Scotland can lead on energy revolution, says Prospect

Low carbon energy and just transition goes hand-in-hand, Prospect tells SNP conference

Prospect’s event on energy policy at the Scottish National Party conference looked at how Scotland can be at the forefront of delivering a low carbon, good jobs revolution in the energy industry.

Prospect energy event at SNP conference

The event, organised with think tank, The Smith Institute, was addressed by:

  • Sue Ferns Prospect deputy general secretary
  • Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP
  • Alan Brown MP, SNP infrastructure and energy spokesperson
  • Mark Vyvyan-Robinson of EDF Renewables.

Paul Wheelhouse, highlighted what he believed were the opportunities for Scotland in renewable energy, saying that there was 10.5GW of renewable energy generation already operating in Scotland, with at least the same again with consent for construction.

Wheelhouse also referred to the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Commission, which was launched in September to take “those communities reliant on high carbon industries with us” into a low carbon future and for them to “feel like they have some ownership” over the future.

On behalf of Prospect, Sue Ferns told the event that: “We, in the trade union movement, are taking on the challenge of climate change very seriously.”

But she emphasised the vital “need to value and develop our existing energy workforce” as part of a genuine just transition to a low-carbon future.

She pressed the Scottish government on making sure there was proper and sufficient trade union representation.

The minister responded, “I hear you loud and clear and will feed that back” to Roseanna Cunningham, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

Skills shortages

Ferns also highlighted the need to prepare for life outside the EU as changes to migration policy had the potential to lead to skills shortages in the energy industry.

She welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to pay for settled status for EU nationals in its employ, and highlighted Prospect’s campaign for the Westminster Government and other employers to copy this approach.

Finally, she called again for the SNP to rethink its long-standing opposition to nuclear energy, highlighting its importance alongside renewables as part of the low-carbon energy mix.

Alan Brown called for more certainty in long term planning on energy policy, highlighting that there had been 22 energy ministers in Westminster over the past 20 years.

He restated the SNP’s policy on nuclear energy because he believed that it did not represent value for money. He called for the Westminster government to take a more hands-on role on energy policy.

He highlighted how some consumers had been ripped off because of the way that energy efficiency programmes had been commissioned, and also how UK government policy to encourage battery storage was being undermined by a reluctance to amend rules on how companies commissioning batteries pay for their connection to the grid.


On behalf of EDF Renewables, Mark Vyvyan-Robinson, said EDF Renewables had “enough generation to meet half the demand in Scotland and employs over 2,800 people in Scotland.”

Raising the fast-growing nature of the renewables sector he said ”We opened an Edinburgh office 18 months ago and at the time we were a little worried about how we were going to fill it, 18 months later we are opening a second floor because it is full already.”

He argued that by 2025, 55-60% of energy would be from renewables and that Scotland has excellent sites for renewable energy so supplying this growth is up for grabs, but also indicated that EDF, like Prospect, see a continued need for nuclear generation in the energy mix.

Questions and comments from the audience considered:

  • Decommissioning in Caithness
  • Wild land classification in planning
  • Grid connectivity including the connectivity of Orkney
  • Trade union involvement in just transition
  • Onshore wind issues and the planning process for wind farms
  • Just transition and avoiding mass job losses

You can read about all Prospect’s other party conference events here: