Scottish independence: 'Yes' vote could hit energy sector, says UK government

Wind turbines The UK government said Scotland got 28% of subsidies for renewables while the nation accounted for 10% of electricity sales

An independent Scotland could expect to lose subsidies to green energy investment from the rest of the UK, the UK government has warned.

It estimates the average Scottish bill would rise by between £38 and £189 per year, if Scots are to sustain the current plans for renewable power.

The paper added that a "continuing UK would not be obliged to purchase energy from an independent Scottish state."

The Scottish government said the paper was "yet more scaremongering".

Earlier this week, the Scottish government set out its argument that the rest of the UK would rely on imports to meet its green power obligations.

However, this is disputed in a paper on energy produced by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, which is being published as UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey visits Edinburgh.

It says: "The decision to import energy from an independent Scottish state would be taken on a commercial basis and in the national interest of the continuing UK."

It counters claims from the SNP administration that both countries would wish to operate a shared all-Britain energy market.

Mr Davey told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "I think Britain's single energy market - where we are integrated as we are now, where energy flows across the border very easily - that makes our energy more secure, it keeps costs down and it will enable us to go green, to go low carbon. Split that up and all those benefits go."

The minister added: "As secretary of state for energy and climate change for the whole of the UK, I really care about what is happening in Scotland. If I am no longer secretary of state for energy in Scotland I have to put the interests of consumers in England and Wales and Northern Ireland first."

His point was made clear in the Whitehall document which said a common approach "would be very difficult when both would want to make decisions in the best interests of their citizens and consumers".

Analysis

"Scotland exports a lot of its green energy to the rest of the UK - supplying around a third of the UK's renewable power.

"That's a very close relationship in an area that's become one of the hottest political potatoes, so the future of energy has become an important issue in the referendum debate.

"It is certainly true that Scotland depends on the rest of the UK to buy its green energy at a subsidised price in order to sustain its big renewables industry.

"But it is also true that the UK depends on Scotland to supply them with enough energy to feed a growing demand and to meet its European targets for renewable power.

"The reality of this double dependency means that some kind of deal is likely to be struck if Scotland votes for independence, but the details of that deal and how much customers in Scotland would end up paying are far from clear."

It adds: "With a range of generation sources within its own borders and elsewhere, a continuing UK would not be obliged to purchase energy from an independent Scottish state."

The Westminster government paper, being published ahead of the 18 September independence referendum, says the UK is ranked second in the world for energy security.

However, the Scottish government argues that Scotland is Europe's most energy-rich nation, due to oil, gas, hydro, offshore wind, wave and tidal resources, and that the UK government has failed to ensure security of supply because of its policy delays.

Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the UK government paper was evidence of "yet more scaremongering".

He said ministers at Westminster would do better to maintain an amicable approach with Scotland.

Mr Ewing said he had not seen the energy document but his guess was that it would be misleading.

He believed it would not include costs of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point nor the decommissioning costs associated with Sellafield.

Mr Ewing told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "There is not sufficient capacity to ensure that we can keep the lights on without emergency measures such as asking businesses to shut down and bringing back mothballed plants into operation at much higher costs.

"The net upshot of all of this is that prices will rise because the UK has failed in its primary objective of securing sufficient indigenous electricity supply."

Ed Davey The report by the Department of Energy and Climate Change coincides with a visit to Edinburgh by UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey

However, UK Energy Secretary Mr Davey insisted that "all costs" had been taken into account. He added that what Mr Ewing had overlooked was that nuclear power was far cheaper than renewable energy, like offshore wind, is currently.

'Little difference'

A report published last month by Exane BNP Paribas is being highlighted by the SNP, saying political risk associated with UK energy policy has risen steeply in the past year.

With uncertainty about subsidy levels and the Labour leadership promising a temporary freeze on bills, the industry report says that the UK is now perceived as the country with the greatest political risk in the European energy sector.

The Whitehall analysis says that, in the event of a referendum "Yes" vote, the loss of responsibility for meeting Scottish demand for electricity would mean it would make little difference to the security of supply for the rest of the UK.

Scottish turbine The Scottish government says Scotland has massive oil, gas, hydro, offshore wind, wave and tidal resources

It goes on to claim that Scotland gets a disproportionately high share of support for green energy, receiving 28% of subsidies for renewables in 2012-13 while the country accounts for 10% of UK electricity sales.

It says Scottish grid improvements have taken nearly 30% of investment earmarked for the British grid between 2013 and 2021.

The paper claimed that remoter Scottish communities could not count, post-independence, on a subsidy for remote households which is backed by bill-payers across Britain, or on continued support for gas supply in some towns off the grid system.

Although the UK government has been criticised for the apparent lack of effective competition in the energy supply market, DECC argues that a smaller Scottish market could face less competition, and lose the "downward pressure on energy prices".

New member

There is also a warning that the obligations on Scotland to generate a share of its power from renewable sources is uncertain under independence, and could be raised as a result of negotiations on joining the European Union as a new member state.

On oil and gas, the paper says an independent Scotland would have to provide support of ten times as much as the UK - about £3,800 per head - to match the £20bn the UK government has committed towards decommissioning of North Sea equipment.

Scottish ministers hail Aberdeen as "Europe's oil and gas capital", while saying Glasgow was now the leading research centre in Europe for offshore wind technology. They say independence would allow Scotland to build on that success.

Scotland could expect to lose subsidies to green energy investment from the rest of the UK if the nation becomes independent, the UK government has warned.

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    Geoff Earl tweets: #ScotlandLive we have tried 2 bring change through the existing UK but our views are ignored by Westminster, time for a new approach YES.

    Hugh Livingston emails: Martin's point about a caring Scottish government is a worthy one. However, we cannot bring about reform of any kind if we don't have a solid financial and economic foundation to build on. Do you really think that the rest of the UK will agree to a currency union that burdens the English, Irish and Welsh with bailing out the Scots if another financial crisis looms?

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    15:03: Referendum library Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

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    Email: newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 14:55: Poverty - your views

    George Current from Edinburgh in reply to Hugh from Linlithgow on Scotland Live: Agree entirely. We are well up the ladder of devolution, which is a work in progress and has already more powers coming. It doesn't make sense to kick the ladder away and start again.

    David in Glasgow: Hugh from Linlithgow is deluded if he is seriously thinks radical change will ever happen with Westminster. Once we vote No, we have voted against our nationhood, why then should anyone anywhere take Scotland seriously? We will be the laughing stock of the world. Be brave people and vote Yes.

     
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  11.  
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    rosyth docks

    Mr Coaker MP said: "The jobs of thousands of Scots in our defence industry are secured by being part of the UK. They play a critical role in supporting our armed forces and helping to keep us all safe and secure."

    Mr Sarwar added: "We know the SNP will say and do anything to win the vote, setting aside the reality of life in an independent Scotland. The truth is that being part of the UK is good for Scottish jobs but a Yes vote puts those jobs at risk."

     
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    newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 13:24: Your Pictures

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    "I thus warmly welcome his prediction that Scotland's oil and gas industry will make a significant contribution well beyond 2050."

     
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    Thomas McGuigan BBC Sport

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    Email: newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 12:28: Get involved

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    10:43: Medical advice - your views

    Sheila Ferguson in reply to Lee Wootton on Scotland Live: A child with his parents cannot possibly count as abduction. They are his legal guardians. Everyone in the UK has the right to discharge themselves "AMA" - against medical advice. Do you want to take this right away? This case has got ridiculously out of hand. In the parents' eyes the doctors refused to give the child the optimal treatment for his cancer so they took him somewhere else to get it. How many charity appeals have you seen/given to - to take children to the US for instance - for "different" or "better" treatment?

     
  26.  
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    Email: newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 10:27: Medical advice - your views

    Lee Wooton: Can I just point something out to all those who are complaining about "police state"? This child was taken from the hospital without asking, against medical advice across Europe to a medical service that's recognised as being of lower quality than the NHS. If the hospital had not raised the alarm, I guarantee that many of the people complaining about heavy handedness would be complaining about the NHS letting a chid be abducted. Can we please stop complaining about doctors and nurses who worry about the wellbeing of a child and and recognise that the parents had a hand in things getting this far.

     
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    Text 80295 10:01: Medical advice - your views

    Norrie: We are fast becoming a Police State - chasing parents who did nothing wrong in taking their child out of hospital AND routinely arming police officers on our streets without the consent of the people. This has to stop.

    Patricia: Let this family be with this little confused little boy. What if this little boy dies without his family being with him - who will be responsible for this? This family were living in the moment of hope.

    Moira: It is easy to demonise doctors and the NHS because we want them to get it right every time. Resources and knowledge are finite and sometimes bad news is so painful that you block out the worst news you could possibly have. The little boy's story is a tragedy for him and his parents and no one will be more aware if that than the medics treating him.

     
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    09:37: Transfer Deadline Day Graham Fraser BBC Scotland

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    Text 80295 09:16: Medical advice - your views

    Maureen in Aberdeen: It's a disgrace the way the parents have been treated - the NHS is OK, but only OK. Who wouldn't go to the ends of the earth for their child? Doctors are not God, how dare they act as if they own someone's body and soul!

    H in Edinburgh: The little boy's parents could have sought a second opinion etc leaving their little boy safely in hospital. They put their wee boy in grave danger exposing him to germs and infections.

     
  37.  
    09:05: What the papers say

    Today's front pages don't just feature the referendum.

    The Scotsman's splash says banning the return of British jihadis to the UK could be illegal, while The Daily Record leads with a former soldier who says the 13-year operation in Afghanistan achieved nothing.

    compo

    Back on the referendum beat, The Herald warns of polling station clashes as tensions rise. Read our full review here.

     
  38.  
    08:55: A question of energy

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    You can read his analysis here.

     
  39.  
    08:45: Rise in skin cancer cases

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    Researchers from the Alan Lyell Centre for Dermatology in Glasgow found a significant rise in cases since 1990.

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    But they also noted that 85% per cent of men and 90% of women now survive for at least five years after diagnosis.

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  40.  
    08:32: All the sporting gossip

    Sporting Gijon's Serbian striker Stefan Scepovic has pulled out of a £2.4m move to Celtic at the last minute, while Celtic have told defender Virgil van Dijk he will not be allowed to leave on deadline day.

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  41.  
    08:22: Morning Call

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    Lines are open now. Call 0500 92 95 00, text 80295 or email morningcallscotland@bbc.co.uk.

     
  42.  
    08:15: Weather update BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Dry and bright with good sunny spells developing, the best in the south and east. The north west and Shetland will be cloudier with an odd very light shower. Winds will be light.

    Temperatures will reach 19 or 20C in the Borders, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen. It will be 17 or 18C in Stornoway, Glasgow and Dumfries and closer to 15C in Shetland.

    You can see a full forecast at BBC Weather.

     
  43.  
    08:09: Registration deadline looms

    Both independence referendum campaigns have urged people to register to vote if they have not already done so.

    Residents have until midnight on Tuesday to ensure they can take part in this month's ballot.

    Ballot box

    Voter registration in Scotland has already reached record levels, with more than 4.1 million people listed on the electoral roll.

     
  44.  
    07:58: Welcome Marianne Taylor BBC Scotland news

    Good morning and welcome to BBC Scotland Live. We'll be here till 18:00 with all the latest news, sport, weather and travel from across the country.

    You can keep in touch on Twitter using #ScotlandLive, via email or by text on 80295.

     

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