Future of Scotland’s renewable energy industry ‘at risk’

21,000 people now work in the green energy sector in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

21,000 people now work in the green energy sector in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

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The future growth of Scotland’s flagship renewables industry could be choked off by swingeing subsidy cuts from Westminster, a committee of MPs has warned.

An estimated 21,000 people now work in the green energy sector north of the Border, which produces almost 30 per cent of the UK’s renewable electricity.

Environmentalists hit out when the UK government announced an end to lucrative subsidies for onshore windfarms last year.

The Scottish Affairs ­Committee has today ­published a report into the renewable energy sector in Scotland which warns that its successes could now be undermined by changes to UK ­government policy.

“We have urged the government to clarify the future ­support which will be available to the renewable sector, and set out how they will work with the Scottish Government to develop a clear, long-term plan that will allow renewable energy to remain a central part of the energy mix,” committee chairman Pete Wishart said.

But the report points to “serious concerns” among many Scottish residents about the impact of onshore wind ­turbines on the environment.

Graham Lang, chairman of anti-turbine alliance ­Scotland Against Spin, said: “It vindicates the thousands of Scots who are opposed to the unlimited expansion of onshore wind farms.’

There has been “significant growth” in renewables in ­Scotland with electricity production from sources as diverse as wind, hydro and biomass attracting significant investment, the report finds.

Mr Wishart said policy changes by the UK government have “weakened investor confidence in the renewable sector, and put at risk opportunities for future growth.”

A spokesman for the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said UK government support has helped the success of Scotland’s renewables.

He added; “We’ve been completely clear that our commitment to the industry will continue with the announced £730 million funding package for future renewable energy projects.”

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