Last weeks winds were frightening. My stairs roof was damaged and driving south to Newcastle for a train, the carnage of trees was obvious. For long Scotland’s climate has been a nuisance, even dangerous. But there’s one aspect in which it’s now a boon.
Scotland has 25% of Europe’s offshore wind capacity. All across the county there’s evidence of offshore winds arrival. Whether that’s briefings in village halls, construction sites for transmission stations or ships on the Forth carrying out investigations for cabling.
It’s potential’s huge. The Berwick Bank Development that’s coming ashore at Branxton will produce enough energy to power double Scotland’s households. Its why its also being cabled south to Redcar. But where’s the benefit for East Lothian or even Scotland in jobs or financial benefit.
It was the subject of a debate I lead in Parliament last week, as its something that must be addressed urgently. Scotland discovered oil and gas over 50 years ago. But whilst Norway on the other side of the North Sea was revitalised and possesses a fund for future generations, the wealth largely past Scotland. That mustn’t be repeated with offshore wind.
A few sites in the north are preparing for turbine construction but most and including those on the Forth across in Fife lie empty. That’s just not good enough. Yards on the Humber and Tees are booming building turbines for the wind farms of their coasts. But where’s ours?
Similarly, where the energy lands should be where businesses want to locate as it should offer a cheap and plentiful supply. But whilst housebuilding is going on at pace, there’s little signs of the businesses that should be flowing from the wind.
Finally, Shetland managed to negotiate a deal to benefit from the oil coming ashore. At the moment onshore wind provides for community benefit. But it should apply offshore as well, and be set nationally and payable directly to the community, not be at the whim of the developer.
Sadly, the Tory Minister said little that was heartening. We’ve been warned. We missed out on oil but we mustn’t on renewables.