SALMOND’S EXIT PROVIDES CHANCE FOR NEW
Answering a question from Andrew Neil about what advice he would give to his successor, Alex Salmond said he would advise him or her not to listen to advice from their predecessor. He said that any new First Minister and SNP Leader should develop their own strategy. This is a sound judgment and let’s hope that whoever takes over from Eck will apply it to the SNP’s catastrophically flawed energy policy. Alex Salmond’s obsession with wind power and his vision of Scotland as the ‘Saudi Arabia of renewables’ left a dreadful legacy of fuel poverty and landscape destruction.
6,000 giant industrial wind turbines have either been erected or are in the planning pipeline in Scotland. The heavily subsidized cost for these concrete and steel monsters is passed straight down the line to consumers, driving up energy bills to an average of £1450 in Scotland. This, in turn, has driven more than one million Scottish households into actual fuel poverty, where more than 10% of their household income (including Housing Benefit or Income Support for Mortgage Interest) goes on household fuel use.
The statistics are shocking. At over 30% of households, Scotland now suffers from higher fuel poverty than any other country in Europe. England is bad enough at 19%, just ahead of France at 16%. The lowest number of households suffering from fuel poverty in the EU is in The Netherlands at only 8%. Average EU figures are around 12%. There is no question that SNP renewable energy policy is to blame. Charging ahead with plans to produce 100% of electricity from renewables by 2020 has led to a surge in household energy bills. It is ironic that throughout the independence referendum campaign the SNP pointed accusingly to the number of food banks in Scotland, blaming the wicked Westminster government for rising poverty, when in fact they have only themselves to blame.
Nicola Sturgeon, who looks like a shoo-in to become First Minister, says the Scottish government is doing "everything it could" to end fuel poverty by 2016, but this is incompatible with actual SNP plans. Forging ahead with a policy that looks set to cover Scotland with a forest of industrial wind turbines will increase, rather than decrease fuel poverty as more and more subsidy is sucked out of people’s pockets and handed over to fat cat energy companies and rich landowners.
The SNP’s windfarm scam has also caused massive damage to Scotland’s iconic landscape. The latest map from the conservation body, the John Muir Trust, shows that industrial turbines are now visible from over 60 per-cent of the Scottish landmass, impacting on tourism and destroying jobs in remote parts of rural Scotland. Negative effects on health and property values for people who have to live close to these useless monstrosities are also well documented.
Maybe, just maybe, the public would tolerate the SNP’s energy policy if it actually worked, but of course it doesn’t. Generating electricity from wind is so unreliable and inefficient that in the coldest days of winter, when we have high pressure over the whole country, the £7 billion pounds’ worth of turbines in Scotland will barely produce enough power to boil a kettle. That’s when we have to rely on fossil-fuel burning gas and coal-fired power stations or nuclear plants to keep the lights on and to stop our OAPs from freezing to death.
But Europe is forcing us to shut down our coal-fired stations and the SNP wont entertain any new nuclear plants, so the future is looking increasingly grim. The solution could be shale gas which Scotland is apparently floating on, but the Greens have convinced their SNP bedfellows that fracking is a bad idea and burning gas increases CO2 emissions, despite the fact that exploiting shale gas in the US has cut their CO2 emissions by 450 million tonnes in the past decade and kick-started the American economy. They’re even about to start exporting shale gas to Scotland.
So let’s hope that Nicola Sturgeon, or whoever wins the leadership of the SNP and becomes our next First Minister, admits that Alex Salmond’s energy policy was a mistake and starts from scratch. Instead of turning Scotland into the Saudi Arabia of renewables, let’s turn our country into the flagship of fracking and by so doing, create thousands of jobs, cut CO2 emissions, save our precious landscape and end fuel poverty.
Struan Stevenson was a Conservative Euro MP for Scotland from 1999 to 2014 and is the author of ‘SO MUCH WIND – The Myth of Green Energy’.