Sturgeon shamed over ‘very unrealistic’ claim Scotland could turn lights out on England

Sturgeon and Greens deal looks ‘tenuous’ says Foster

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The SNP and the Scottish Greens have agreed to hold an independence referendum within the first half of the five-year parliamentary term. It comes after Ms Sturgeon announced the pair will co-operate at Holyrood on key areas like the environment and economic development. Energy formed a key part of the first independence battle as Scotland boasts one of the most favourable conditions in Europe for harvesting wind.

Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government’s former Secretary for Rural Economy even claimed in 2014 that England “requires Scotland’s electricity to keep the lights on”.

The comment left some concerned over just how much of a hold the SNP has over the rest of the UK’s energy sector, but Jim Watson, Professor of Energy Policy at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, told it was a “very unrealistic” claim.

He said: “The grid across England, Wales and Scotland runs in a very integrated way.

“There are separate companies that run the grid in Scotland so I would be very surprised if it came to that.

“It is run in a very collaborative way, it was a very odd thing to say.

“The UK remains Scotland’s main importer – that’s where the transmission lines go – but we are increasingly connecting ourselves to other countries as well.”

It came after the Scottish government’s 2014 independence proposal stated that a single UK-wide market for each of electricity and gas should continue.

But the Government argued that it saw no basis to justify continued cost-sharing of a single integrated market and stated the arrangement “could not continue in its current form”.

In 2018, Mrs Sturgeon launched a major project boasting the world’s most powerful wind turbines and declared she wanted 50 percent of all of Scotland’s energy to come from renewables by 2030.

That same year, Scottish Power became the first major UK energy firm to completely drop fossil fuels in favour of wind power, after selling off its remaining gas and hydro stations to Drax for £702million.

In 2019 it was reported that Scotland was producing enough wind energy to power the country twice over, while 48 percent of the UK’s electricity came from renewable sources.

But Prof Watson, who is also Director at the UK Energy Research Centre, said the “healthy competition” since has actually been good.

He explained: “One way of looking at it is that it is healthy competition having the Scottish government is making a habit of publishing strategies that are a bit better than the Government

“I think, at its best, that should hopefully be galvanising for Boris Johnson to do more.

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“There are differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK, the resources in Scotland for wind is better and it’s less densely populated.

“At the same time, we’ve really started to ramp that up in England now and there’s a lot more we can do there.

“I’m hoping that, again, is a source of rivalry that will make the Government do more than an opportunity to have a go at each other in a negative way.”

Both the SNP and Scottish Greens have pledged to hold a referendum after the covid pandemic has passed – but no date has been set.

The agreement seals a majority for independence in the Holyrood chamber, however the Government is opposed to granting a referendum.

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