IS the UK Government deliberately trying to sabotage Scotland’s goal of becoming a world-beating decarbonised economy powered by renewable energy? It certainly looks that way.

First came the shock post-election announcement in 2015 by then Energy Secretary Amber Rudd (fast becoming the Tory’s nasty news specialist) which ended subsidies for onshore wind power and kyboshed renewables projects large and small across the UK. Scotland was particularly hard hit because we supply the bulk of British renewable energy. Then a fund for carbon capture was scrapped after David Cameron had described the technology as “crucial” for the UK.

Needless to say, the place earmarked for the biggest investment was in Scotland, at Peterhead. And this time last year, tax relief on investments in community renewables was axed, drawing most new community wind, solar, hydro or biomass projects in Scotland to a premature grinding halt.

But Ms Rudd’s explanation for all this chaos sounded so reasonable: “We’ll focus support on renewables when they’re starting up – getting a good deal for bill payers is the top priority.”

As ever, though, you have to take that with a pinch of salt – or even a radioactive isotope. Because although the Tory Government doesn’t think onshore wind qualifies as an “emerging renewable technology” anymore, it does think the oft-postponed Hinkley C nuclear power plant does.

This is extraordinary.

On the Western and Northern Isles wind energy is still in its infancy because successive UK governments over more than a decade have failed to approve construction of sub-sea interconnectors needed to connect island green energy with the mainland UK grid. The last time I was on the Swedish island of Gotland they were laying their second 1GW cable to the mainland – same story on the tiny Danish island of Samsoe where the local farming community runs the whole venture with almost all wind energy income remaining on the island.

Scottish islands have higher wind speeds than both these Nordic green energy hubs, yet they’ve had to stand on the sidelines and watch as the wind revolution rolls out elsewhere, leaving islanders with uncertainty, fuel poverty, high energy prices and a stuttering economy. Only in Britain would such a rich natural resource remain untapped. Only in Britain would island communities be so completely overlooked and so completely powerless to do anything about it.

An island interconnector would represent “emerging renewable technology” in the UK – but despite calls this week for a decision to end years of uncertainty and prevent twitchy would-be investors drifting elsewhere, it’s unlikely to happen any time soon.

But it’s not just island wind that’s been overlooked, it’s also pump storage – where wind turbines are located by hydro electric dams so surplus wind energy can be used to pump water back up to the dam for release at moments of high demand. That way intermittent wind can be converted into baseload hydro power (available at the flick of a switch) which helps the grid do without standby fossil-fuel or nuclear-powered stations which are currently needed for days the wind doesn’t blow.

Scots could become world leaders in energy storage, a boring-sounding but game-changing technology that could revolutionise energy production. But does that qualify as an “emerging renewable technology”?

No-one will know until new UK Government contracts are awarded in 2017, which means the folk who lectured independence-supporting Scots about creating instability have cheerfully left a major industry in limbo for two years.

And it gets worse. It’s not yet clear if any of the highly successful tidal and wave energy projects being trialled in the water off Orkney will be awarded any of the UK Government’s “Contracts for Difference”, now the only remaining funding mechanism for renewable energy projects. And even if they are successful, the money won’t roll till 2021. Nice.

In 2014, Alistair Carmichael and Brian Wilson assured voters that renewable energy would be jeopardised by a Yes vote. Yet now the Hinkley C nuclear power plant is regarded as an “emerging renewable technology” by the UK Government – even though nuclear has been working in Scotland longer than large-scale wind, and nuclear isn’t renewable but reliant on finite supplies of uranium. But wholly renewable, pioneering and locally plentiful marine energy which has hardly yet applied for commercial subsidy may not qualify as an “emerging renewable technology”.

So the question arises again: is this a deliberate attempt by the UK Government to destroy an invaluable industry which would provide a vital buffer of green energy, income and jobs as Scotland transitions from oil dependency towards a new, decarbonised economy? And since the Scottish Government has publicised its ambitious aim of making Scotland green-electricity self-sufficient by 2020, are UK Government tactics intended to make Nicola Sturgeon look inept and the economic case for independence more difficult?

As the suppressed McCrone report on Scotland’s oil potential demonstrated 40 years ago, Westminster has considerable form when it comes to thwarting Scotland’s energy resource lest realisation of its potential boosts the case for independence. It was oil last time around – is it wind, marine and hydro today?

It’s hard to say.

Imperial College energy expert Dr Rob Gross observed at the time of the 2015 subsidy cuts: “This is primarily a politically motivated change.” But not one taken primarily with Scotland in mind – or the environmental interests of the planet.

Public opinion in key rural Tory seats is so deeply opposed to wind farms that ending subsidies for onshore wind had to go into the Tories’ 2015 manifesto, even though it’s the cheapest form of renewable power in the UK. Similarly, the Tories have now abandoned David Cameron’s early fondness for hugging huskies. Despite signing up to the Paris Agreement on climate change, the National Grid has announced that Britain is almost certain to miss its 2020 emissions targets – even though Scotland is currently ahead of its reduction targets. A spokesman said: “The [UK] Government has to change the trajectory or we are going to fail. We need to learn our lessons from where things have gone wrong so far.”

CBI director-general John Cridland has been just as blunt: “From the rollback of renewables to mixed messages on energy efficiency, [UK Government] changes send warning signals about the UK as a place for low carbon investment.”

This week, of course, there have been further warnings from the Scottish Government, Scottish Power and the leaders of three island councils. But if Theresa May isn’t listening to co-signatories of the Paris Agreement, representatives of big business or experts in the National Grid, it would be astonishing if she bothered to listen to Scots.

So despite the unfairness of it all, despite the hypocrisy of the UK Government’s thinly-disguised intention to fund nuclear power at the expense of everything else, Scots may just have to get crafty and find some clever ways round the current devolved mess where Westminster is in charge of energy policy and Holyrood can only influence energy policy through shared responsibility for climate change and complete responsibility for planning.

Maybe, though, the community sector is leading the way.

The current model is to set up a local energy project and sell power to the grid – that means the community sells its energy at a low wholesale price but inhabitants then have to buy it back at a higher retail price. Community Energy Scotland has 40 pilot projects across Scotland to create local smart grids which means community projects can get a higher price from locals – but it’s still lower than the full retail price for them.

These schemes give greater control locally and help democratise the energy system. A much higher proportion of value is kept locally, oil use is substituted with local renewables, the area can decarbonise more quickly and costs are reduced. Essentially, if it works and if systems can be adjusted to cope, more and more communities will be consuming electricity that’s been generated locally.

Mull is a pioneer. Mull and Iona Community Trust built a community hydro before subsidies were axed, but because the grid access is so limited in remote areas, there’s been a constraint on the amount of hydro energy they could supply to the National Grid. Now, that extra energy is being directed into local heating instead and the financial benefits are being ploughed back into the Mull community.

Trust hardy, crafty Scots communities to find a way to get some progress amidst the crazy non-renewable world cooked up by Tories at Westminster. But if there is no hint of a special island deal for onshore wind on Scottish islands, no subsidy for pump storage and other storage schemes and no news about island interconnectors in the autumn statement, we can conclude the worst. Scotland will have a very hard time meeting its 2020 energy goals. Through no fault of our own.