential in our urban, rural and island communities and giving local people a say in their future.”
On Scottish independence, Sturgeon told the conference that her party “will always make the case for independence”.
She said: “Choosing your own future. Being in charge of the decisions that shape your destiny.
“And we are the party of independence.” Nicola Sturgeon
“Being in the driving seat and not simply at the mercy of events.
“That is the essence of independence. And we are the party of independence.”
Sturgeon added: “The case for independence doesn’t depend on Brexit.
“But Brexit does show us what can happen when we don’t control our own future.” Nicola Sturgeon
“But Brexit does show us what can happen when we don’t control our own future.
“Over the years, there have been many decisions taken at Westminster that I disagree with. But in the course of my lifetime, there have been three defining moments when a decision taken there has changed fundamentally our country’s path.”
The three events that Sturgeon was referring to was when Westminster decided not to set up an oil fund in the 1970s when oil was found in the North Sea, and after the financial crash in 2008 when Westminster faced a choice between “stimulate the economy or impose austerity”, and chose austerity.
The third point was about Brexit. Sturgeon said: “Westminster is pursuing the hardest possible Brexit, knowing that it will make us all poorer”.
“When we think about those wasted opportunities, it should make us all the more determined that, in future, we will do things differently.” Nicola Sturgeon
She said: “Just think if those decisions had been taken in Scotland. The difference could be dramatic. The security of a multi-billion pound oil fund.
“Investment, not Tory-imposed austerity. And a country at the heart of Europe.”
Sturgeon added: “When we think about those wasted opportunities, it should make us all the more determined that, in future, we will do things differently.
“It should make us determined to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”
Picture courtesy of David Thomson
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