ScotWind: ‘Too much sold off for too little’ says former minister
Scotland has been “sold short” by the Scottish Government after it placed a cap on the recent ScotWind auction, a former minister has said.
Kenny MacAskill, now deputy leader of Alba, said the £700m secured by Crown Estate Scotland for 17 offshore wind projects was “paltry” in comparison to other auctions globally.
In particular, he highlighted the New York Bight auction, which last month agreed to lease six sites for a record $4.37bn (approximately £3.31bn).
It is estimated the 17 Scottish sites could produce as much as 24GW of power, compared to a maximum 7GW for the New York site.
MacAskill, the MP for East Lothian, urged Scottish ministers to set out “why New York can get billions and we get millions”.
But the Scottish Government has said the £700m was only the payment for initial lease award, reflecting challenging conditions to deploy floating technology in deeper water, and more investment would come through the supply chain and rental revenue, once projects were operational.
It set a cap of £100,000 per square kilometre of seabed for bids last year.
The paper published by Alba said: “While a maximum sum was set for ScotWind, New York Bight was not capped and bidding went into the stratosphere. Scotland has been sold short, with too much sold off for too little.”
It also warned the government did not currently have the resources to hold successful bidders to local supply chain commitments.
Firms had to commit to keeping 25 per cent of the supply chain in Scotland.
But MacAskill said self-assessment done by the firms would be “meaningless” and he urged the government to increase the capacity of its energy department to ensure these assessments were checked.
He added that fines would be “inadequate” for any firm found not to have stuck to this commitment, saying the government should “name and shame” any that fail to meet the 25 per cent target.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said ScotWind was a "massive step forward" on the climate agenda. They added: "These projects will deliver investment in the Scottish supply chain of at least £1bn for every gigawatt built, which will help create thousands of jobs and transform the Scottish economy.
“ScotWind will also deliver around £700m in revenues to the public purse for these initial awards alone. We’ve already made clear we will invest some of this to help tackle the twin climate and biodiversity crises.
"But in addition to these revenues, ScotWind promises to deliver billions more in rental revenues once projects become operational, to be invested for the benefit of the people of Scotland."