Government policy is putting wild land at risk, Canavan says

Government policy is putting wild land at risk, Canavan says

The head of the Ramblers in Scotland has called on the nation’s new Conservative leader to lead a change in energy policy.

Dennis Canavan, convenor of Ramblers Scotland, said Government policy is destroying wild land and should be top of the new leader’s agenda when he or she meets David Cameron.

The Tories’ new Scottish leader is due to be announced tomorrow, and Mr Canavan said the changes needed were urgent.

“I want to see the new Tory leader stand up to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and tell him what is wrong with UK Government energy policy and persuade him to make some fundamental changes,” he said.

“The top priorities must be to abolish the subsidy paid to the developers of large scale onshore windfarms and to restructure the regulatory regime so that Ofgem is split up to create a new energy regulator for Scotland, responsible to the Scottish Parliament.”

Mr Canavan, himself a former Labour MP and independent MSP, said: ““UK Government energy policy is destroying the finest wild land in the UK with the relentless expansion of industrial-scale windfarms across Scotland.

“The crazy financial subsidies provided to energy companies through the levy applied to all UK electricity consumers are responsible for destroying the natural heritage of Scotland.

“Why do this when the cost of these subsidies is also driving more and more of our citizens into fuel poverty? In addition, it is making all our commercial enterprises less competitive, unless they are one of the big six energy companies.

“The subsidy paid to the energy companies through the renewables obligation must be removed from large-scale land based windfarms and redirected to other forms of renewables developments, especially offshore tidal, wave and wind developments.”

He added that renewable developments on land should be small-scale, such as using biomass, ground-source heat, solar energy and farm, croft and community projects based on hydro-power or small wind turbines.

Mr Canavan also called for a Scottish energy regulator to be set up, saying Ofgem was not acting in the best interests of consumers and the public north of the border.

Dennis Canavan: 'We need a new Scottish Tory leader who will stand up for Scotland'

Dennis Canavan: 'We need a new Scottish Tory leader who will stand up for Scotland'

“Ofgem is no longer fit for purpose,” he added. “Its failure to robustly challenge the subsidy regime and its attitude towards the development of the national grid points to an organisation that is more interested in a cosy relationship with the energy companies than safeguarding and securing the public interest in energy supply.

“Ofgem has been the driving force behind the disastrous Beauly to Denny power line, seemingly oblivious to the impact of this on the Scottish landscape and the escalating costs of the project as the £330m cost quoted to secure planning approval has now risen to £600m as the developers, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy, ride the Ofgem gravy train.

“The only answer is to scrap the National Grid and establish a Scottish Grid, supervised by a Scottish Ofgem, accountable to the Scottish Parliament.

“Many Scottish Tories are deeply concerned at the UK Government’s energy policy.

“But even with MEP Struan Stevenson leading the Scottish Tory challenge on energy policy, the Prime Minister appears to be asleep at the wheel.

“We need a new Scottish Tory leader who will stand up for Scotland and demonstrate that it is Scottish politicians who decide what is good for Scotland, not the directors and shareholders of energy companies or out-of-touch Westminster politicians.”

Four MSPs, Jackson Carlaw, Ruth Davidson, Murdo Fraser and Margaret Mitchell are standing for the post of Conservative leader after Annabel Goldie resigned.

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