Scots to seek UK energy 'partnership'

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond launched his government’s independence blueprint with a call for a post-referendum “partnership” over the operation of the UK energy market.

The energy and environment element of the 649-page White Paper – entitled Scotland’s Future and launched today in Glasgow – said a newly-independent Scotland would aim to be the key supplier of renewable power to the rest of the UK.

“Following independence, Scottish renewable energy will continue to represent the most cost-effective means for the rest of the UK to meet its renewable ambitions,” said the White Paper.

“The continuation of a system of shared support for renewables and capital costs of transmission among consumers in Scotland and the rest of the UK is a reasonable consideration for meeting the UK's ongoing green commitments.”

But in its status as a major supplier to the UK market, an independent Scotland would require “a far greater degree of oversight of the market arrangements for energy and firmer safeguards over Scottish energy security.”

An independent Edinburgh government would seek a partnership with London to jointly steer energy policy, it added.

The document says a well-functioning energy market, delivering the best outcome for consumers in the long-term, is a prerequisite for a flourishing economy and society. It claims by this standard, Westminster has failed.

“We have huge hydrocarbon resources for the next half a century but we need to build renewable wealth which will last forever,” says Salmond.

The White Paper says under investment in energy generation over the decades has lead to a looming security of supply crisis. “Spare generation capacity throughout the UK is not at its lowest level for a generation and Ofgem forecasts that it will contract even further.

“Westminster’s proposals to reform the electricity market are intended to address these concerns, but they present major risks. Scotland’s ability to provide for our long-term energy requirements may be compromised – and our status as a provider of reliable supplied to the rest of the UK is now endangered,” says the document.

The White Paper says that in an independent Scotland, the Scottish government plans to review the management of the Crown Estate and consult on arrangements to enhance local control of assets, including greater autonomy for the Scottish islands and ownership of the foreshore and local harbours.

“We plan to introduce community benefits associated with Scotland’s offshore renewable resource. This will deliver direct benefits for communities across Scotland of at least half of the seabed leasing revenues and more in the islands,” it adds.

The Scots will vote on independence on 18 September next year.