Scottish Tory proposals to shift renewable energy policy away from onshore wind would hit jobs and economic development while driving up household energy bills, it was claimed last night.
The Conservatives want to see a cut in the number of onshore windfarms with more support for other forms of renewable energy such as wave, tidal and small hydro schemes.
New nuclear power plants would be built and more done to exploit fossil fuels including shale gas.
Under the proposed shake-up, launched by the Tories yesterday, councils would get the power to halt all windfarm applications for a year and homeowners compensated for lost property values from wind turbines.
Orkney Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur said meeting climate change and emission reduction targets — supported by all main parties including the Tories –required the full exploitation of renewable energy resources.
“The Tories should think carefully about the increasingly hostile and populist rhetoric they are using in relation to wind energy,” he said.
“Undermining confidence and investment in the sector will do nothing for jobs and wealth creation, or our efforts to de-carbonise our economy.”
Holyrood energy committee member SNP MSP Chic Brodie said the Tory policy showed they were “ludicrously out of touch with the needs of people.” Nuclear energy was only possible with “eye-watering levels of subsidy” that would drive up household bills, he said.
Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said: “It’s very simple, if you want to protect consumers from rising energy prices you must ensure more of our electricity and heat comes from renewable energy sources.”
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said the party’s energy policy review, Power with Responsibility, did not “focus narrowly” on one particular part of the industry to meet demand.
She said: “Crucial to keeping the lights on in years to come is an energy mix made up of renewables, nuclear and oil and gas.
“If we get this balance right then we can minimise the cost for consumers and the impact on our communities up and down the country.”
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “These proposals are ill-thought.”