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« Hammer of the Scots - Josh 201 | Main | Science, advocacy and the Royal »

SNP hammering the Scots

The Scottish Tories, armed with their bright and shiny new energy policy (which can be summarised as "we're not going to be quite as silly as the SNP"), have decided to let rip at the Holyrood powers that be accusing them of driving Scots into fuel poverty:

A Scots politician has claimed wind farm subsidies are plunging Scots into fuel poverty.

In a Scottish Government debate on fuel poverty, Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser attacked the SNP for its staunch backing of onshore wind projects.

Opponents of the Government policy have claimed the generous grants awarded to wind farm developers have pushed electricity costs through the roof, leaving Scotland with some of the highest energy bills in Europe.

The subsidies were introduced across the UK last year and are expected to have cost up to £1 billion.

They offer a huge benefit to the energy companies as they push ahead with wind power projects but their cost in added on to household bills.

All this is quite true, of course, but I think we have a long way to go before Holyrood sits up and takes notice. Fuel poverty and frozen pensioners are secondary concerns when there is the green vote to pursue.

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Reader Comments (22)

Renewables added about £10 to last year's fuel bill. The majority ofthe increase was due to rising gas prices.

But then you knew that, didn't you?

Feb 7, 2013 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterScots Renewables

I don't think I'd want to be 'Scots Renewables' after the next few comments. Hope the shoes clean up nice from what you've stepped in:)

[BH adds: I hope the comments thread will be polite and that bait will not be risen to.]

Feb 7, 2013 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterdbd

"Fuel poverty and frozen pensioners are secondary concerns when there is the green vote to pursue."

The area of Britain to benefit most from *Global Warming*

Feb 7, 2013 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Scots Renewables -
Please review this prior BH post. Ofgem claims £27 per year per household. When the indirect costs are accounted for -- increased commercial energy costs are ultimately borne by consumers -- that would be multiplied by a factor of 2.3, so £62 per year. As the fraction of energy generated by renewables increases, so will the "green" cost.

Feb 7, 2013 at 8:57 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Do "green" voters really outnumber pensioners in Scotland? Some pensioners are well off and some are green but even so I would have thought that the number of pensioners who are concerned about fuel bills, even if only slightly anxious about them, would outnumber keen greens. But perhaps I'm mistaken. Perhaps constant propaganda about the dangers of global warming has convinced a large proportion of the Scottish population. It certainly seems to have converted the politicians!

Feb 7, 2013 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Scots Renewables

Wholesale gas prices here

Ofgem analysis of margins here

Feb 7, 2013 at 9:04 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

@Roy, 9:01pm. My thoughts exactly. Alex Salmond is nothing if not a populist. My own admittedly unscientific surveying indicates that the 'freezing pensioner' theme would appear a far more fruitful strategy than a green one. Then again, as this excellent article by Alex Massie outlines, perhaps it's down to the Borgen Delusion...

Feb 7, 2013 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougieJ

What Green vote?

Nationwide, at the last election, the Greens got roughly the same share of the vote as the BNP.

I don't see the mainstream parties going after the BNP vote.

And to be honest the BNP are less dangerous that the Greens.

Feb 7, 2013 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

The main parties have stopped the green vote rising by adopting green policies themselves.

Feb 7, 2013 at 9:34 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

@ BH. 9:34pm. If that is the case, I don't really mind; the implication being that they are just paying lip service to the ideas and will ditch them as soon as is pragmatically possible. I still retain a hope that Salmond, as a former oil economist, falls into this category but the jury's still out.

Feb 7, 2013 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougieJ

And south of the border:-

‘Around 90 per cent against the wind farms'

“The Standard have also been contacted with a West Lindsey District Councillor with very strong feelings about local wind farm developments.

Wishing to remain anonymous, he said: “Would they ever be built without taxpayers subsidies? I don’t think so.”

He continued: “Hard up families who have seen their energy bills more than double in the past few years are now having to pay big energy company’s who make massive profits money to make more hefty profits, whilst they end up in fuel poverty and severe hardship.”

“The money RWE would give to the people affected by the windfarm is money the local people have already paid in taxes, its like being robbed and then the robber giving you a tenner back and you are expected to be grateful.”

Feb 7, 2013 at 10:14 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Murdo Fraser is being two-faced. The Tory energy policy is still to support offshore wind, which is even more expensive than onshore. This is because they still support all the renewables targets and the so-called IPCC climate change scientific consensus.

Feb 7, 2013 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered Commenternimrod29

I may be an optimist, but I actually think a "tipping point" may be near. There is massive resentment of rising energy prices here in Australia, and a Scottish pensioner is in a far worse position. Labour (who support renewables) lost the last three state elections in a row out here, and in two of them they were annihilated. Power prices were a big factor.

All it takes is for one of the major parties to oppose the green junta and then the political concensus about "saving the planet" collapses. Thats what the conservatives have done in Australia. Power prices and something along the lines of "yes we support renewables, but after years of corporate subsidy, renewables have matured and must deliver without them", sounds like the way to go.

Disappointing that Scottish conservatives cant understand that - they have very little support anyway, so they would have nothing to lose.

Feb 8, 2013 at 2:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterBill

It would be extremely foolish of anyone to believe anything said by the renewables "industry". They employ liars by the hundreds. When governments set up subsidised "industries" so that even an idiot can make big money, then all sorts of liars and undesirable people flock like flies round a cow-pat. Just listen to anything said by RenewableUK.

Scots Renewables is either one of the undesirables or just a useful idiot cashing in on the scam.

Feb 8, 2013 at 6:42 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Scots Renewables
I don't have all the data to hand unlike other more informed people here so could you please substantiate your claim around the £10 per year increase. I am genuinely interested in case others have missed something in their analysis?

Feb 8, 2013 at 7:50 AM | Registered Commenterharoosh

Scots Renewables.

The people who are opposed to wind-farms, onshore and off, are opposed to them not only because they are expensive..and getting more so...but also because they are expensive, inefficient, ugly, unwanted, and useless and are a boondoggle diverting much needed capital and resources which are needed for other investment. The entire premise upon which they have come into being...that wind power is cheap and that CO2 is presently killing the planet.... is pretty much a busted flush.

I appreciate your livelihood may depend on it. If so, that is something else we have to factor in when analysing the strength and veracity of your arguments.

Merely bleating alnog the lines of "Hey, guys, they are not quite as expensive as you are saying! " is hardly a big argument in favour.

Feb 8, 2013 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

But a large majority of the UK population are in favour of increased renewables, including wind, as shown in recent surveys:

(original data for the DECC survey here

Interestingly, 88% are also worried about increased energy bills, but the survey questions do not link that to increased use of renewables (see the page on 'energy security' in the spreadsheet on

This type of survey reminds us that not everyone is as engaged in the arguments as blog denizens are: 64% have 'never heard of' carbon capture and storage, and 58% have 'never heard of' shale gas or fracking.

Feb 8, 2013 at 9:15 AM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

Ruth, that Guardian survey you link to is over a year old, I think some views have changed since then.

Regarding the DECC one, you have to look careful at how these surveys are done and how the questions are phrased. This one interestingly was done with face-to-face interviews. In this scenario, people are presumably more like to give the PC answer. And the question was a rather vague 'Do you support or oppose renewable energy'. It's hardly surprising that most people say yes to that - I think I might.

Feb 8, 2013 at 10:43 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

@ Ruth 09:15

"But a large majority of the UK population are in favour of increased renewables, including wind,..."

That is, until the increased costs they actually have to pay out of their own pocket, are explained to them.

Their enthusiasm wanes further, when it's pointed out how little, if any, CO2 is actually saved.

Feb 8, 2013 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Ruth Dixon /Paul Matthews
You are simply providing further evidence of why sceptics have an uphill struggle and the eco-warriors can get away with murder.
Of course we prefer renewable energy. Who wouldn't want something that doesn't use up the earth's resources? A good 80%+ of the population (any population, any country) don't know and have little enthusiasm for finding out what is meant.
Likewise there is very little reason why 58% should have heard of shale gas or fracking, in fact I'm surprised the figure isn't higher. But ask them if they believe that an energy source that could make the UK self-sufficient in gas for over a century ought to be explored and developed and I think we know what the answer would be, especially if you add in the idea that it could lead to a reduction in fuel bills!
Also if you ask people whether they believe the earth has warmed over the last 150 years a majority (including virtually everyone who calls him/herself sceptic) will answer 'yes', At which point the eco-warriors will run off shouting, "see; we told you. The people are on our side."

Feb 8, 2013 at 1:02 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

@Bill 2:42
Well done the Australian conservatives! The situation is Scotland is not so easy. The Scottish Tory energy policy is not really Scottish at all, as it has to conform to all the climate change policies and renewables targets imposed by the UK Government, the EU bureaucracy and the not quite deceased Kyoto Treaty. Hence they play word games by saying they would severely restrict onshore wind farms but, carefully unstated, they would go ahead with offshore wind which as we know is even more expensive.

The best way to kill the climate change Hydra which has taken control of all levels of our society is to use all the means at our disposal to discredit the IPCC.

Feb 8, 2013 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered Commenternimrod29

DougieJ is entirely right, Salmond is indeed a populist. So too was Savonarola, at least in the beginning, and look where that got him.

Perhaps Salmond feels he has to do something for industrial development. Otherwise when the North Sea oil and gas runs out Scotland will be back to its 17th century economy, exporting whisky, wool and mercenaries.

Bill, Kyoto is indeed deceased. Its terms require 55% of emissions from Annex 1 countries participating for it to be binding. The withdrawal of Canada and Russia makes it invalid. The recent COP extension of the Protocol is legally meaningless without changing its coming-into-force terms.

Feb 9, 2013 at 2:11 AM | Unregistered Commentercgh

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