Alex Salmond’s “dangerous” obsession with wind farms will cost every Scottish family £960 a year if he succeeds in his bid to break up Britain, it was claimed last night.
Green power generators in Scotland raked in more than £600million in public subsidies last year, with 91.5 per cent coming from electricity bills in the rest of the UK.
However, the drive to become the “Saudi Arabia of renewables” is expected to push that figure to about £3billion a year by 2020.
The SNP insists that, if Scotland were to become independent, the current system would stay in place and the country’s surplus green energy would continue to be exported south of the Border.
But, for the plan to work, English, Welsh and Northern Irish voters would have to accept paying billions of pounds a year to subsidise wind farms operating in a foreign country.
Last week, the UK Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, warned that Westminster would “strike a new deal” on energy imports in the event of a Yes vote in the referendum, leading to higher bills north of the Border.
Today, the Sunday Express can reveal that this new deal would see the cost of living soar by up to £958 a year for every household in Scotland.
Even maintaining the current level of subsidy – which would require an immediate moratorium on all new wind farms – would cost an extra £162 a year from day one of independence.
The only alternative would be to abandon many of the country’s wind farms.
As of last August, there were 195 already in operation, a further 293 in the planning pipeline and hundreds more almost certain to follow in the years ahead.
And just last week, new plans were unveiled for the world’s third largest wind farm in the Moray Firth.
Dr John Constable, director of the London-based Renewable Energy Foundation and an independence supporter, said: “If the Scottish people decide they want an independent future – and in their shoes I would vote Yes – then Scotland will need a new energy policy, because the present gamble on continued cross subsidy from English and Welsh consumers is just too dangerous.
“I cannot see any Westminster Chancellor inflicting that on UK voters in order to pay it to another country. Why would they subsidise jobs and investment in a foreign nation?
“SNP policy is based on the assumption that English and Welsh consumers will want Scottish green energy so badly they will pay a higher price for it, rather than paying less for energy which could be generated on their own land.
“I do not think anybody outside Scotland believes this to be true. It is a peculiar delusion of the Scottish Government.”
In response to Mr Davey’s speech in Edinburgh on Tuesday, the Holyrood Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, said Scottish wind power is needed to “keep the lights on” in southern England.
He added: “On a security of supply basis, England will require to receive imports of Scotland’s electricity for most of the time.”
But Dr Constable disputed this claim, as official figures show that around 70 per cent of the UK’s green energy is already generated in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Any shortfall could be replaced by more offshore wind farms in shallow coastal waters and converting coal-fired power stations to biomass, which burn cheap imported timber.
Drax in Yorkshire, Britain’s largest power plant, is already converting and will be able to “crank out” the equivalent of 6GW of wind power at the push of a button. The Moray Firth proposals would generate around 1.3GW.
“Scottish energy policy was designed when independence looked very unlikely, so I really don’t understand [Alex Salmond’s] aim in keeping it in place – unless he expects to lose the referendum,” said Dr Constable.
“His aim must be to maintain the wealth transfer from the English and Welsh economy into Scotland, because I just cannot see how the policy would function if Scotland were to become independent.
“Even to absorb the current level of wind power subsidy would add £250 a year to the cost of living in Scotland.”
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