£1.3bn worth of wind power postponed as Scottish engineers warn of UK Govt neglect

Nathanael Williams

Civil engineering of Scotland unite with renewables sector to demand more support for island projects

THE SCOTTISH body which lobbies on behalf of civil engineers in Scotland has lamented the lack of investment and priority being given to wind power on Scottish islands.

According to the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) in Scotland, £1.3bn worth of potential investment has been postponed to the detriment of the Scottish economy.

The claims follow a year-long consultation between the engineering and renewable industries and the UK Government which is delaying any decision to remove barriers to onshore windfarms on Scottish islands.

“In our view, the development of non-mainland onshore wind, will play a key role in growing the economy in these uncertain times.” Alan Watts

Speaking to CommonSpace the chief executive of CECA in Scotland Alan Watts said: “We estimate that there is initially over £300m worth of civil engineering activity per annum in the Scottish renewables sector alone.

“This represents over 10 per cent of the total Scottish civil engineering workload, in a sector directly employing over 3,000 people, particularly in remote and economically sensitive areas and many more in the supply chain.

“In our view, the development of non-mainland onshore wind, will not only play a key role in growing the economy in these uncertain times but will also help build and maintain thriving communities as a direct result of a local, natural and non-polluting resource.”

At present, mainland onshore windfarms have struggled to attract high and consistent levels of investment from private business, equity or government. A situation that bodies such as CECA have described as “frustrating and worrisome”.

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In April last year the UK Government passed legislation to cut subsidies to onshore projects, drawing criticism from the Scottish Government and SNP MPs in Westminster.

CECA has argued with the department for business, energy & industrial strategy (BEIS), that treating remote Scottish islands differently would allow up to £1.3bn to be invested in wind technology, seeing the Scottish economy directly benefit by up to 725m over 25 years.

CECA claims island communities could benefit in similar ways to the Isle of Muck, which saw the construction of new wind and solar power plants in 2013 and now has 24-hour electricity, after years of rationed electricity and the use of a diesel generator.

UK head of external affairs for CECA Marie-Claude Hemming said: “The remote islands are a fantastic wind resource and are ideally placed to generate a reliable source of renewable electricity. We understand that support for development of wind farms is high within local communities given the economic benefits that they will bring.”

Picture courtesy of BASF

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