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.