Scotland’s wind wealth is being spirited away in the ‘Great Berwick Bank Robbery’ – Kenny MacAskill MP
It was Boris Johnson who said he wanted the UK to become the “Saudi Arabia of wind”.
Whoever succeeds as PM, whether Truss or Sunak, may use different language but the opportunity and indeed necessity of it remains and the drive will continue to harness the natural power off Scotland’s shores.
Scotland should stand to benefit from that being blessed with 25 per cent of Europe's offshore wind potential and 60 per cent of the UK’s onshore wind resource.
One offshore windfarm alone, Berwick Bank, has the potential to power almost three million homes. That’s more households than in all of Scotland, where there’s some 2.5 million at most.
The name’s a bit of a misnomer and comes from a nautical site, lying at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, between Fife and East Lothian, not further south near the town that bears the same name.
Leaving aside such arguments, it should be of great benefit to East Lothian, as little as 40 kilometres away at some points, and Scotland as a whole. With households wondering how they’ll heat their homes in Tranent and elsewhere, salvation is coming you might think. But no.
Instead we’re now facing the Great Berwick Bank Robbery. Jobs and revenue to spring from it were already limited but now even the natural resource in the energy to be produced is being taken. Forty per cent of the gigawatt capacity is to be sent directly south. There’ll not even be revenues for Crown Estate Scotland, as it’ll land on the foreshore near Blyth, not in Scotland.
Renewables are the way we have to head. What’s more, Scotland’s blessed with them in so many ways with onshore and offshore wind and tidal to add to other forms of green energy.
Our geography, so often an impediment in our history for trade, and our climate, still all too often a bugbear for us all, has suddenly become a glorious opportunity. With this development alone providing for all our domestic needs, it’s right to export it.
But where’s the payment for it? Where’s the benefit for our communities in work or businesses that could feed off it? This is a heist of a Scottish natural resource.
We already know that the turbines will likely be built abroad. Yet whilst East Lothian has little history of that type of engineering work, Fife most certainly has, as does Scotland as a whole.
You’d have thought this development, along with all the others that are coming, would see almost every firth or estuary in Scotland hammering away building the blades that will turn off our shores.
Instead, most are planned to be manufactured abroad with none in the Forth area other than perhaps some assembly work of turbines manufactured abroad done at Leith. Brought here simply for assembly. Welcome work but not the real skilled work that provides high-paying jobs.
This simply isn’t good enough. Scotland’s oil and gas resource was hidden from us, as described by the McCrone Report, and has been played down ever since. The wealth of Norway has been denied our people.
Now we’ve got another natural bounty and we cannot allow that to pass us by. It’s time to demand that we benefit from our wind resource.
Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian
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