CHANGES to the UK Government’s renewal energy policy have created uncertainty that could threaten the industry’s future prospects, according to MPs.

A Scottish Affairs Committee report highlighted the “great successes” that have been achieved in expanding renewable energy capacity, with production from sources such as wind, hydro and biomass attracting significant investment.

Up to 21,000 people are employed in the sector, which produces almost 30 per cent of the UK’s renewable electricity.

However, the committee was concerned that changes to renewable technology subsidies and uncertainty about future support have affected investors’ confidence. In particular, they said the removal of subsidy for onshore wind without consultation with the industry or the Scottish Government was especially troubling.

MPs said the lack of clarity about renewables policy has exacerbated long-standing concerns in Scotland surrounding transmission costs, and that renewable plants – most often located in rural areas or on Scottish islands – faced inadequate grid connections and high transmission charges to reach the urban areas where electricity was most needed.

The committee called on Ofgem to look into levelling connection costs across the UK, and called on the UK Government take action to support the improvement of infrastructure between the Scottish islands and the mainland.

Committee chairman Pete Wishart said: “This report considers several policy changes the UK Government has made to support for renewables – early closure of the Renewables Obligation for solar and onshore wind, cutting support through feed-in-tariffs, and delaying the next round of Contracts for Difference – which we found have weakened investor confidence in the renewable sector, and put at risk opportunities for future growth.

“We have urged the government to clarify the future support which will be available to the renewable sector, and set out how they will work with the Scottish Government to develop a clear, long-term plan that will allow renewable energy to remain a central part of the energy mix.

“Our report was produced before recent changes to the structure of government – the abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, with its responsibilities moving to a new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – but this change indicates a troubling shift in the government’s priorities.

“I hope that the Government’s response to our report will go some way to allaying these fears.”

Fabrice Leveque, WWF Scotland’s climate and energy policy officer, said: “Despite the uncertainty created by Westminster decisions, the Scottish Government can continue to drive progress by setting a new goal to generate 50 per cent of all our energy needs, across electricity, heat and transport, from renewables by 2030.

“The Scottish Parliament has many of the powers it needs when it comes to heat and transport. Bringing forward new policies in these areas could not only ensure Scotland is part of the global energy transition, but help tackle fuel poverty, improve air quality and reduce the bills on our NHS.”