Energy union GMB Scotland has joined the Civil Engineers Scotland Committee in calling for an expert-led debate on Scotland’s energy policy.
On 29 October the engineering institution said there was a “mixed understanding of technology and risk” on issues such as fracking, and called for debate based on evidence, not emotion. The sentiment was expressed in the energy section of The Scottish Infrastructure Scorecard, a report released by the organization once every Parliamentary term.
Due out in early November, the report highlights Scotland’s energy ‘quadrilemma’; the need to simultaneously balance reducing carbon, minimising consumer cost, ensuring security of supply and taking into the account the social acceptability of different types of energy source. Whilst it recognizes energy policy as principally the domain of Westminster, it calls for the Scottish government to articulate a clear vision of how it wishes to fill the gap that will be created as over half of Scotland’s current electricity generating capacity is retired in the next decade.
Professor Gary Pender, Chair of the Institution of Civil Engineers Scotland Committee, said: “Scotland will transition from being a net exporter to being a net importer of electricity if the closures of Longannet, Hunterston and Torness are not replaced by new development. We will be calling for a national debate on how we, as a country, deal with this to ensure that we have a resilient supply with sufficient capacity for the long term.
The call for an evidence-based debate was echoed by Gary Smith, Acting Secretary of GMB Scotland, who said: “We do need a sober honest debate. We have high levels of fuel poverty in Scotland. Having access to gas is crucial to tackle fuel poverty because gas is 4 times cheaper than electricity. If anyone disputes the case for gas then they should put in their manifesto that they want people to turn off their gas boiler and replace it with electricity at the cost of thousands and then watch the bill to heat their homes go up fourfold.
Observing that “we have been fracking in the north sea for decades” without earthquakes or subsidence problems, he said: “There has been a lack of honesty about energy from Scottish politicians of all parties. It is about the bitter irony that whilst there has been a frenzied debate about fracking we are losing hundreds of jobs in the steel sector due to high energy prices.