Outdated data

SNP admits recycling false claim over wind power

Wind is a big player in Scotland, but not as big as the SNP claims

An SNP claim that Scotland has a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind power has proved to be false and government officials have known for at least two years that it was never ‘property sourced’.

Senior SNP figures, including Westminster leader Ian Blackford and Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson have repeated the claim, as have Energy spokesperson Stephen Flynn and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes who included it in her National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond included the claim in his speech at the 2012 SNP Party Conference, and it featured in the independence white paper Scotland’s Future.

However, a new report from the pro-union think-tank, These Islands, has challenged the figure, saying it is nearer 4-6%, and ministers have now admitted the 25% figure is false and “requires updating”.

Internal Government correspondence published in the These Islands report reveals that officials knew in October 2020 that the figure had “proved very difficult to source”. One official states that the 25% estimate has “never, to my knowledge, been properly sourced”. In January last year, one that “we did recycle those figures quite robotically without really checking them”

The These Islands states: “Scotland has substantial renewable energy resources, and that’s a very good thing. But hugely exaggerating the size of the potential resource for political purposes is not a good thing.” 

“An obviously inflated claim has been allowed to appear in multiple official Scottish Government publications over the last decade, and only difficult questions asked via Freedom of Information have put a stop to that.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The statistic relating to Scotland having 25% of Europe’s offshore wind potential was set out in a 2010 publication and was calculated accurately at the time.

“We recognise that changes in technology and use of marine space mean that this statistic now requires updating and will be undertaking work to update the figure. However, we are confident that Scotland remains at the forefront of the developing offshore wind industry in Europe.”

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