Politicians often come for in for criticism over hypocrisy, however, Douglas Young and the SNP, surely, take the biscuit.
Douglas complains of “food banks, fuel poverty” (Donating the licence fee; SN 11/12/14) and Alistair Carmichael having the effrontery to vote in favour of “fracking in Scotland” (Column inches; SN 12/12/14).
Let’s consider that viewpoint. First, Alex Salmond”s policy of making Scotland the “Green Capital of Europe”, with 80 per cent statutory carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction targets and 100 per cent of electricity from so-called “renewables”, necessitated the raising of energy prices to unaffordable levels – already achieved – but intended to go much higher.
The SNP needs high energy prices for two energy policy purposes:
1. to force citizens to reduce consumption (already achieved, magnificently);
2. to create the economic illusion that renewable energy and energy saving measures are cost-effective, when they are not.
Both require huge subsidy to persuade people to invest in them, domestically, or commercially.
The cheapest form of industrial-scale renewable energy is wind power which, until recently, cost two to three times (onshore and offshore) the price of conventional electricity from gas or coal-fired power stations. That multiple is now set to rise due to falling fossil fuel prices.
Utilities are forced to buy this uneconomic energy and pass the cost directly on to customers’ bills, thus raising the cost of energy, leading directly to increased fuel poverty. It’s a kind of “anti-Robin Hood tax” which transfers wealth from the poor to the rich, and it’s a cornerstone of SNP energy policy.
“Ah but…,” I hear the cry, “it’s high gas prices which are causing high energy prices!”
Oh, right. Well if that’s the case, fuel poverty can hardly be the fault of Westminster because the international gas market is outwith their control – unless, of course, the UK had it’s own gas resources and the government was inhibiting development?
Well, we do have huge shale gas resources in northern England, and the government has been trying to encourage development against a cacophony of alarmism about the well-established procedure of “fracturing” (fracking) the shale rock to release the gas. Proper regulation is required, not banning.
However, the SNP, in unison with ancient site-desecrating Greenpeace (http://www.thegwpf.com/greenpeace-stunt-in-peru-drives-home-global-climate-divide/) and other “green” activist zealots, has objected to the government’s proposal to allow “fracking” across the UK.
In the United States, rapidly developments in fracking technology have led to vast increases in production of both gas and oil from shale rock, causing the prices of both to tumble.
US gas prices halved within a few years, leading to a stampede of chemical companies repatriating their production facilities from the Far East and huge gas export facilities are currently under construction.
The effective end of US imports and growing exports have already impacted on the international gas price which has dropped by about eight per cent.
That is just the start. Oil prices recently dropped below $60/barrel (a 40+ per cent fall since June) due to soaring US shale oil production and exports which, in turn, will hit new North Sea oil and gas projects.
And whether Douglas Young and Nicola Sturgeon like it or not, UK shale exploitation will happen, with the result that gas and consequently, coal prices will fall significantly further, making renewable energy even more uneconomic than it is at present.
If the UK gas price were to follow the US example, onshore and offshore wind would become nearer four to six times the price of conventional energy and the SNP couldn’t possibly countenance that, could they? But it could solve fuel poverty?
“Aye, we ken that, but then the English widnae buy oor renewable energy, an that widnae dae, ye ken!”
Indeed, that’s precisely why the SNP have objected to Westminster’s pan-UK fracking proposal and why Douglas Young is so “black affrontit” by Alistair Carmichael voting for it.
And food banks? Well, in your editorial on Shetland Charitable Trust’s “Scrooge-like” proposal to end pensioners’ Christmas bonuses, even for those most needful, you report: “…..more than a third of isles households live in fuel poverty, and almost 1,500 homes spend more than a fifth of their income on heating their homes.”
If that’s the case, many of those people are likely to have the choice, “heat or eat”, forced upon them. In the absence of “heat banks,” they will choose to “heat” and head for the “food banks”.
Westminster is far from “snow white”, however, it’s clear that both rising fuel poverty and increasing use of food banks are a direct consequence of SNP energy policy.
It follows that for Douglas Young to write here, blaming Westminster for “food banks, fuel poverty and fracking”, is humbug. Pure, unadulterated, humbug!