MORE than 2000 green jobs could have been created in Scotland through onshore wind farms but the UK Government prioritised nuclear power instead, a report has said.

The Green Alliance, an independent think tank, said that if the UK Government had focused its energy strategy on wind and renewables then over half of the jobs needed to support the industry would be created north of the Border.

The SNP criticised the UK Government’s energy strategy and argued that it should be “more ambitious and accelerated”, adding that the policy is holding Scotland back.

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The UK Government has been pushing nuclear power in recent years, while the Scottish Government has committed to opposing any new nuclear power stations in Scotland.

The National recently told how the Scottish Government rejected energy minister Greg Hand’s plea to rethink their stance on the issue.

Additionally, onshore windfarms are banned in England and have been since David Cameron was prime minister, with the limits on turbines extended in the most recent energy strategy in 2022. 

And now, a new report has found that had the UK Government pushed for more onshore wind – most of the benefits would have been felt in Scotland.

Under the section on onshore wind, the report states: “The [UK Government] strategy has no target for onshore wind, and so there are no associated jobs numbers.

The National: Onshore windfarms could have created 2500 green scottish jobsOnshore windfarms could have created 2500 green scottish jobs

“Although onshore wind will be included in future rounds of contracts for difference (the government’s scheme for procuring sources of low carbon power at fixed prices) it was deprioritised in favour of nuclear.

“This would require 25-35GW of onshore wind capacity, which would make it the third most significant power source, after offshore wind and solar.

“The UK will need around 4300 additional highly skilled workers to operate and maintain onshore capacity to meet targets under this pathway, but over 2500 of these will be concentrated in Scotland.”

The report added that if the regional concentration of onshore wind follows current infrastructure distribution across the UK – then nearly 60% of “future operation and maintenance jobs would be in Scotland”.

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An additional 1000 jobs would be supported in Northern Ireland, Wales, Yorkshire and the Humber, the report said.

SNP energy spokesperson Alan Brown said: “This report makes clear that if the UK government’s energy strategy was more ambitious in terms of renewables and accelerated, it could produce an additional 2500 green jobs in Scotland.

“This is another example of the UK Government holding Scotland, our climate change ambitions, and the people who live here, back.

“Just this week we’ve seen the effects of the climate crisis on the UK and it has made it crystal clear that Scotland cannot afford to be held back by Westminster. Only independence will allow us to reach our climate targets and play our part in tackling the global crisis.

The National: Brown said the UK's strategy needs to be more ambitiousBrown said the UK's strategy needs to be more ambitious

“Offshore wind is rapidly becoming one of the cheapest forms of electricity and Scotland has some of the most extensive renewable generation capabilities in Europe with which to accelerate our just transition to net zero.

“The UK’s Energy Security Strategy was an ideal opportunity for the UK Government to combat the dual climate and cost of living crisis – they failed on both fronts.

“The High Court also ruled that the UK Government had failed to meet its obligations under the Climate Change Act.

“Their decision to include expensive nuclear energy in the strategy demonstrates that they value ideology above practicality, and the fact they have sidelined Scotland twice now when it comes to carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) – which is integral to a Just Transition – shows Scotland will never be a priority for the Westminster government.”

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Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak was accused earlier this week of “economic illiteracy” and lack of seriousness over the climate crisis after he claimed he has a plan for energy independence for the UK, but ruled out any further onshore wind projects.

His campaign team said on Wednesday: “In recognition of the distress and disruption that onshore wind farms can often cause, Rishi has also promised to scrap plans to relax the ban on onshore wind farms in England, providing certainty to rural communities.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK Government has increased the amount of renewable energy capacity connected to the grid by 500% since 2010 – more than any other government in British history. Going further, earlier this month, the UK Government secured an additional 11GW of clean, affordable, home-grown power through our flagship renewable auction scheme.

“We have clear strategies in place that will support up to 190,000 jobs in the middle of the 2020s and around 480,000 in 2030, including thousands of jobs across Scotland.”