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‘Less reckless’ approach to protect wind industry from Brexit, says Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking at the Scottish Renewables Annual Conference. Photography: Tim Edgeler.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that a “less reckless approach to Brexit” will help prevent Scotland’s wind sector from being “compromised”.

Calling the onshore wind sector “central to Scotland’s energy mix”, said Ms Sturgeon said UK Government policy “effectively stopped new developments from having a route to market”, calling it “incredibly counterproductive”.

Speaking at Scottish Renewables’ annual conference in Edinburgh, she said: “Onshore wind is and will continue to be, in my view, central to Scotland’s energy mix. However, UK Government policies at present effectively stop new developments from having a route to market and that strikes us as being incredibly counterproductive.

“So we agree with many people across the sector that the UK Government should allow onshore wind to compete in Contract for Difference (CfD) auctions against other energy technologies.”

She also spoke about what she considers a “moral imperative” to ensure a fair deal for consumers within the energy transition and that Scotland must be allowed to continue to grow its renewables industry “having gained a position of global leadership”.

Asked whether she believed Brexit could mean less large offshore wind developments and test centres, like Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm, she said: “I certainly hope not and our challenge is to make sure that that is not the impact of Brexit. The reason for talking about this and being pretty clear about what some of the risks and downsides are that I think it makes us more able to understand collectively how we avoid some of those risks and downsides.

“I make no bones about it, I think if we take a less reckless approach to Brexit than the one that appears to be being pursued then some of those risks minimise. If we don’t do that then these challenges will be bigger. But our absolute determination – and I can tell you that this government has that determination – is to make sure that we don’t allow the potential of the recent success of the renewables sector to be compromised if we can possibly avoid that.”

Ms Sturgeon also said Scotland is in a unique position to grow the renewables sector due to the country’s relationship with North Sea oil and gas.

She said: “We’ll only have a global, successful supply chain here if it’s competitive. The good news is we’ve seen it done before. Oil and gas is the living, breathing example of how this can be done and I think we’re going in the right direction in Scotland but we need to make sure we’re doing the right things to accelerate that progress.”

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