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Scottish Nationalists Demand Veto Over Wind Subsidies

Simon Johnson, The Daily Telegraph

Scotland’s First Minister says the UK Government should not cut taxpayer funding for onshore wind without her permission as energy experts warn about the cost.

Nicola Sturgeon has demanded that David Cameron give her a veto over cutting taxpayer subsidies for wind farms as experts warned MSPs that “over-egging” renewable energy will lead to increased consumer bills and intermittent supply.

She said the new UK Government should not change the public funding for onshore wind schemes “without agreement from Scottish ministers” after the Tory election manifesto promised to curb the spread of turbines by stopping any new subsidy.

Outlining a list of eight energy demands, she also called for the delivery of more connections from renewable schemes on the Scottish islands and funding for carbon capture and pump storage schemes.

But Holyrood’s energy committee heard how Scotland in course to lose 55 per cent of its electricity generating capacity, leaving the country dependent on importing power from south of the border.

The coal-fired Longannet power station is due to close next year, while Torness and Hunterston nuclear plants, which generate about a third of the country’s electricity, are due to shut by 2023.

Longannet is due to close next year

SNP ministers have blocked the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants north of the Border, instead setting a target to generate the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity sources form 2020 by the end of the decade.

But Professor Colin McInnes, James Watt chair of Glasgow University’s school of engineering, told MSPs the closure of the nuclear plants and Longannet means a “reconfiguration of our energy supply from one which is dependable to one which is intermittent.”

Speaking during a round-table discussion on energy security, he added: “We can talk about investments in storage and investments in interconnection capacity – it’s a cost and that cost is borne by the consumer either directly through electricity bills or indirectly through increased cost to business, which are passed onto consumers.

“I’m not against renewable energy at all but I do worry that we’re over-egging onshore wind to the long-term detriment to affordable electrical energy, not just in Scotland but UK wide.”

Professor Ian Arbon, spokesman for energy and environment in Scotland for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “I think we need to look at security of supply at the 80 per cent of our energy that comes from fossil fuels and will continue to come from fossil fuels in the heat and transport sectors.”

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