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Ewing calls renewables summit over subsidy crisis

Onshore wind farmsScottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has called an emergency summit of leaders in the renewables industry following the decision to scrap subsidies for onshore wind farms.

Mr Ewing wants to coordinate opinion from those affected by the controversial ending of the Renewables Obligation a year earlier than planned.

He has already invited UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd to Scotland to see for herself the impact that her decision will have, particularly on those with plans in the pipeline.

He also heard concerns from the Inverness Chamber of Commerce and the renewables industry last week about how the loss of the subsidy will hit developers and the supply chain. There have been warnings that up to 3,000 jobs are at risk.

Mr Ewing said: “The Scottish Government strongly disagrees with this decision which was made without our consent and will have such a negative impact on a key sector of the Scottish economy. The proposals have a disproportionate impact on Scotland as around 70% of onshore wind projects in the UK planning system are here.

“There are many communities and companies who have invested significant amounts of money in renewables scheme and have now found the goal posts have been moved, putting crucial investment and jobs at risk. I am keen to listen to their concerns, understand the impact and continue to work together in making representations to the UK Government.

“UK ministers also urgently need to clarify the position regarding onshore wind projects already in the pipeline, and how many of them can expect to continue to receive investment during the grace period before funding is cut off.”

Almost half of Scotland’s electricity production came from renewables last year with wind delivering record amounts of power in the first three months of 2015.

Scotland accounts for around a third of total UK renewables generation.

“This makes the recent decision by the UK Government to end the RO next year even more regrettable,” he said.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to the renewable sector and to achieving our target of 100% of our electricity demand through renewables by 2020 and the onshore wind sector is a significant part of that.”

Niall Stuart, chief executive of industry lobby group Scottish Renewables, said: “The recent announcement to close the Renewables Obligation to onshore wind has caused a huge amount of disquiet within the industry, and threatens significant levels of investment, employment and renewable power generation.

“This is a key issue for everyone with an interest in renewable energy development in Scotland and the summit will be an important opportunity for our members to put over their questions, comments and concerns to the Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism as we seek to find a way to ensure the sustainable growth of our onshore wind industry.”

The Summit will take place in Glasgow next month.

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