Fears for renewable projects as energy minister calls for urgent talks on decision to axe DECC

Paul Wheelhouse
Paul Wheelhouse

Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse has called for urgent talks with the UK Government following new Prime Minister Teresa May’s decision to axe the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall.

The Scottish Government said it was already working to safeguard investment in vital renewable energy projects, amidst the uncertainty created by the EU referendum.

The decision to scrap DECC has now led to concerns about the Prime Minister’s commitment to tackling climate change and support for renewable energy.

The First Minister raised the issue directly with the new Prime Minister when they met in Edinburgh on Friday – and Mr Wheelhouse has now pledged to take the issue further.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “We are looking forward to working with Greg Clark, the UK’s new Energy Secretary, who has often championed the benefits of a low-carbon economy.

“Mr Clark now has the opportunity to implement his vision by working with us to build on the remarkable progress already made in Scotland.

“But we’ll also be seeking assurances that the UK Government will back our efforts to create jobs and maximise benefits from the renewable energy sector, secure electricity supplies for everyone in these islands, and cut carbon emissions.‎”

Mr Wheelhouse also intends to highlight the challenges facing the oil and gas sector, which will remain of critical importance to Scotland during its transition to a low carbon economy.

He added: “In addition to raising concerns about the UK Government’s climate change ambitions, the move to scrap DECC has also raised questions about what it means in terms of Westminster’s attitude to the North Sea oil and gas industry.

“The sector is attempting to recover from one of its most difficult ever periods, and needs assurances that the UK Government is serious about doing all that it can to support the industry and the jobs it supports.

“The First Minister has already raised the issue of the decision to axe DECC directly with the new Prime Minister, but I want to take that dialogue further and am seeking urgent talks with UK ministers to outline our concerns.”

Climate Change Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, recently announced that Scotland had met its ambitious climate change targets six years early.

The Scottish Government has also committed to introduce a new climate change bill which will set a target to reduce emissions by more than 50 per cent by 2020.

Ministers want to secure UK Government support for pumped storage hydro schemes, onshore and offshore wind, as well as inter-connectors between Scotland’s island communities.

The Scottish Government will continue to operate a single Energy and Climate Change Directorate.

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