Scotland politics

Alex Salmond says move to scrap energy plan 'tragedy'

Alex Salmond
Image caption Alex Salmond is addressing the conference at the weekend

Scotland's first minister has said the coalition government's move to scrap the UK's first carbon capture project in Fife was a "tragedy".

Alex Salmond was speaking to BBC Radio Scotland from Inverness, where his party is holding its annual conference.

During the interview he also said the SNP was doing all it could to push the economy forward.

In his opening conference speech, Mr Salmond called for Holyrood to take control of Scotland's energy resources.

On the issue of scrapping the Longannet power station project, Mr Salmond told Good Morning Scotland presenter Gary Robertson that it was technically a "perfectly feasible" plan.

He added: "The country that gets there first [with carbon capture technology] is going to have a huge export market of that technology worldwide, as it should be. This is not only a world-leading but a planet-saving initiative."

Mr Salmond believed that the Energy Secretary Chris Huhne's decision not to proceed with the Longannet project was a tragedy. He said a "key lead in a key technology" had been sacrificed.

The UK government later said it was fully committed to carbon capture technology and "preferably in Scotland".

When asked about the future of the Longannet station, Energy Minister Charles Hendry told MPs that question was one for the owners, but he added that the coalition was committed to the technology.

On the economy, Mr Salmond said: "In Scotland employment is higher and unemployment is lower and economic activity is higher.

"Everything the Scottish government is doing is trying to push the economy forward and we think about jobs and investment all of the time."

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Media captionFirst Minister Alex Salmond discusses Scottish energy and the economy on Good Morning Scotland

The SNP is holding its first conference since the party's landslide May election win, with the aim of boosting support for independence.

The party has set a target of doubling its membership to almost 40,000 before the referendum, due in the second half of the five-year parliamentary term.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the party had a solid record.

The Scottish government has come under opposition pressure to hold the independence referendum now, but ministers said they were sticking to a manifesto commitment on the timing of the vote.

'Plan MacB'

Speaking as the four-day conference got under way in Inverness, Ms Sturgeon, the SNP's deputy leader, said: "In May, the people of Scotland gave us a historic mandate to govern, and the momentum as we build towards the referendum.

"In office, we have shown that we can govern well, and in the interests of the whole nation.

"Scotland's NHS is safe from Tory privatisation plans, our students have been protected from tuition fees for their higher education, and we are maintaining the 1,000 extra police officers on our streets while they are being cut south of the border."

Ms Sturgeon added that the Scottish government's alternative economic strategy - dubbed by First Minister Alex Salmond as its "Plan MacB" - had delivered higher employment rates than the UK as a whole.

The deputy first minister said: "The political map was redrawn in May, and this conference is our opportunity to thank those who gave us their trust and to set out the next steps in Scotland's journey."

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