Sturgeon handed boost in bid to rejoin EU with plan to DOUBLE Scotland's wind power

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The overwhelming majority of Scottish voters support the construction of more renewable energy facilities in Scotland — with 74 percent of survey respondents saying that they would “think favourably” of a political party that put a strategy in place to achieve this. In fact, only six percent of the Scottish public are opposed to further investment in renewable power, the poll last month of more than 1,000 individuals aged 16+ revealed. Following last year’s Holyrood election, 70 percent of voters said that they put their support behind parties that they expected to improve Scotland’s renewable capacity.

RenewableUK — the energy trade association that conducted the research — said that support for new renewable developments was seen in the majority of voters across all of Scotland’s political parties.

However, they added, enthusiasm was particularly prominent among supporters of the Scottish National Party (SNP), with 88 percent wanting to see more renewable projects built.

Of the SNP voters, nearly three-quarters said that they had put their support behind a party that favoured investments in onshore wind farms — while only one percent said the opposite.

Furthermore, the polling found that 51 percent of all Scots and 58 percent of SNP voters said they would be “disappointed” if the Scottish Government’s upcoming refresh of the Onshore Wind Policy Statement failed to build new wind farms to help tackle climate change.

A consultation on the draft statement concluded late last month, with the updated policy expected to be published later this year.

While the lion’s share of Scottish voters may support the development of renewable energy facilities — and wind farms in particular — RenewableUK noted that some 4.8 gigawatts’ worth of new onshore wind farms are presently being held at the planning stage.

In a press release, they said: “The Scottish Government and local authorities have yet to decide whether to grant consent to these new projects.

“Nearly half of this capacity (2GW) has been awaiting a decision for over three years.”

At present, Scotland’s operational wind farms are capable of producing 8.65GW.

RenewableUK is calling upon Scottish ministers to set the target of installing 12GW of new onshore wind by 2030 — bringing the country’s total capacity up to more than 20GW — as a “key step” in the UK’s commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions.

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RenewableUK chief executive, Dan McGrail, said: “Voters in Scotland overwhelmingly support political parties which are pro-renewables and pro-onshore wind.

“The Scottish Government has a clear mandate to consent projects in a timely way to tackle climate change.

“We’re urging ministers in Holyrood to unblock the pipeline of much-needed new onshore wind capacity as a matter of urgency, by bringing in new guidelines which underpin the need to act fast against the climate emergency.”

“This will build on the legacy of the COP26 agreement in Glasgow, when the eyes of the world focussed on Scotland as a leader in decarbonisation.

“Building new onshore wind projects is also one of the cheapest ways to generate new power, so in the long term these projects will also help to reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels, including volatile international gas prices.”

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And a Scottish Government spokesperson said they “welcomed” the results which “align with our own research showing public backing for wind energy is at a record high across Scotland”.

“Amid a global climate emergency that requires decarbonisation of our economy, the Scottish Government strongly supports the development of renewables while providing appropriate protections for our local communities, landscapes and natural heritage.

“Onshore wind is one of the most cost-effective forms of large-scale electricity generation and met the equivalent of nearly 60 percent of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption in 2020.

“We have recently been consulting on our ambitions for the onshore wind sector, which includes seeing an additional 8-12 GW of onshore wind installed by 2030 — potentially more than doubling Scotland’s current onshore wind capacity.”

Any such wind farm construction will avoid national parks and scenic areas, they added.

Back in March 2021, Edinburgh Napier University economists Dr Piotr Marek Jaworski and Dr Kenny Crossan proposed that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon might be able to use Scotland’s growing wind power resources to smooth a rejoining of the EU following a vote for Scottish Independence.

In a comment piece on the Conversation, the duo wrote: “Green energy would be of particular mutual interest to Scotland and the EU — especially wind power, for which Scotland has the most favourable conditions in Europe.”

They added: “Scotland’s accession would be valuable to help the European Union meet its goal of climate neutrality by 2050.”

The news of widespread support for renewable energy sources among the Scottish voting population also comes just a month after Ms Sturgeon announced the investment of nearly £700million into offshore wind farms along Scotland’s coastlines.

This financing will support 17 different projects, the leader of the SNP explained, as part of contracts with companies including BP, Scottish Power, Shell, and SSE.



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