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By a Newsnet reporter

A public attack on Scotland's offshore wind energy sector by Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson has been condemned as "disgraceful", and has sparked calls for the Prime Minister to clarify his party's position. 

Mr Stevenson is a member of the European Parliament's Environment Committee and President of the Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Intergroup of more than 200 MEPs.

Speaking at a meeting organised by Communities Against Turbines Scotland (CATS) in Girvan on Thursday, the Tory MEP urged participants to resist the industrialisation of Scotland's seascape, describing the environmental and financial consequences incurred by the development of offshore wind projects as "walking the plank to disaster", and claimed it placed local industry at risk whilst making a negligible impact on emissions targets.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Stevenson said: "An estimated 55% of carbon in the atmosphere that becomes bound or 'sequestered' in natural systems is cycled into the seas and oceans and stored in seagrass meadows and kelp forests, so-called 'blue carbon' vegetation, in waters up to 20 metres deep, most of which in Europe are to be found around Scotland's coasts. 

"Destroying these precious ecosystems to build massive offshore turbines or wave and tidal systems will simply release millions of tonnes of stored CO2 into the atmosphere."

In fact, most studies show that the great majority of the carbon which is naturally cycled into the oceans is eventually transferred to the deep ocean where it becomes trapped in chemical structures which form from the combination of water and CO2 under the immense pressures of the ocean depths.  According to the US Dept of Energy, this is the eventual fate of 80-90% of carbon captured naturally by the oceans.  

Studies have also found that the environmental impact of off-shore wind farms upon marine ecology is very limited.  In fact the construction of wind tower bases in shallow seas provides a new habitat for marine plants and animals.  A study conducted in Denmark found that the diversity and abundance of marine plants and animals actually increased after the construction of an off shore wind farm.  

Similar findings were reported by a Dutch study, which reported that offshore wind farms have a beneficial long-term effect on wildlife.  The report detailed how wind farms function as a new type of habitat, attracting new species to the turbine foundations and surrounding rocks. 

As the wind farm area is avoided by industrial fishing fleets, the area acts as a refuge for schools of cod and other fish.  Perhaps surprisingly, given the concerns about the noise which the wind farms may create, the Dutch study also found that marine mammals like seals, porpoises and dolphins increased in number in the area of the wind farm.

Scotland is home to 25% of Europe's offshore wind and tidal power potential and 10% of Europe's wave power potential, giving the offshore renewables sector huge potential for growth.   Around 35% of Scotland's electricity came from renewables in 2011, exceeding the Scottish Government’s target of 31%. 

In the same year, Scotland contributed almost 40% of the UK's renewables.  Currently the industry provides over 11,000 full time jobs in Scotland, a number which is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years as renewable energy technologies develop. 

However Scottish jobs may be threatened if the UK Government backtracks on the Conservatives' pre-election promise to be "the greenest government ever".  In 2011 the UK Government announced it was slashing the subsidies received by renewable energy suppliers and developers.   

Mr Stevenson's potentially damaging remarks reflect the strength of the anti-renewables lobby, which has a strong influence amongst sections of the Conservative party.  Many Tory MPs are urging UK Goverment ministers to reduce support for wind power projects, saying costs are too great.

SNP MSP John Wilson has written to Prime Minister David Cameron calling on him to clarify his party's position on renewables following Struan Stevenson's outburst.  Mr Wilson is the Deputy Convener of Holyrood's Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee.

"This is a disgraceful attack on jobs and investment by the Tories.  Scotland has massive renewables potential with about a quarter of Europe's offshore wind and tidal power and a tenth of its wave power.

"That natural windfall is delivering much needed jobs and investment to communities the length and breadth of Scotland and the UK. Not content with the appalling damage they are doing to the economy, the Tories apparently now want to scrap renewables jobs too.

"This is the fastest growing industry providing a much needed economic boost and jobs to communities. The UK Government’s own figures show that a green energy will help reduce energy bills as opposed to a business as usual approach by the Tories.

"With our natural competitive advantage we should all be getting behind the renewables industry rather than launching ill thought attacks on this clean, green and reliable source of energy.

"Our huge natural resource as well as Scotland's historic legacy in the energy industry, Scotland is well placed to thrive in delivering safe and secure clean, green energy across these islands.

"It is bad enough that Tory cuts are hitting our communities and holding back recovery without an attack on this economic success story."


# clootie 2012-08-10 06:08
The Tories have always been well known for their environmental policies.

I was going to have a rant but I am aware that those who visit this site are fully aware of the agenda in attacking the environmental policy of the SG.

This gets us back onto the need for a "mix" of energy supplies and that nice safe carbon free nuclear power station programme.
# mealer 2012-08-10 07:18
The tories are anti-renewable and pro nuclear.As are Labour and the Libdems.
# Angus 2012-08-10 07:27
Westminster burying its head in the sand.
Anything positive for Scotland they are going to try and scupper
# xyz 2012-08-10 08:02
"The UK Government’s own figures show that a green energy will help reduce energy bills"

Where can I find these figures?

Unfortunately the anti wind-farm lobby is being allowed to wallow in ignorance.

It suites the LabourCons as an attack on wind farm viability is an attack on the Scottish government, an attack on the SNP and an attack on independence .. oh and sideways support for new nuclear.
# alang 2012-08-10 08:20
What I find incredible in all these modern day "Private Sector" investments and wind farms or any other form of power generation, is why should the consumer subsidise them at all? Why should any of these multi-nationals get a penny from the tax payer to subsidise their profits? This is Nationalisation but the companies gaining at the tax payers expenses are privately owned!

New industries in R&D or start up manufacturing creating new jobs need Government support, which I am in favour of, but why subsidise multi-nationals?

I am trying to build 215 social houses for rent as a private limited company in the central belt of Scotland and no one wants to know about funding us for £2m!

I spoke to the bank about a small wind farm to power the development and they were all ears because as the manager said "cash is blowing in on the wind". No problem for £2 or £3m for that!
# robbo 2012-08-10 09:05
Quoting alang:
New industries in R&D or start up manufacturing creating new jobs need Government support, which I am in favour of, but why subsidise multi-nationals?

I agree with the rest of the post but not this. No private company needs government support. Companies need to manage the risk/reward of R&D themselves, and not have it distorted by the government. Otherwise their is a moral hazard. This might be why you can get money for wind farms but not housing.

All these energy subsidies are really distorting the market and producing sub-optimal solutions and misallocation of resources.
# xyz 2012-08-10 09:12
I sympathise with your concerns about large businesses milking the public purse but unfortunately this is the nature of big business.

The Tories rail against 'subsidy', but like every other government is more than willing to invest in this or that business on a case by case basis. They also occasionally cry out: 'the government is not good at choosing which business to invest in' and yet that is exactly what they do. Hypocrisy from the Tories.
# John Lyons 2012-08-10 09:27
Interesting. What I read was "the Tory MEP urged participants to resist the industrialisati on of Scotland's seascape"

Is that the same as saying "Please don't build any industry in Scotland, it took our beloved Mrs Thatcher years to destroy it and she did it so we can keep you lot out of work and use you for cheap Labour?"

He's not opposed to renwables he's opposed to Job creation in Scotland? Am I way off the mark here or can I see the Tories for what they truely are?
# cjmasta 2012-08-10 09:56
I honestly think there`s been an effort to damage Scotlands economic prospects. I mean they can`t have a Scotland bouncing out of recession in the next two years and leaving the rest of the UK trailing. Not with the referendum in a couple of years time looming.

We saw this with Longannet, we also saw there efforts in trying to convince businesses that Scotlands was a bad place to do business with the "uncertainty" of our referendum. Not one business could he name which he claimed said they wouldn`t invest but infact you only had to turn on the Scottish news at the time to see the amount of announcements on global companies investing large sums of money here.

They have to be shown for the unashamed, nasty "Thatchers Children" that they all are.
# clootie 2012-08-10 09:49

Sorry for going way off topic.

I am of the opinion that the March in Edinburgh on the 22nd March could be a significant turning point. It is fantastic that Newsnet has a link on this site.
Given that importance I have a few concerns
a) The event has received no financial support from the SNP or the YES campaign. I find the latter of the most concern since my understanding was that this is the type of event that the funding directed to the YES team was intended for. I for one will be directing a donation to the march directly rather than to the YES campaign.
b) Alec Salmond is speaking at the rally. However as a SNP activist I am concerned at the lack of support from the party. I have received one e-mail with the basic details of the March. I would have expected at least an enthusiastic endorsement. The YES campaign have no nominated speaker and no plans to “sell” the message at a march focused on Independence.

We are going to have to do a lot better than this – We all have the same objective.

We should support those who are travelling the same road – the YES campaign need to step up and be more pro-active. We will need more than a few poster packs to counter the unionist machine.

The YES campaign should also be supporting NewsnetScotland in my opinion.

We should be spending these funds on a "bang for buck" basis and NewsnetScotland and the march organisers are way in front in justifying financial support at present.

My apologies for going off topic but 2014 is too important to have split campaigns - we need better team work.
# xyz 2012-08-11 09:11
typo alert ---- "the March in Edinburgh on the 22nd March" I think you mean the march on the 22nd SEPTEMBER .. next month ...

I've never noticed the confusion between marching and the month of march till this march.

I sympathise with your wishes for better teamwork between the different groups working for independence and sincerely hope this march is a success .. not that it will be reported honestly if at all in the MSM.
# chicmac 2012-08-12 14:25
In Independence First, we did have one of our marches in March.
# RamblingAlly 2012-08-10 12:23
Renewables as we all know is an emerging market and potentially worth billions to the Scottish economy. Wasteminster and the other anti-independence parties do not want Scotland to stand on her own two feet. They want to discredit wind power us uneconomical, inefficient and so forth.

As wind and wave power technology gets better; the electiricty gained from these technologies will incraese, and when this happens it becomes cheaper to produce.

Wasteminster also knows that rUK would in all probability be forced to import electricity from an independent Scotland(as they do at the moment, (but with no financial gain to Scotland), as well as other EU countries such as Ireland, and that does not sit well with David and his motley crew of independence destroyers.

Wasteminster are terified of a YES vote as it will cost rUK billions and save and earn an Independent Scotland a similar amount of billions.
# Silverytay 2012-08-10 19:32
Dont expect cameron to clarify anything .
As others have said this is more about ensuring that Scotland can not outperform the rest of the u.k economically .
The unionists will use every dirty trick in the book and even some that are not in the book to ensure that Scots think that they are too poor and too stupid to vote for independence .
The last thing that unionists need is for Scotland to outperform the r.u.k in any matter between now and 2014 .
# chicmac 2012-08-11 00:07
Some facts.

The UK government has approved approximately 30GW capacity of off-shore wind turbine power generation capacity.

The vast majority of this is in English waters because the vast majority of 'viable' off shore wind turbine power generation capacity lies between SE England and Denmark.

Even the most keen wind power countries, Germany, Denmark, Spain, have only just started, tentatively, on off shore wind turbine power generation and only now because they have used up all their viable on-shore resource.

England has more offshore wind turbine power generation already than the rest of the World put together even though its onshore resource has been barely touched.

30GW offshore wind turbine power generation capacity, when finished, will add at least £300 to the average annual electricity bill, compared to if that capacity were installed onshore.

But English nimbyism means that it is the only country in Western Europe which is not doing its bit on onshore wind power.

Offshore wind turbine power generation should not seriously be embarked on until UK available, viable onshore resource has been used up.

The 30GW offshore wind turbine power generation project has also injected higher costs and delays for onshore wind turbines.

The SNP did not instigate the vast majority of the wind power program. Proposed site plans were drawn up years before they got in, a legacy which has been largely adhered to. These things take years to work through.
# Caadfael 2012-08-11 09:25
An interesting interview with Oor Eck ..
# chicmac 2012-08-11 11:14
Beware the difference between total off-shore energy referred to in the interview, which includes wave and tidal as well as off shore wind turbine generation. In Scotland turbine offshore potential is a small percentage of the total.

Offshore wind turbine costs are related to water depth, much of Scottish water is too deep for financially viable installation of wind turbines.

England, with extensive shallow continental shelf off its East coast, has, effectively, nearly all the UK's offshore wind turbine potential resource.

See the following map:

As well as distribution of offshore wind turbine potential sites, note also how much more costly it is (except for the mountainous areas of Europe) to produce electricity offshore by wind turbine compared to onshore.

It is Scotland's wave and tidal maritime resources which are relatively substantial in Western Europe terms.

Numerically Scotland's biggest potential offshore capacity is wave, however its most sensible to develop is tidal since that represents a potential baseload resource with all the innate financial benefits that entails.
# chicmac 2012-08-12 14:47
At least it has at last been pointed out that even with no North Sea oil or gas revenues, Scotland would still be in a comparable position to the UK in terms of GDP.

It has long been in the Us interest emphasise oil since then they can make false banana republic claims.

Without any oil revenue whatsoever, using the governments own figures, Scotland would be no worse off than the rUK.

Of course, there would actually be oil revenue for an independent Scotland for many years to come putting an independent Scotland well in surplus.

Meanwhile, tidal and other renewables will ensure a continuance of energy trade surplus in the future.

Also England's food and drink deficit is not as exposed as it will be when Scotland becomes independent.

And London's rotten financial edifice is about to implode.
# chicmac 2012-08-12 06:41
bump edits

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