Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, has attacked the government for the continuing delay in submitting the EU state aid application for an “Islands Strike Price” for renewable energy companies operating in the isles.
The islands strike price is a mechanism for reducing the extra costs paid by generators in the isles for getting their electricity to the market.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael said:
“The minister will know that the application for state aid clearance for the Islands Strike Price has been ready and sitting in the department since the New Year. The continuing failure to submit it is causing enormous uncertainty and a massive loss of confidence amongst renewable energy generators in the northern and western isles. Will she agree to meet with me and the Hon. Gentleman from Na h-Eileanan an Iar along with a delegation of local renewable energy developers so she can understand and hear form the horse’s mouth just how serious this is for our isles.”
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom replied: “The Rt. Hon Gentleman and the Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee met with my officials only recently to discuss these issues and I do assure him that my officials have met with several representatives of the renewable industry specifically discuss remote island wind. I will be certainly be happy to meet again with the Renewable Energy Forum to discuss our decisions once we have taken them.
Commenting afterwards, Mr Carmichael said:
“Since the Conservatives won the election last year and formed a government on their own they have systematically stripped away all support for renewable energy generation while driving on with building new nuclear power stations and fracking. The possibility of an Islands Strike Price is one of the few remaining helpful tools that they have not yet deliberately broken. With every week that passes, however, it looks increasingly likely that they will not go ahead with it. She recently told the Energy Select Committee that the application for state aid approval was with the EU Commission. It is not. It is sitting in DECC waiting for a decision to be made about whether or not the government will go ahead with it.
“As I told the minister today this delay is causing enormous uncertainty and a rapidly growing lack of confidence amongst businesses wanting to invest in the isles. Without this strike price you will never see the proper development of wave and tidal power. The industry is not asking for a lot here – only the chance to meet the minister and to put their case to her directly. Her unwillingness to do so until after a decision is made makes me suspect that a decision is more or less made that will leave the industry in the islands operating at a disadvantage.”