ALBA Depute Leader Kenny MacAskill will this evening (Tuesday) use a Commons Debate to slam the “robbery of Scotland’s rich energy bounty while half of all Scots households face fuel poverty this winter.”
Mr MacAskill will use the debate to highlight that the Eastern Link undersea cable, a multi-billion pound infrastructure project – will transport 4 GigaWatt of electricity south, via high-voltage direct current subsea cables, enough to power 2.8 million homes. Two undersea cables will run, one from Peterhead in northeast Scotland to Selby, North Yorkshire and another from Torness, in his constituency of East Lothian, to Hawthorn Point, County Durham.
Mr MacAskill is demanding to know what the people of Scotland will receive in return in the form of jobs, including supply chain jobs, financial payments, both to the Scottish Government and Local councils and what the community benefit will be?
Speaking in the debate Mr MacAskill will state:
“Scotland has been bestowed with a great natural bounty.
“Scotland has 60% of Britain’s onshore wind capacity and 25% of Europe’s potential offshore wind. References to the Saudi Arabia of wind, largely refer to Scotland or Scottish waters.
“What’s clear is that Scotland’s natural bounty and the current grid constraint to access markets show the need for the Eastern Link. It builds on the existing grid and allows for additional capacity. That my own constituency has been chosen’s also logical.
“The site near Torness is on the existing national grid with the nuclear power station there. And it’s there and up the coast at Cockenzie, at the site of the old coal power station, again on the national grid, where major offshore wind fields will come ashore. The site in Aberdeenshire has been chosen for similar reasons and the destination points in England are near existing power stations.
“So, the project will ease the capacity issues on the existing grid. It’s therefore a sensible project and one that everyone should support. Its construction is not the issue, nor should it be in dispute.
“But where’s the windfall for Scotland as a nation from this natural bounty? Where’s the wealth that should flow along with the energy from this vital resource?
“Where’s the benefit for those communities, such as my own in East Lothian, which will be able to see the turbines on their hills and off their shores. Scotland is Energy Rich, yet Scots are fuel poor?
“It is no comfort to those unable to heat their homes in my constituency that they may see the turbines turning either on or offshore. Indeed, that just adds insult to injury.
“What’s in it for them and for their Nation from this natural bounty, that our land and communities have been blessed with?
“Where’s the payment for or financial compensation for our renewable energy, being taken south or even sold abroad?
“Where’s the jobs in Scotland and in its communities from the industry itself that should follow, never mind the supply chain required to maintain it?
“Where’s the businesses that should be locating next to this clean and cheap energy, along with the technology that’s required for it and even springs from it?
“The turbines that are coming off our shores, should see our current yards vibrant and almost every estuary in Scotland required for their construction. Yet BiFab and Arnish lie dormant, and the work is going south or abroad, whether to the Netherlands or even Indonesia. That’s simply unacceptable and with energy policy largely reserved the UK government must take the blame.
“Where’s the payment for the resource being transmitted south. What cash has been received or compensation made for the asset taken?
It seems that the payment to the Scottish Government amounts to precisely zero? There’s nothing being paid in either regular payments for the energy provided or even a lump sum in lieu. The only payment to be made will be a very modest remittance to Crown Estate Scotland for the cabling landing on the foreshore. A few bawbees, as we say in Scotland, hardly what’s received in Saudi Arabia or Norway for their natural bounty.
In conclusion Mr MacAskill will state:
“The Eastern Link project deserves support. But there must be compensation for Scotland for the energy flowing from it as there must be benefit for the communities where it lands.
Following on from its first natural bounty in oil and gas, Scotland has been blessed with a second in offshore wind. It’s essential that our country and her communities now benefit from it.”