Indy supporters urge Scotland to follow Wales with publicly owned energy company
Independence supporters in Scotland have criticised their government for not following Wales on plans to set up a publicly owned energy company.
Last month Wales’ Minister for Climate Change Julie James announced plans for Wales to have a publicly-owned renewable energy developer.
She said that said energy profits created in Wales would deliver greater benefit for people in Wales.
But no similar plans have emerged in Scotland despite it being the centrepiece of Ms Sturgeon’s main speech to the SNP conference in 2017.
Despite eventually spending £500,000 on consultants and an outline business case, the plans were ditched last year, with Social justice Secretary Shona Robinson saying that the project had been “very, very challenging to do under devolution”.
Independence-supporting Scottish think tank Common Weal has now written to their government demanding in action in light of Wales’ decision to push on with a publicly owned energy company of its own.
Dr Keith Baker, a board member of Common Weal whose research informed the decision to set up Wales’ own publicly owned energy company, accused the Scottish Government of “yet another feeble excuse for inaction”.
“We know full well that they have the powers they need to establish an asset-owning public energy company, not least because we investigated them as part of writing our original policy paper,” he said.
“The facts are plain and simple. The First Minister has twice promised a public energy company, and twice reneged on that promise. The Scottish Government wasted almost half a million pounds of public money on a feasibility study for establishing a retail-only company, which any expert worth their salt could’ve told them for free was a bad idea.”
He added: “The membership of the SNP and Greens have consistently supported establishing exactly the sort of company that the Welsh Government has announced, so we are left to conclude that the resistance comes from their leadership.”
The plans in Wales have themselves however been criticised by the Welsh Conservatives, who said that there was no clarity and no detail about how much they will cost.
Responding to the statement made last month, Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Janet Finch-Saunders MS said: “As we face the ever-pressing issue of climate change and the increasing cost of energy, a new approach to renewable energy is needed in Wales. Unfortunately, Labour’s new plan provides no clarity.
“There has been no detail as to how much money is going to be invested and no clarity as to how this plan will fit with the existing Energy Service.
“Labour ministers must listen to Welsh Conservative plans to establish a £150 million Wales Marine Energy Investment Fund to ensure Wales has access to vast amounts of clean and affordable energy.”
Speaking in the Senedd as she made the announcement, Minister for Climate Change Julie James had said the aim was to “harvest our wind and use it to produce power that directly benefits people in Wales”.
“We will set up a publicly-owned renewable energy developer,” she said. “This is a long-term sustainable investment that puts net zero and the communities of Wales at the heart of the transition we need.
“We are in a climate emergency and our approach is in stark contrast to the UK Government that is focusing on fracking and fossil fuels – opposed by most communities and incompatible with our international obligations.”
With soaring living costs and an ongoing lack of certainty around energy supply, the Minister said the current UK market was “bad for bill payers”.
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