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by Margaret Taylor
20 January 2022
First Minister stands by ScotWind project after claims about bidders' records on human rights

First Minister stands by ScotWind project after claims about bidders' records on human rights

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has defended her claims that the ScotWind renewable energy project is both “truly historic” and “transformational” for Scotland after facing criticism from Scottish Labour that a number of companies granted rights under the scheme have poor human rights records.

The Scottish Government announced on Monday that 17 offshore wind projects have been given the initial go-ahead following an auction process that is expected to raise £700 million for the public purse. Big-name international energy companies were among those given the right to lease segments of the seabed on which to locate proposed wind farms.

Though he did not name any businesses specifically, during First Minister’s Questions Labour leader Anas Sarwar accused the government of selling “on the cheap the right to profit from Scotland’s energy transition to multinational companies with questionable human rights records”.

“One was fined $54m for bribing Nigerian officials and $88m for bribing Indonesian officials,” he said.

“Another one was found to have contributed to human rights abuses on one of its construction sites, of destroying villages in Myanmar, of relying on forced labour and using slavery to build pipelines.

“Surely these aren’t people the Scottish Government should be doing business with.”

In her response, Sturgeon said the companies selected to develop areas of Scottish coastline have “appropriate processes in place to do due diligence” and added that ScotWind is “one of the most exciting things for Scotland in a long, long time”. She added that that is “probably why Scottish Labour is being so negative about it”.

“Not only does this give us the potential to meet our own energy needs from renewable sources, it positions us with the ability to be a major exporter of renewable energy – including green hydrogen – and it gives enormous potential for our supply chain,” she said.

“The estimate is that for every gigawatt of power that will be generated from these projects there will be a billion pounds of investment in our supply chain and for the first time, of course, companies have had to set out in statements what they will do to support our supply chain.

“So this is good news. There are complicated consenting and planning process that lie ahead, but this offers massive potential to Scotland and its potential we intend to seize with both hands.”

In total, the government received 74 ScotWind applications, with the 17 successful bidders expected to develop a total of just over 7,000 square kilometres of seabed and generate a total of 25 gigawatts of clean energy. The £700m will be raised via option fees paid to the government, with the largest project, which is being led by BP Alternative Energy Investments, set to contribute £85.9m of that.

There is no guarantee that any of the projects will come to fruition or, if they do proceed, when any turbines will be built and installed. Consents must be awarded first before finance is raised and planning permissions granted.

As and when those hurdles have been crossed the supply chain commitments made by the relevant applicant will be published.

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