Friday, 28 August 2009

MSP in move to ‘prise’ open cash for green energy

Holyrood committee is urged to investigate access to treasury funds

Published: 28/08/2009

A Highland MSP yesterday urged a Scottish Parliament committee to investigate how Scotland can access millions of pounds held by the Treasury for renewable energy development.

It is estimated that at least £150million from the fossil fuel levy is being held by the UK Government.

The levy is paid by electricity suppliers from non-renewable energy sources to help promote green energy power.

The Treasury has told the Scottish Government that any money taken out of the fund will be deducted from the Scottish budget because of limits on departmental spending, cancelling out any benefit.

On Wednesday a report suggested that marine renewables could create some 12,500 jobs and contribute £2.5billion to the Scottish economy. One of the recommendations of the report was “the release of the fossil fuel levy surplus funds to help promote renewables in Scotland”.

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson called on Holyrood’s economy, energy and tourism committee to hold a public inquiry into the situation.

“I want to find a way for Scotland to prise open the door of this bank vault and start investing this money in Scotland’s green future,” said Mr Gibson, the committee’s deputy convener.

“As the recent report into marine renewable potential made clear, we could generate over 12,500 jobs from investment in marine technology alone. Access to the fossil fuel levy is a key part of realising that investment.

“There is universal agreement that, but for Treasury rules, this money should be being invested in Scotland’s green energy industry.

“We have been stuck at a logjam for years now despite repeated Scottish Government efforts.”

Just last month the UK Government rejected the latest Scottish overture when Treasury Minister Liam Byrne told Finance Secretary John Swinney he cannot “agree a further increase” in the Scottish budget which would open up access to the fund

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