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  By Sean Martin
 
UK Government attempts to freeze Scotland out of a European Commission investigation into the funding of a new nuclear power plant proves it has something to hide, the SNP has said.
 
Westminster had moved to block Scottish Government Ministers from taking part in the EC inquiry into the UK Government’s plans to subsidise an EDF power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon warned his Scottish Government counterpart, Fergus Ewing, that any Holyrood involvement in the investigation would be viewed as a ‘hostile act’.  First Minister Alex Salmond subsequently wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron requesting an explanation for the conduct of Westminster on the subject.

French energy company EDF would only agree to build the £16bn plant at Hinkley Point if a minimum price could be guaranteed for the electricity generated from it.  This kind of ‘strike price’ is generally covered through an increase in bills for consumers.

The UK Government argued that such a deal is needed in order to safeguard Britain’s energy supply and, as such, should not be considered a subsidy.  But the EC’s competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, compiled a 70-page report in January which suggested the strike price could give EDF excess profit and constitute illegal state aid under EU law.

The EC also warned that Hinkley Point will hit consumers the hardest.  It concluded that it ‘could hardly be argued to contribute to affordability’ and would ‘most likely contribute to an increase in retail prices’.  The power station is likely to cost customers around £1bn per year for the entirety of its 35-year contract.

The taxpayer subsidy that the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station could receive dwarfs the amount offered to renewables.  Hinkley Point could receive an estimated £35bn subsidy – over four times the cost of support to all renewable development across the UK over the last ten years.

Deputy convenor of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, Dennis Robertson, condemned the actions of Westminster and contrasted the attitude of the UK Government to that of its Scottish counterparts, pointing out that there is significant support in Scotland for renewable energy investment.

“People will be wondering what it is Westminster has to hide on the issue – the attempts to silence Scotland show there must be concern that the EC will find against them,” said Mr Robertson, before adding: “A majority of people in Scotland support investment in renewable energy over nuclear power.”

Mr Robertson’s comments follow recent results of a YouGov poll which found almost twice as many Scots favoured large scale wind farms over nuclear projects in their local authority area.  In the same survey, 80% of respondents said they would be for a large scale hydro project in their area.

In response to the findings, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, Niall Stuart, said he considered it evidence that people who opposed wind and other sources of renewable energy are the minority.  He also said investing in renewables was simply playing to Scotland’s strengths and that it was delivering well in that respect.

“Renewables generated more than a third of the electricity used in Scotland last year, supports more than 11,000 jobs, and are helping to cut harmful carbon emissions,” said Mr Stuart.  “What other industry can help us tackle climate change while creating jobs and investment on the scale of our renewable energy industry?”

A report last month by Scottish and Southern Energy said that the UK Government’s deal for the construction of the two reactors at the Hinkley Point nuclear power station will see increased energy bills for the next 35 years.

According to the report: “the deal which the UK government has reached with EdF over the construction of two reactors at Hinkley Point, which will add considerable costs to consumer energy bills for 35 years.”

On 18 December 2013, the European Commission stated that new nuclear costs will likely push up consumer bills, stating Hinkley C, “could hardly be argued to contribute to affordability – at least at current prices, when it will instead and most likely contribute to an increase in retail prices.”

Comments  

 
#
bipod
2014-04-10 07:41

So according to the UK gov Scotland shouldn’t be allowed to talk to the EC because it is only a part of the member state, and if the Scottish gov has a problem they should only be allowed to take it up with whitehall. What next, should the Scottish government be prevented from talking with any and all foreign bodies? and only ever permitted to talk with the london government? Because that is the logical conclusion to the statements made by Michael Fallon.

The battered wife analogue is sounding increasingly relevant to this situation.
 
 
#
macgilleleabhar
2014-04-10 07:50

I believe that one of the main objections to renewable energy in the UK establishment is that there is a very limited secondary residual income from it.Once the “Renewable” machine is installed only repair and maintenance is required. There are no lucrative fuel or disposal contracts and because there are no well founded safety fears installation costs cannot be inflated over “Elf ‘n safety”scams.
 
 
#
call me dave
2014-04-10 08:23

There is also some feedback on the energy scare at BfS site.

www.businessforscotland.co.uk/…/
 
 
#
weegie38
2014-04-10 08:47

Definitely something going on. It may interest NNS readers to know that the External Relations Director of EDF is Andrew Brown, brother of a certain ex-PM…
 
 
#
RTP
2014-04-10 09:30

Regarding energy have a look at what the Treasury gets from Shell.


Exchequer’s tax take from Shell

By Erikka Askeland

Published: 10/04/2014

TOP MAN: Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said it had been a challenging year


Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell paid more than £9billion in tax to the UK Exchequer last year, a report has shown.

Of this, £2billion was paid on behalf of its upstream activities in the North Sea.

The group, which is headquartered in London and the Netherlands, paid a further £7billion in downstream retail and corporate taxes for the year.

For the full story, pick up a copy of today’s Press and Journal or read our digital edition now.
 
 
#
gerrydotp
2014-04-10 09:59

A “hostile act”?
Where do they get these people?
Basing nuclear weapons in Scotland is a hostile act.
Threating a country with border posts if it opts for independence is a hostile act.
Bringing the Lords into the referendum debate is a hostile act.
Threatening the population of a country with scare story after scare story is a hostile act.
Trying to gain information on a deal which is likely to face consumers with higher energy bills is not a “hostile act” it is an attempt to protect consumers from another fleecing which should encouraged.
 
 
#
cjmasta
2014-04-10 11:24

It`s not so long ago a Lord (Foulkes I think) suggested that the FM should have to ask the Westminster mob for permission if he wanted to travel abroad and speak with foreign governments regarding trade and other things.

I dread to think what is coming Scotland`s way if we are daft enough to vote no this year.
 
 
#
Leswil
2014-04-10 13:36

Oooomph, sounds like they have their sticky fingers caught in the door again, ouch!
 
 
#
jdman
2014-04-10 19:18

This is the issue where the gloves should come off.
A”hostile act”?
it needs to be made clear that every time they threaten us the price goes up or their lights go out, END OF.
 

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