Sunday, 20 December 2009

It's our oil - a new Scotland

Once more I watched that fantastic BBC programme A History of Scotland, presented by the wonderful Neil Oliver.

Last night's episode was on Scotland 1920 - 2000, and was on Scotland's economic decline under various Westminster Governments, mass emigration to foreign lands to seek a better life and industry. It is an embarrassment that few Scots will know anything about these things (myself included). However, last night's episode was an extremely fair, but political, hour.

Towards the end it focussed on "Scotland's oil" and how the benefits it could offer increased the pro-independence/Home Rule feelings throughout the country.

I apologise for sounding like an SNP blogger, but having watched it...we got screwed. I now understand Salmond's ramblings about Norway, about what we could have achieved and could still achieve if we owned our own oil. To become independent on the basis of North Sea oil supporting us is, however, no longer realistic. There isn't enough left, we've missed out on the chance to use it while it lasted to invest in our country and will run out before the full effects would be realised. However, I strongly believe that we can have our own new oil in renewables.

Yes, yes, it's been said before, "we can be at the forefront of renewables technology, leading the way and reap the economic benefits blah blah blah". My suggestion is more focussed.

You may have read the story about the proposed Nigg wind farm being delayed. You may have also read the story about the Vestas plant on the Isle of Wight closing due to planning delays and no support from Government.

Planning delays are the biggest hinderance to any real progress and development (and therefore economic benefit) from the renewables sector. The UK has lost Vestas with jobs lost, and if we are not careful, KBR will decide that £100m could be put to better use elsewhere. We need to give them the signal that says, "No it wouldn't".

First of all, we need a faster, more efficient and more pro-renewables panel to decide the planning process. Aesthetics are, I'm afraid, not a valid argument against a wind farm. We need companies who want to invest in our country, bringing jobs to the remote communities to feel like they can do business here. We also need to make it more appealling and we would do that by lowering taxes for renewables firms. I don't know enough about taxation and I know (before anyone points out) that we currently don't really have the power to do it at the moment anyway, but renewables firms should be encouraged to come here as they would only have to pay minimal taxes, a couple of % each year, maximum. The more they invest, over the years, the better off as a country we would be.

Vestas wanted to make wind turbines, but were given no assistance. KBR wants to build an offshore windfarm and are currently reviewing this as a high-risk project as well as facing delay after delay. We need to do all we can, both for Scotland and the environment. Scots were denied a real voice at the Copenhagen table (and a real voice over our oil). But Copenhagen was never going to fix the problem. To do the right thing, to better Scotland, to be as green as we should and to right the wrongs of our oil, Independence may well be the answer to this sceptic as A History of Scotland has shown that Westminster rarely best serves our cold little country.


scunnert said...

Still years of oil extraction left in the North Sea and potential new reserves on the Atlantic coast. But whatever resources Scotland has it requires independence to benefit from them. Otherwise it all heads south.

Political Dissuasion said...

That's what this programme made me think... more than any other argument ever made in favour of independence.

There are indeed years of oil left, but in comparison to what there was, the money Scotland could have made (£xbillion goes a lot further shared between 5m people, rather than 60m) and although what is left is not exactly a pittance, it's not enough to build a country on, long term.

I'm not a pro-independence person, but if we take the petty crap out of the debate, the history and the opportunity, I can see the benefits, in spite of the obvious pitfalls. The programme has certainly opened my eyes a bit to the FACTS of it all and Labour scare stories (combined with some of SNPs romantic notions) obscure from the real debate.

sm753 said...

"We got screwed."


The *facts* about the production and revenue forecasts were on the Parliamentary record from 1973 and 1975, respectively.

The parties' 1974 manifestos made full reference to oil and oil revenues.

There was *no* "cover-up", nor any "lies".

[I will be doing a further blog post meself on this. Sometime. I haven't actually watched the Oliver prog - if it has ended up repeating the BBC Alba "Diomhair" lies, I will need to do something about it.]

As for renewables being a "new oil", I'm afraid not. Do the math.

All these windy / wavy things *may* be worth having, but there is no way they will replace oil, in terms of physical energy or tax revenue.

Political Dissuasion said...


To start with, I don't want to ruin the show for you, but the programme doesn't mention "diomhair" (which I'd never heard of before). When I say we got screwed, I mean that I believe that if the oil is found in Scotland it should, predominantly benefit Scots as it's our oil, but it didn't (well, not as much as I believe fair).

"you do the math". If you have a spare few hours, you could traipse back through my posts and realise that I neither will or have the ability to do the math.

I do get the point you are trying to make includin gthat link, but that link itself is a weak argument.

Bottom line for me? I love windfarms. Carpetbomb our country with them.

sm753 said...

"I mean that I believe that if the oil is found in Scotland it should, predominantly benefit Scots as it's our oil, but it didn't (well, not as much as I believe fair)."

Oh yes it did, and it continues to do so.

Now, you may (as I do) wish that all that cash had gone to more useful ends than paying the welfare bills of West Central Scotland and Dundee, but it didn't happen.

Thinking about it, for there to have been a significant Scottish annual surplus allowint the accumulation of an "oil fund" would probably have required Scottish "independence" to have happened somewhere in the 1930s, so as to avoid the accumulation of the WW2 debt.

This then leads on to all sorts of uncertainty about whether "independent" Scotland could have avoided Nazi or Soviet occupation.


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