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Energy Debate, 10/11/05 [S]

A debate about energy was held in the Scottish Parliament on 10 November 2005. MSPs debated a motion put forward by Richard Lochhead (SNP) calling for an energy policy for Scotland. The matter of fuel poverty was a key issue in the discussion.

Richard Lochhead's (SNP) opening speech drew attention, among other energy issues, to fuel poverty. He called on the Parliament to support a Scottish energy policy to eliminate fuel poverty, deliver affordability and energy efficiency, secure continuity of energy supply and tackle global warming.

He said that every 5% increase in fuel bills puts an extra 30,000 Scottish households into fuel poverty and that currently 13% of Scottish households are fuel poor.

He moved the motion:

That the Parliament considers it unacceptable that in energy-rich Scotland fuel poverty blights our society; notes with concern that, despite Scotland possessing massive energy resources, urgent action is required to avoid an energy gap in the next decade; calls for the development of an energy policy for Scotland that will deliver security of supply, affordability, self-sufficiency and energy efficiency; recognises that the transmission charges for power generators, as permitted by the UK Government, will undermine these objectives; rejects nuclear power in favour of an energy mix that includes making Scotland the world leader in renewable energy and carbon capture and storage technology; believes that such a policy will boost our economy and meet our environmental obligations, and recognises that the Scottish Parliament requires the necessary energy powers and control over our oil and gas resources to deliver the nation's energy needs in the 21st century.


The Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, Allan Wilson, replied to Richard Lochhead that the Executive is working with the UK Government, regulators and energy companies to achieve a balanced energy policy. He said that the policy will deliver affordable energy for householders and bring down the number of people who are in fuel poverty.

He said that a review of the central heating programme showed that 9 out of 10 people who were in fuel poverty were lifted out of it after receiving support from the programme and that by 2007 all social sector housing tenants who want it will have central heating. He informed MSPs that more than 56,000 homes have been provided with central heating systems so far through the programme. He added that a further 64 million has been allocated to warm deal and that so far 218,000 homes have insulated and saw savings on their fuel bills as a result.

He moved the following amendment:

to leave out from "considers" to end and insert:

"supports the Scottish Executive's continuing commitment to the development of a wide range of renewable energy technologies in Scotland as a key element of a balanced energy supply mix; supports the Executive's commitment to achieving 40 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2020; supports the Executive's attempts to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016; looks forward to publication of the revised Scottish Climate Change Programme and the consideration given to the contribution of energy efficiency and renewables to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; recognises the Executive's commitment, as set out in the Partnership Agreement, not to approve the construction of any new nuclear power stations in Scotland until the issue of waste has been addressed, and supports the Executive's commitment to continue to work with the UK Government and energy supply industries to ensure that the immediate and future energy supply needs of Scotland are met."


Alex Johnstone (Con) said that energy efficiency cannot be addressed without addressing affordability.

He moved amendment:

to leave out from first "recognises" to end and insert:

"believes that renewable and nuclear energy are complementary and that, in order to achieve a balanced energy policy, no existing or potential resource should be ignored; urges the Scottish Executive to revisit its renewable energy policy to provide proper planning guidance to local authorities, communities and developers in relation to the siting of wind farms and, until this guidance is implemented, calls on the Executive to declare a moratorium on the determination of locally-opposed wind farm planning applications, and believes that the North Sea oil and gas industry is best served by the current regulatory arrangements."


Shona Baird's (Green) amendment focuses on tackling climate change and calls for a radical overhaul of our energy use. She moved amendment:

to leave out from "to deliver the nation's" to end, and insert:

"in order to deliver Scotland's sustainable energy needs and to tackle climate change which is recognised as one of the greatest threats to our economy, communities and environment; further considers that, if we are serious about tackling climate change, a radical overhaul of our energy use is urgently required, particularly addressing contradictory transport policies which are increasing carbon emissions, and further notes that a truly sustainable energy policy will require the widespread adoption of domestic and community-based renewable micro-generation as well as the development of decentralised energy networks."


During the debate Christine Graham (SNP) highlighted that the central heating programme does not cover children living in poverty or homes in which there are disabled people. She said that 46,000 children were living in fuel poverty in 2002. She said that children living in fuel poor houses may experience respiratory problems, miss school and therefore have less opportunity.

Euan Robson, (LD) said that heating installations must be accompanied by energy efficiency measures, the Scottish Executive must ensure that greater advice is available when appliances are used, and the free central heating scheme must remain. He also said that failure to replace old central heating systems will draw vulnerable groups back into fuel poverty.

Further attention was given to fuel poverty throughout the debate by MSPs from all parties.

After the debate the Minister's amendment was agreed to by 63 MSPs. Forty-eight were against the amendment.

To read the full debate see the Scottish Parliament's Official Report 10 November 2005.

Further information

Scottish Parliament's Official Report 10 November 2005