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UK Ministers accused of ‘complacency’ over renewables industry

Wind farm news.
Renewables news

The UK Government has been accused of displaying “worrying complacency” about the future of the renewable energy industry.

Pete Wishart, chair of the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, said ministers have failed to respond to concerns about the impact changes to subsidies will have on future development plans.

He called on the UK Government to do more to work with representatives of the industry and the Scottish Government to help develop the green energy sector.

It comes after the committee called on ministers to make clear their future support after decisions such as the early closure of the Renewables Obligation scheme to onshore wind projects.

Industry body Scottish Renewables has previously warned this could cost Scotland up to £3 billion in lost investment and put 5,400 jobs at risk.

But in the UK Government’s response to the committee’s report, Energy Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said “significant further deployment” is expected in Scotland over the coming years.

She said: “The deployment of renewables in Scotland continues to rise, driven by the support received as a result of UK Government policies.”

Figures from the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show total deployment of renewables in Scotland stood at over 7.7 gigawatts (GW) in 2015, a rise of 6% on 2014 and 57% higher than in 2008.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe added: “Scotland’s total renewable electricity capacity accounts for around a quarter of total UK capacity in 2015 (30.5GW).

“Because of these successes and the relative size of the renewables sector in Scotland, we recognise that the changes in support for renewable technologies have raised concerns about the impact on the industry.”

But she added the Government had to act “in the light of the unexpectedly rapid growth in renewables”, saying this had “contributed to a significant forecast overspend” in subsidies.

“These costs are ultimately borne by all consumers and there is an onus on Government to strike the right balance between supporting new technologies and being tough on subsidies to keep bills as low as possible,” she added.

“The UK Government remains firmly committed to the renewables industry across the UK and it is important to note that Scotland has benefited proportionately more than the rest of the UK under existing policies and will continue to benefit under future investment in energy and energy efficiency.”

But Mr Wishart claimed the response from the Government “shows a worrying complacency”.

The SNP MP added: “They are right to recognise the strong performance of Scotland’s renewable sector, but they have not responded to the voices of those in the industry who have told us that
they are facing an uncertain future.

“We are told that everything is fine, but where are the reassurances to the renewable sector that the support will be there to encourage the development of new plants and new technologies?
Where is the investment in infrastructure?

“They have provided us with a tacit admission that they think onshore wind has reached its limit, let us hope that is not their view of the industry as a whole.

“Scotland has been way ahead of the rest of the United Kingdom when it comes to renewable energy. The Government should be celebrating this and doing everything it can to ensure this success continues into the future, not cutting support and reducing confidence.”

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