Kenny MacAskill: There’s one area where our nation’s geography and climate are not just to our advantage but are also a positive blessing, and that’s in renewable energy. Being located where we are offers opportunities and our weather affords natural advantages. That should allow for a competitive advantage for our businesses and cost reduction for our consumers. Those advantages could go some way to offsetting the natural challenges faced. Sadly, the opportunity isn’t being properly grasped by a UK government fixated on nuclear energy, irrespective of cost or security and imposing tariff barriers through grid connection charges that are not just unfavourable but perverse. The distance-from-market challenge to Scottish business is compounded by a charging methodology in energy that penalises the natural bounty. That was compounded by the failure last week to support the tidal energy scheme in the Pentland Firth. Of course, it floats on and, it is to be hoped, will still survive the buffeting but it’s not what it should be. The passage is one of the great natural tidal areas in the world. Rather than a challenge for navigators, it could be a natural provider of energy, not just for Scotland but for the entire UK. Some estimates suggest that eight per cent of UK energy alone could be provided. The technology is complicated but it can be made to work as other forms of renewable energy, whether wind or solar, have shown in going from prototype to production. This Tory Government is prepared to throw £20 billion at a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point that has been caustically assessed by the National Audit Office, never mind the safety implications from Fukushima and elsewhere. It’s also privately fretted over by the security services, given China’s involvement in its construction. This aspect seems particularly absurd given alleged recent cyber-attacks, never mind the ongoing i ndustrial, if not military, espionage. In ancient civilizations, it was sometimes claimed that decline began when the empire was unable properly to defend itself. The Tories are shamefully dissipating our natural asset for their nuclear folly.
Herald 19th Sept 2017 read more »