Scottish government challenged over publicly owned renewables

By staff writers
22 Sep 2011

Publicly-owned renewable projects deserve a far greater role in Scotland's economic and energy future, Scottish Greens are arguing.

A new target of 500 megawatts of "community and locally-owned renewable energy" by 2020 was announced in the Spending Review yesterday (21 September 2011).

But public or community ownership of renewables received a minimal mention.

The Scottish Greens argue that empowering local authorities to create local energy companies could deliver decades of substantial and independent income to cash-strapped public funds.

The Greens have repeatedly urged Scottish Ministers to accept that tackling climate change means an urgent end to fossil fuel extraction, not just an expansion of renewable energy.

They have lodged an amendment in the 22 September low carbon economy debate calling for Ministers to rule out any further oil exploration and the use of unconventional fossil fuels such as shale gas in Scotland.

Patrick Harvie MSP commented: "In addition to reducing our demand for energy, perhaps the best investment we could make at present would be a massive programme of publicly owned renewables, with every council empowered to set up a locally-owned energy company."

He continued: "John Swinney yesterday talked about making use of local government borrowing powers - he should act now to ensure that these powers are used to create a renewable legacy for every community. Rather than seeing the big energy companies taking all the rewards, we should take early action to keep a share of the economic benefit from renewables in public hands."

"Despite everything we are told about the Government's vision of a sustainable Scotland, Ministers are still talking up the prospect of another fifty years of oil and gas extraction at every opportunity. Making the transition to a low-carbon economy also means planning the end of the fossil fuel and nuclear economy and Greens call for an immediate end to Government support for risky oil and gas exploration in Scotland," said Mr Harvie.

[Ekk/3]

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