Welcome for Scots renewables jobs success and opposition to fracking

By staff writers
14 Jan 2014

Research by Scottish Renewables suggests 11,695 people are currently in full-time jobs in the sector, up five per cent on the previous year, with Glasgow, the Lothians, Highlands & Islands and the North East employing the most people.

The news comes as fracking and related unconventional gas extraction technologies, premised on further use of damaging carbon resources, face further criticism from environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth Scotland, while the UK government tries ever-hard to push them forward.

A member of Holyrood's economy and energy committee has welcomed figures showing growth in employment in the renewables industry in Scotland.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, commented: "With Scotland's natural assets it's heartening to see the renewable energy industry continuing to grow. We're seeing the creation of highly-skilled, secure jobs across the country, and we must encourage more of this type of employment. We must also strive to ensure that women form part of this growing workforce."

She added: "We must also be alert to the dangerous distraction that is unconventional gas. The UK Government's tax breaks and the PR hype engineered by vested interests risk locking us in to yet more dirty energy when the opportunity to capitalise on our clean resources has never been more important.

"AI urge the Scottish Government to look at harnessing maximum public benefit from the renewables revolution by supporting the creation of locally-owned energy companies. We must help public bodies and community groups pursue district heating, wind, wave and hydro."

Meanwhile, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said that ministers at Holyrood had no plans to use their powers to follow Mr Cameron’s "dash for shale gas".

She explained: “There are no proposals which involve the use of fracking techniques in Scotland at this time, and the Scottish Government will follow a rigorous evidence-based approach in the development and deployment of this technology.

“As with proposals for all types of energy projects, any applications for coalbed methane or shale gas projects in Scotland will be studied on their merits. Each proposal will be considered through the normal planning process and the appropriate regulatory regimes.”

Ms Johnstone said that fracking would not bring down energy bills and create jobs as Mr Cameron has claimed.

She declared: "The tax breaks and the ex-PR man’s hyperbole risk locking us in to yet more dirty energy when we should be capitalising on our clean resources and investing in energy efficiency.

“Fracking won’t bring down energy bills for consumers as the scale of drilling required simply can’t happen, and we will remain vulnerable to gas price volatility on the international markets.”

Lang Banks, director of environmental charity WWF Scotland, also warned against more fracking, saying: “If we’re really serious about tackling climate change the last thing ministers should be doing is finding yet more ways to support the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.”

Mary Church, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said, "Communities across Scotland will be alarmed to discover that despite growing evidence about the harmful impacts of unconventional gas drilling and fracking, the UK Government is determined to go ahead with plans to squeeze as much as they can out of some of the most populated parts of the country.

"If the industry think that offering money to communities with fracking in their back yards will put an end to growing resistance to this new source of fossil fuel, they are onto a loser.

"Communities facing these kind of developments here in Scotland and across the UK are already well connected to people around the world suffering from the immediate local environmental and health impacts of the industry, and they won't be bought off so easily," she said.

* Scottish Renewables: http://www.scottishrenewables.com

* Friends of the Earth Scotland: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/

[Ekk/3]

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