Yesterday, the Scottish Conservatives, through their leader, Ruth Davidson MSP and MEP Struan Stevenson emphasised the need for a more balanced mix of power sources than is envisaged by the Scottish government.
Their strategy is driven by three concerns:
- securing baseload, the ‘keep the lights on’ imperative
- keeping tariffs to the consumer down
- taking advantage of all available resources.
These drivers of the strategy mean that the Conservatives are advocating:
- the use of new nuclear power to secure baseload, with the building of new power station to replace the aged Hunterston B and Torness;
- the extraction of shale gas and coal methane gas from Scottish reserves;
- a moratorium on onshore wind – this includes a call for hard pressed councils to be given power to stop all wind farm applications for a year.
Ruth Davidson said that if Scotland gets the energy balance right, it will minimise the cost of energy for consumers and the impact of wind farms on communities across the country.
Struan Stevenson underlined the reality that the currently installed, under application and planned wind farms in Scotland would lead to Scotland overshooting its energy targets.
For Argyll was opposed to nuclear energy but, on the evidence of the total cost – financial, environmental and in their limited lifespans [with early decommissioning and replacement] and their impact on activity tourism – of renewables alongside the variable security of the power they produce, we now accept that new nuclear power is the sane solution to the critical security of baseload. We just have to do it very well and to operate and maintain it very well. And why should we ever aim to do less than that anyway?
We have concerns about shale gas extraction, with the real problem of the safe disposal of significant volumes of toxic fluid wastes and of their potential in use and in disposal to penetrate the water table.
Our concerns centre on the controls that might [not[ be applied and on the integrity of the regulation and monitoring of compliance which night [not] be carried out.
We accept though, that the responsible, well managed and well regulated extraction shale gas is of potential benefit to the energy mix and to the cost of power to consumers in the short term.
Today [29th January] the Scottish Government is to update its position on meeting its climate change targets on the reduction of emissions. Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse will be addressing MSPs on the subject in the chamber at Holyrood later today.