Nationalisation call for Scottish energy industry

Picture:  Neil Hanna
Picture: Neil Hanna
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SCOTLAND should create a nationalised energy company if it becomes independent and quit the UK-wide energy market, a new report has claimed.

The Jimmy Reid Foundation says the move would pour billions of pounds into boosting the country’s green energy potential and reduce the reliance of North Sea oil.

The suggestion comes amid concern over soaring energy bills and Labour proposals to freeze these if the party wins power.

But a spokesman for the SNP Government on Sunday night insisted it is not proposing to “nationalise” assets of North Sea firms.

The report, launched at the Green Party Conference in Inverness yesterday (sun), argues that under either independence or devo-max, Scotland should follow the example of countries such as Denmark and Germany by favouring greater state intervention in the energy sector.

The Scottish Energy Agency would be responsible for meeting climate change targets and reducing North Sea oil and gas production to develop “a more integrated and responsible approach to carbon emissions”, the report says.

A nationalised Scottish Electricity Generation Corporation would take over the grid and electricity distribution, running down existing coal, nuclear and gas power stations in favour of investment in renewables.

The authors say a Scottish Renewable Energy Network, composed of local energy companies under community or council control, could generate and supply renewable energy throughout Scotland.

The current UK system based on “market-led and privatised solutions” and “not fit for purpose,” the report says.

“It delivers massive quasi-monopoly profits predominantly for private and foreign multinational corporations that represent largely ‘unearned’ profits.

“At the same time, it is failing to deliver on the key strategic policy goals of delivering the UK’s commitments on reducing CO² levels and tackling climate change, providing long-term security of supply, and affordable energy and tackling fuel poverty.

“Only by breaking out of this policy regime and developing an alternative agenda around new forms of strategic planning and public ownership can Scotland fulfil its true potential and wider obligations as an energy-rich nation.

“A much longer-term approach to Scotland’s energy is required where energy resources are owned, managed and distributed for the collective good, and on behalf of present and future generations rather than being appropriate for private and corporate interests.

“The massive levels of investment required to build Scotland’s post-carbon infrastructure will be much cheaper if paid for up front through public bodies (backed by sovereign governments) that can borrow at much lower lending rates than the private sector.”

The Scottish Greens yesterday agreed Scotland’s energy resources should be publicly owned in the event of a Yes vote.