With a new licensing policy from the Scottish Crown Estate and co-operation
– if not collaboration – with the Scot-Govt – there is a ‘glimmer of hope’
for a much-missed Scottish renewables manufacturing industry.
That is the comment by a former Scottish Labour MP and UK Energy Minister
on the new offshore leasing consultation recently floated by the Scottish
Brian Wilson said: “As guardian of the seabed out to a distance of 200
nautical miles, the Crown Estate has a big part to play in the future of
“Its discussion paper on new offshore wind leasing for Scotland which
envisages projects being built in the late 2020s and beyond.
“For once, the UK and Scottish Governments seem to be on the same page.
“UK Energy Minister Claire Perry saw “the opening up of more seabed areas
for new offshore wind projects as another step towards achieving our low
cost, low carbon future” in line with the government’s modern Industrial
“Wind technology and associated developments like battery storage are
moving so fast that projects which still seem implausible today may well
come to fruition in 20 years time.
“That will not be for the Crown Estate to decide but at least they
are behaving as pro-active facilitators rather than absentee sea-lords,
which tended to be their role in the past.
“The hopeful signal for the Scottish economy, inherent in the Crown
Estate’s optimistic approach, is that there might still be potential for a
renewables manufacturing industry worthy of the name.
“So far, Scotland’s failure to build an industry round renewables
generation has been lamentable. But let’s hope it is not too late.
“Beyond historic projects that are now coming to fruition, like Beatrice
and the EOWDC, there are two major offshore windfarms in a position to go
ahead on the grounds that they have both planning consent and access to
subsidy through Contract for Difference. They are Neart na Gaoithe off the
Fife coast and EDP Renewables’ Moray East project in the Moray Firth.
“Public and political opinion is waking up to the fact that Scotland has
been conned over onshore renewables.
“Instead of a “second industrial revolution”, we have done little more than
provide subsidy and land for imported turbines to be built upon.
“Even now, the capacity to gain benefit from massive offshore developments
is limited by lack of investment and forward-planning.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister, on the picket line with Bi-Fab
workers in Fife over Beatrice wind farm wages dispute in 2017.
“The argument used by the industry’s big players has been that the Scottish
market does not offer sufficient certainty to justify investment here – so
they just carried on importing, and got away with it.
“Is that going to change any time soon – or are minor contracts – like the
small portion of Beatrice work that got BiFab into difficulties – the best
we can hope for? Surely we need to aim higher.
“I hope the Scottish Government will have learned lessons from the Neart
na Gaoithe saga, which went on for all of seven years. In the meantime,
Whitehall approved more than 60 offshore wind projects because, more than a
decade ago, it developed a fit-for-purpose planning system which Scotland
still does not possess.
“Everyone is united around the proposition that Neart na Gaoithe should
bring economic benefit to Scotland. The coalition of supply chain
businesses which supported Mainstream’s campaign commissioned a report from
the Fraser of Allander Institute that said it could contribute 0.6% to
Scotland’s GDP, worth over £800 million and thousands of jobs.
“This can only happen because the developer fought the case all the way –
but now it has to turned into substance.”