FOR decades the entire subsidy burden for providing electricity to the Shetland Isles has fallen on the shoulders of the electricity consumers of the north of Scotland, but suddenly David Cameron, on his first visit to these islands, announces that he is to spread the subsidy cost across the whole of Great Britain.
Given that Westminster has control over energy policy in the UK, why is it only now that we get such news? Could it be that the forthcoming referendum has had some influence?
It is only a couple of weeks ago that the Scottish government’s Commission on Energy Regulation drew attention to this subsidy arrangement, so it appears that an eagle-eyed civil servant in London has spotted an opportunity to enable David Cameron to demonstrate “how passionately he cares about the United Kingdom”.
How many more examples of his passionate care can we expect in the next two months?
When the old North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board (NSHEB) was privatised in 1990 at a very generous price, a large proportion of its electricity was being produced by its 1,400 MWs of hydro, most of which had been built by that company since the war and paid for by its Highland consumers.
These hydro stations were at that time producing the cheapest electricity in the UK but no special compensation was paid to the Highlands.
A bit of relief from subsidising the Shetlands is welcome, but how about a bit of compensation for the massive hydro asset that they lost 25 years ago?
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