The Scottish Government has been accused of relying on “spin” from Scottish Renewables in defending its controversial wind energy policy
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has been urged to apologise to MSPs amid claims he knowingly allowed them to be “misled” about the impact of renewable energy on consumers’ bills.
Highland anti-wind farm campaigner Stuart Young has complained that Mr Ewing failed to correct his SNP colleague Mike Mackenzie who on February 21 told the Chamber at Holyrood that subsidising renewables only added £21 to annual electricity bills. According to Mr Young who has been in extensive correspondence with Mr Ewing, the Minister was well aware that the figure was actually £64.15 (see attachments).
The remark by Mr Mackenzie during the debate on the Energy, Economy and Tourism Committee’s Report into the 2020 Renewables Targets caused an outburst among spectators in the public gallery, one of whom was Mr Young.
Mr Mackenzie said the figure he used was provided by Scottish Renewables (in P&J article also attached).
Graham Lang of Scotland Against Spin, a new national anti-wind farm alliance, commented:
“Once again the Scottish Government has been called to book by a canny member of the public. Stuart Young is right to demand an apology and a correction for the blatant misinformation purveyed by MSP Mike Mackenzie about the true cost of renewable energy to consumers. Mr MacKenzie’s defence – it wisnae me, it was Scottish Renewables – is pathetic.
Scottish Renewables is a lavishly-funded trade and PR organisation. Its sole purpose is to win support for its paymaster, the renewables industry, whose profits depend on huge levels of public subsidy. Unsurprisingly Scottish Renewables produces reams of “research” showing wind energy is a good thing which the Scottish Government in turn laps up and repackages with added authority in its renewables policy.
In the same debate in which Mike Mackenzie was caught out, Fergus Ewing opened his speech with a bogus point about carbon-saving copied from the latest press release from Scottish Renewables.”
Mr Ewing said that “Meeting our renewables targets will really help to reduce carbon emissions. Figures released this week show a 35 per cent drop in emissions from our fossil fuel power stations between 2006 and 2011. That has coincided with huge growth in our renewable energy output.” http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=7756&mode=html#iob_70782
This was lifted from a Scottish Renewables press release which implied that the drop in fossil fuel emissions was due to growth in renewable energy. In fact, fossil fuel emissions are down because of the recession, the decline of industry (and heavy industry in particular) in Scotland, decommissioning at Peterhead, and changes in what fossil fuel power stations burn (One station is burning dried sewage and even though it emits huge amounts of CO2 it doesn’t get counted as it is “good” CO2; Longannet is now using less coal and more gas which has reduced emissions).
In the autumn another private individual Mrs Lyndsey Ward from Beauly challenged the First Minister about his figures for renewables jobs, which caused the figure in the Official Record to be quietly corrected from 18,000 to 11,000. “Tippex-gate” also revealed that the 11,000 figure came from Scottish Renewables and had not been checked by the Scottish Government.
Mr Lang added: “This cosy set-up between government and industry is a win-win situation. The spin doctors at Scottish Renewables are in for a big bonus. The industry can be confident that the Energy Minister will continue to rubberstamp its subsidy-milking schemes. The government can spare itself the bother of independent research or verifying Scottish Renewables’ “facts”. And Alex Salmond’s fantasy of a Saudi Arabia of Renewables remains unchallenged within the SNP.
“As the evidence mounts that Scottish wind energy policy is economically and environmentally unsustainable, two things are certain. One, the day will come when even the most fervent Salmond-supporter can no longer hide behind wind industry spin. Second, when that day comes, the SNP will doubtless blame the UK Government.”
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