Energy debate is missing the point, say Scottish Greens

By staff writers
April 30, 2011

The continuing squabble over renewables targets in the Scottish Parliamentary election debate is missing the key issues, say Scottish Greens.

The party, which is defending two seats and looking for more, says that the real emphasis should be on community- and publicly-owned renewables, on energy efficiency, and on a broader mix of energy sources, not just onshore wind.

Co-leader Patrick Harvie, who has been excluded from TV debates featuring the other four of the five parlaimentary parties in Scotland, said yesterday: "Essential though well-sited windfarms are, nobody is suggesting that they can be the sole basis for Scotland's energy revolution. There's an urgent need for smaller and community-run renewables projects as part of a decentralised energy system, and these kind of projects can also build serious community support."

"Beyond that," he added, "local authorities need support to start building the kind of local energy projects which can bring in revenue that's sustainable in every sense. Labour and the SNP, despite some clear ambition on large scale renewables, are missing this opportunity - and each is holding the door open either to new nuclear or coal-fired power stations. Neither has yet grasped the opportunity to commit to a real national energy efficiency drive. The cheapest power station is the one you don't have to build."

"But the anti-renewables crowd is the most damaging element in this debate. The author of the John Muir Trust's recent report admitted that his preference was for nuclear power, and that he thought the risks of climate change had been overplayed. The science is against them, and so too is public opinion. When you don't need a wind turbine any more, you dismantle it and take it away. When a nuclear plant reaches the end of its life the waste must be stored safely for generations at astronomical expense, leaving aside all the other risks and costs associated with that dead-end technology," declared Harvie.

He concluded: "There is a serious choice ahead of us. Scotland can go down the dead ends and failed technologies of the past while other countries claim the economic benefits and power ahead of us. Alternatively, a second vote for the Greens is a vote for our future as an 'energy-generating democracy', where households, community projects, businesses and the public sector all play a part in building Scotland's high tech renewables businesses, and all retain a stake in the profits of this vital industry."


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