Alex Salmond’s boasts of a bonanza of 40,000 green jobs have been blown away by public spending watchdogs who say the final total could be less than a third of that.
The Scottish Government predicted a huge increase in employment with its target of generating all the country’s electricity from green sources by 2020.
But Audit Scotland has warned the green power drive has been stalled. In a report published today it says the target and its “optimistic” employment projections are “challenging”.
It also warns the sector will require hundreds of millions more pounds from the public purse if Mr Salmond is to realise his dream.
Critics seized on the report, claiming Mr Salmond was way off target and more controversial wind farms would have to be built to achieve the ambition.
Last year the First Minister was hauled before MSPs after claiming 18,000 green jobs had been created in Scotland, when it turned out the figure was just 11,000. And in its 2011 Scottish election manifesto, Mr Salmond said the SNP would create a staggering 130,000 jobs in the “low-carbon” economy by 2020.
Scottish Tory energy spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “This shows that the renewables target is far too ambitious and the timescale is slipping. Huge swathes of these are going to have to be pushed through if this ludicrous goal is to be reached.”
Renewable power “needs to double” to meet the targets, the report states.
Uncertainty over UK energy policy, costs and reliability of renewable technology and access to the grid are deterring large-scale investors.
“Achieving the targets by 2020 will require a significant increase in activity and investment,” it states.
“They used the most optimistic scenario of 40,000 jobs but the least optimistic scenarios suggest a third of this, 13,000,” it adds.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said he recognised schemes were progressing “more slowly than anticipated”.
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