An independent Scotland would need to forge links with the rest of the UK in order to secure financing for the development of its renewable energy industry, according to Lord Adair Turner, the outgoing chairman of the UK Climate Change Committee.
Turner, who became the first chairman of the independent government advisory body on climate change when it was created in 2008, told Holyrood that such a relationship would be mutually beneficial to both parties, with Scotland requiring finance and England needing to import clean energy to meet EU emissions targets.
In an exclusive interview, Turner says: “I think if Scotland were to go down the independence route, or were to go down the devo-max route, there might well be complexities involved in other aspects of the subsidy regime, in particular ROCs (Renewable Obligation Certificates) but that would obviously be for negotiation at that time.
“There might be a commonality of interest between the fact that England, in order to meet its targets, would need to claim that it was buying clean energy from Scotland; Scotland, in order to afford development, would need a financing flow. That makes it possible to imagine a variety of constitutional arrangements that could make that work, but it would obviously depend hugely on goodwill and sensible approaches at the time.
“It strikes me that there could be a variety of ways of doing it under a variety of different constitutional structures, so as long as people are willing to work on that.” Turner also says that Scotland is “likely to become a net exporter of clean energy… to England” and that “there would have to be intelligent meetings of minds to make sure appropriate common interests could be pursued.” The issue of Scotland’s renewables development in relation to its constitutional future was debated recently following a submission by Scottish and Southern Energy to the UK Government’s consultation on an independence referendum, in which it warned that the risk of change could impact on investment decisions north of the border.