As Alex Salmond claims Scotland’s green energy pledges are transforming the economy, one leading campaigner against wind power has described it as “complete mythology”.
The First Minister yesterday highlighted a number of key energy firms trading in Scotland, with international turbine manufacturers Mitsubishi, Gamesa, Samsun and 2-B Energy involved in the offshore wind farm industry north of the Border.
Renewables accounts for more than 11,000 posts. The growing focus on offshore developments could create up to 28,000 new jobs and indirectly support a further 20,000 by 2020, he claimed.
However, Tory MEP Struan Stevenson said: “These figures are complete mythology. A recent academic report found that, for every one job created by renewables, 3.5 will be destroyed in the wider economy.
“This is because of the huge increase in costs in producing renewables that are being passed directly down the line to the consumer. The consumers are not just householders, but businesses too.
“That is why the newly elected government of Spain has pulled the plug on all further subsidies for wind turbines.”
Mr Stevenson said he recently met with an overseas company doing business in England which is relocating to Egypt because of rising electricity bills.
He added: “This is absolutely genuine and it is going to happen in Scotland.”
The Holyrood Government cited UK Department of Energy and Climate Change figures which illustrate that further reliance on green energy could lead to a lower average household energy bill of £1285, with “business as usual” leaving an average bill of £1379.
Consumer Focus Scotland said each household spent around £100 of their energy bill on meeting renewable and other social commitments.
It also found that by 2020 the part of the bill funding large-scale green energy production would peak at £95 per household with the lower bills largely achieved by greater energy efficiency in the home.
Susan Crosthwaite, chair of Communities Against Turbines Scotland, said that the economic benefits of renewables, particularly jobs, had been “stretched well beyond reality.”
She pointed to a Scottish Renewables report which said the sector recently supported 11,136 jobs in Scotland, but the actual number of full-time positions created by the industry was only 1526.
The hotelier is concerned about the impact of wind farms on tourism and is due to speak at the Scottish Parliament’s inquiry on renewables tomorrow, which is also to be attended by US tycoon Donald Trump. She said: “This is a multiplier of 7.4 jobs in total for every one job directly within the industry. This would be one of the highest employment multipliers ever recorded in the history of the Scottish economy.
“Official Scottish Government figures for the construction industry, where most of the direct employment would sit, has a multiplier around 1.8 jobs in total for every direct job.”
Helen McDade, John Muir Trust’s head of policy called for an independent National Energy Commission, to “translate” for people what the figures for jobs and investment mean.
She added: “Everybody welcomes the creation of new jobs, but are these subsidised jobs replacing unsubsidised jobs. If it is, that can’t be healthy, but we don’t know. We are not economists. You also have these energy companies receiving huge public subsidies to operate wind farms, then becoming local benefactors handing our considerable amounts of money to local causes and deciding who gets it and who doesn’t. That can’t be healthy, and where will it end?”
George Sorial, executive vice-president and the Trump Organisation’s legal counsel, also claimed the renewable jobs amounted to “subsidised employment”.
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