UK Government delaying biggest ever Hydro scheme approved by SNP three years ago but James Cook is not saying why

James Cook has had to work hard to hide the real story here.

Only three paras down:

Scottish ministers approved the 1.5GW pumped storage facility in 2020.

But power giant SSE wants assurances from the UK government before finally signing it off.

A spokesperson for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said it was “committed to supporting the low carbon hydro sector, including hydro storage”.

Then, further down, this:

But both Drax and SSE have been reluctant to press ahead without assurances from Whitehall.

“SSE needs clarity around how the UK government is going to support projects like Coire Glas,” Mr McCutcheon explained.

“It was a key element of their energy security strategy last year, but we need to see how that’s going to work in practice.”

He added: “It doesn’t require subsidy but they are enormous investments.”

Specifically, SSE would like a commitment to a revenue stabilisation mechanism and more assurances about how the regulated energy market would reward low carbon power generation.

Is this, below, why Drax and SSE want reassurances about plant generating electricity in the North of Scotland?

Scotland's green revolution threatened by huge charges levied by UK's Ofgem  – Business for Scotland

from SNP Media today:

The SNP has slammed the Tory government after new National Grid figures reveal Scottish generators will be unfairly penalised and forced to pay £465million a year in transmission charges by 2026/27 – while England and Wales will be handed a subsidy of £30million a year.
It follows industry concerns that Scottish renewables firms pay huge fees to connect to the National Grid – while equivalent English projects are paid to connect to the very same grid.
Branded the ‘Great Scottish Renewables Robbery’ by Stephen Flynn MP, the Westminster government currently forces Scottish generators to pay the highest rates in Europe – with these new figures from the National Grid confirming just how reliant on Scottish fees the UK Government is.
The UK Government has so far refused to use its powers under Section 185 of the Energy Act 2004 to cap transmission charges in areas where they are hindering investment in renewable energy generation, despite various reports that have cited the bloated rates as a barrier to renewable expansion.
In the House of Commons Chamber today, the SNP Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) spokesperson said Tory Minister Greg Hands was refusing to take action to deliver fairness in the system because revenues from Scottish generators are too valuable to Westminster as they subsidise England and the entire National Grid.
Commenting afterwards, Stephen Flynn MP said:
“These damning figures from the National Grid prove that Scotland is being unfairly penalised by the Westminster government. It’s clear the Tories have absolutely no interest in making the system fair for Scotland, because they want to continue forcing Scottish generators to subsidise the rest of the UK – plain and simple.

“The Tories are guilty of the Great Scottish Renewables Robbery. We know Scotland pays the highest transmission charges in Europe and these grossly unfair rates are holding back Scotland’s renewable energy potential by acting as a huge barrier to expansion.

“Scotland has the potential to lead Europe in renewable energies, but we are being hampered by a Tory Government with no interest in our net zero future – and who seem happy for Scotland to be at a competitive disadvantage not just with the rest of Europe but within the UK too. It makes a mockery of Tory claims that this is a union of equals. 

“We already know that Scotland has huge potential to lead Europe on renewable energy, now we just need the full powers of independence to ensure that potential isn’t squandered by Westminster.”
Link to Stephen Flynn’s BEIS questions – (Min 12:12:13 – 12:14:20) 
SSEN report
Section 185

Why has James Cook not reported this?


7 thoughts on “UK Government delaying biggest ever Hydro scheme approved by SNP three years ago but James Cook is not saying why

  1. Westminster doesn’t want investment in Scottish renewables because it would expose their costly plans for nuclear power stations.
    That and,of course,Scotland has to be seen as being dependent on England for everything.
    Unfortunately,so do too many Scots.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What’s the hurry? It’s not as if there’s an energy shortfall.
    EDF will be closing their AGRs soon, leaving Torness and Sizewell in service.
    Drax have an application to double the capacity of Cruachan Pumped storage.
    A new DC link will run from Beauly to Hull to deliver 4GW of wind and hydro generation direct.


  3. Aye, yet another “ignore the elephant in the room” job from James Cook, with undoubtedly the most ludicrous “Analysis by Kevin Keane” it has been my misfortune to read through only to arrive at the exact same conclusion “WTF is he smoking?”

    You need to scroll all the way down to the 3rd last paragraph to glean what the splash headline “£100m boost for biggest UK hydro scheme in decades” actually means-
    “The £100m outlay announced by the FTSE 100 company will be used for exploratory work, which includes boring a tunnel four metres wide for about 1km into the hillside to assess the geology of the site”.
    – “SSE are going to do a site survey….” would have been quite sufficient…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is a growing list of examples of Westminster’s influences and actions on energy and ‘net zero’ issues that are not in Scotland’s best interests and certainly not within Scotland’s democratic control!

    This first example is of course more than a little ironic! On 20 October 2021, there were press reports of Sir Ian Wood commenting on Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS): ‘Acorn Project: Sir Ian Wood urges UK to rethink carbon capture snub’.

    This is the context of the Acorn Project to be based at the St Fergus gas terminal in Aberdeenshire. However, sites on the Humber and Liverpool were chosen in the first round of funding for the UK Government’s £1 billion CCUS scheme, with the Scottish site considered a “reserve”. Back then Wood stated: ‘“AT THE VERY LEAST I urge the UK Government to reconsider their decision and add a third cluster to the Track 1 programme which should undoubtedly be the excellent Scottish bid.” (my emphasis)

    A Unionist of influence? Well it seems not. On 19 March 2023, Wood is again commenting on the Acorn CCUS project. This from the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce:

    ‘Sir Ian welcomed the commitment to support carbon capture, but he URGED THE UK GOVERNMENT TO CONFIRM, AS A PRIORITY, that the Acorn project will benefit from this funding.’

    ‘He said the announcement of the CCUS funding in the (latest) Budget was welcome – even though there was NO SPECIFIC MENTION OF THE ST FERGUS SCHEME FROM the chancellor last Wednesday. Acorn – the backbone of a wider Scottish “cluster” of carbon-capture initiatives – is currently only a reserve project after it missed out on track-one status.’

    ‘The leading enterpreneur told the Press & Journal: “Removing its reserve status and allowing it to move forward will unlock billions of pounds of private-sector investment, support significant new job creation across the north-east of Scotland and help ensure the UK accelerates toward meeting net-zero targets.”

    However, Sir Iain did not end his negative criticisms of Scotland’s energy and related prospects due to UK government policies: ‘.. Sir Ian said the chancellor’s failure to apply a price floor for the windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers was “disappointing”.

    ‘He added: “This policy is CREATING AN ADVERSE ENVIRONMENT FOR INVESTMENT AND JOBS precisely at the time we need to be maximising domestic energy security. We must have a more-stable fiscal regime to incentivise this which will, in turn, allow us to accelerate our energy-transition ambition.”

    So it’s Westminster policy – from a government we didn’t vote for (again) that is critically influencing the development of Scotland’s energy resources. It’s a long list:
    – on pump storage investment (as in the main blog post)
    – on CCUS investments
    – on where and when investments in establishing the new hydrogen economy will take place
    – on energy pricing for domestic and business users
    – on network transmission charges
    – on taxation on energy producers, including windfall tax
    – on where Scotland’s renewable energy from offshore wind is being taken – notably to the north of England
    – and now moves to push nuclear power generation rather than marine renewable sources more appropriate for Scotland’s needs.

    There may be other examples. However, the nature, scale and importance of all this cannot be underestimated. The development of Scotland’s indigenous energy assets are on a cusp: decisions being taken now will have ramifications for decades to come.

    Big strategic development decisions are being taken in Westminster on Scotland’s behalf: we have little agency. And they are being taken not only by a government – but also within a political ‘system’ – which AS A MATTER OF (UNIONIST) PRINCIPLE does not want Scotland to have agency on matters of such importance to the future of our children and grandchildren and beyond!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Just when will one of these multi billion pound companies take Westminster to court because carbon capture,or electricity generation are being discriminated against in relation to their peers. Or because they (waistemonster) are contravening the (hated) internal market legislation. By charging Scottish electric generators far in excess of the english generators.


  6. Scotland. In surplus and nearer the source pays more.

    Westminster is paying £13Billion, a year over ten years on nuclear decommissioning but plans to build more. HS2 years over time and budget. A total waste of money.


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