Manifesto Analysis: The SNP

The SNP’s manifesto in relations to energy and the environment lacks in details and these segments are fairly short. It is fairly clear that the Party is not investing a lot of political capital into these policy areas. The policy statements that are present however are in line with what the SNP has been arguing for some time, especially in terms of wind power. They are also the only out of the six manifestos to be analysed that does not mention nuclear cheap tetracycline online power.

Key policies:

– Highly supportive of off-shore wind power and wants to maximise investments (into turbines but industry in general) in Scotland;

– Strong support for onshore wind power;

– Remove barriers to the growth of hydro-power and increase support for pump hydro and Carbon Capture & Storage schemes;

– Increase in community heating schemes;

– Making it simpler for communities to establish local energy companies and easier for community schemes to access the grid;

– The grid system should also be changed so that it would even more allow for remote parts of Scotland to still produce electricity and not be penalised for being remote;

– Anti-fracking

Find the full SNP manifesto here

Analysis:

The SNP’s manifesto was very predictable in terms of content with no real surprises. The Party’s unequivocal support for wind power is evident for anyone visiting Scotland with large amounts wind turbines cropping up across the country. Whilst wind power can and should play a part in the renewable energy mix that the UK will need, it is important not to get too excited about it. Wind power is still relatively expensive and paradoxically enough, it is quite often the case that is simply is too windy for them to operate, making them very unreliable.

We can only assume that the omission of nuclear power altogether in the manifesto means that the Party remains opposed to the idea of renewing the Scottish nuclear power stations Hunterston and Torness as well as expanding nuclear power. It was the SNP government that introduced the memorandum on nuclear power which in effect stops any construction of nuclear power in Scotland (despite energy policy per se being a reserved issue). This is a highly damaging stance by the SNP as the Scottish nuclear reactors are coming towards the latter half of their lifetimes. With the current construction times and major financial commitments required for nuclear power there is a risk that Scotland will find itself being increasingly reliant on gas and coal, running counter to the Party’s stance on the importance of fighting climate change.

Its stance of the grid system is good. It is ridiculous that inhabitants of remote parts of any part of our country, not only in Scotland, would be penalised for this. It also highlights a more important issue; in order for the UK to fully harness its capacity as a leader renewable energy we must have a grid system that allows for this to actually take place. The notion of a ‘smart grid’ is likely to become more and more important as the transition towards a decarbonised and highly renewables-based energy production takes place.

Parts of the manifesto are promising, such as support for CCS and improvements of the grid. Wind power can play an important role however the SNP are far too reliant on them in their proposed energy policy, completely omitting how base load will be generated, something that especially businesses are highly dependent on. The expansion of hydropower will be very limited as there is not many places left that can support any larger hydroelectric dams and pump hydro requires large amounts of land. Maybe this land will be acquired by the proposed land reform (or rather, land grab) that the SNP is proposing? Lastly, their manifesto is heavily undermined by the lack of position on nuclear power, however it is very likely still strongly anti-nuclear which poses a set of very important questions surrounding Scotland’s base load energy production in the decades to come.

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John Lindberg 32 Articles
John Lindberg is a former policy adviser to Sir Jamie McGrigor MSP and a self-declared science geek. His main interests are energy and environmental issues, with a burning passion for nuclear power. He recently graduated with a First from the University of Glasgow, MA (Hons) in Politics.

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