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Fri 24 February 2012

Only a balanced energy strategy for Scotland will keep the lights on - UNISON

Launch of UNISON Scotland energy strategy document: Scotland’s Energy – Scotland’s Future: a balanced energy strategy for Scotland

Only a balanced energy strategy for Scotland will keep the lights on in the future. That’s the message of major energy union UNISON Scotland in a new document launched today (Friday 24 February 2012). Calling for ‘a new realism and sanity’ in the energy debate, UNISON argues that a sustainable Scottish energy strategy has to be based on a planned market for energy, not just to achieve security of supply – but to ensure jobs, deal with climate change and end fuel poverty.

Scotland’s Energy – Scotland’s Future: a balanced energy strategy for Scotland identifies the many challenges and opportunities for Scotland’s energy sector and sets out a detailed set of proposals for a unique Scottish energy strategy - including a call for devolution of energy powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns for UNISON Scotland, said:
“There needs to be a new realism and sanity in the energy debate in Scotland. Far too many organisations oppose proven energy generation in favour of future technologies that are not contributing the capacity required to meet our energy needs. That will inevitably lead to a crisis in security of supply with devastating economic consequences. Only a balanced energy strategy for Scotland will keep the lights on in the future.

“Privatisation and liberalisation of the energy market are not the panacea that governments believe them to be. They will not deliver a planned energy policy and have not enabled alternative generation to make a significant new contribution to our energy requirements. UNISON Scotland has argued for increased funding to support clean-coal, the full range of renewables and investment in the right skills and specialities. We urge the Parliament to pursue policies that support a balanced and sustainable approach to energy generation and use, and which promote future investment across the energy sector in Scotland.

Danny Gillespie, chair of UNISON’s Scottish Utilities Committee said:
“We need democratic accountability to ensure that long term public interest is put a head of short term commercial gain. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act which UNISON campaigned for long and hard is a good start in tackling climate change – but we need stronger public duties and more support for Green Workplaces.”

“The Scottish Parliament has an important role to play in developing a sustainable Scottish energy strategy. Devolved responsibilities already include the environment, planning, education and training, economic development and, not least, sustainable development – all of which impact on and interface with UK energy policy. And we support the devolution of energy powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Danny Gillespie added:
“And in the face of crazy austerity economics, pay freezes and cuts, and rocketing fuel costs, we need a much better co-ordinated drive against the blight of fuel poverty which affects one in three Scottish household. We need new initiatives to ensure that fuel poverty is eradicated.”

ENDS

For further information please contact:
Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns Scotland - 07958 122409
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer - 0141 342 2877 / 07538 640 396

Notes to editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing over 160,000 members working in the public services and utilities in Scotland, and is the largest union in the Scottish power industry.

2. Scotland’s Energy – Scotland’s Future: a balanced energy strategy for Scotland, UNISON’s Scottish energy strategy document is launched today Friday 24 February

http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/energy/ScotlandsEnergyScotlandsFuture_Feb2012.pdf

From the summary of the document – A Scottish Energy Strategy:

We believe a sustainable Scottish energy strategy should be based on a planned market for energy combined with security of supply, as well as social, employment and environmental objectives. Key principles should be:

  • Prioritising tackling climate change in line with the targets for reducing emissions set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act. This includes stronger public duties and more support for Green Workplaces.

  • A balanced electricity generation policy from a number of sources to minimise volatility and ensure security of supply.

  • For the foreseeable future, to continue gas and coal generation at current levels, subject to the introduction (with government support) of new clean ‘green’ coal technologies. We believe that other alternatives exist to bring Longannet within emission regimes as well as Peterhead developing a CCS project for gas.

  • The Scottish Government targets for generating electricity from renewable sources are very challenging and not even desirable. However, the ambition to develop renewable generation is a sensible objective and governments should support the development of the sector with a more realistic 60% target by 2020. Local authorities could play a larger role particularly through microgeneration.

  • Whilst in England it is arguable that nuclear power can be replaced by renewables - this is not the case (at least in the medium term) in Scotland where traditionally a greater proportion of our base load generating capacity is delivered by nuclear. However, despite the likely need for the replacement of one nuclear power station it seems unlikely that the market will want to build in Scotland given the discriminatory transmission charges and political resistance.

  • Operating extensions for existing nuclear stations should be agreed where safe and practicable.

  • Scotland should aim to continue to produce an energy surplus to export, recognising the importance of the industry in providing high quality jobs and with specific investment in sector based skills.

  • Demand for electricity should be reduced by promoting and incentivising energy efficiency for individuals, the private and public sectors, with new resources for local government and revised targets including new building standards.

  • A better co-ordinated drive against fuel poverty together with new initiatives to ensure that fuel poverty is eradicated.

  • Privatisation and liberalisation of the energy market will not deliver a planned energy policy and has not enabled alternative generation to make a significant new contribution to our energy requirements. The integrated Scottish electricity industry remains the most efficient method of delivering Scotland’s energy needs.

 

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