Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The North's contribution to the national picture

At long last, we are seeing measures that will support the clean energy developments in the far north. The development of the Pentland Firth as an area for co-ordinated action on clean energy can go ahead. The National Planning Framework points to the importance of that development in relation to our efforts to reduce emissions and tackle climate change. If we do not go ahead with that development, in the medium to longer term, we will have bigger problems than we think.

Photo: Rob with SeaEnergy Renewables group in the Parliament - A group whose vision statement is to be the world’s pre-eminent marine renewable energy company, developing, owning and operating large-scale offshore power generation assets globally.

The Scapa Flow transhipment development in Orkney puts the north of Scotland—which was ignored by many transport projects of the past—into the planning framework for Scotland for the first time. That kind of thinking might allow us to be a Parliament for the whole of Scotland, now that we have a Government for the whole of Scotland.

We can see from the approaches that have been taken to upgrading the railways towards Inverness that it has been ignored until now. To suggest that the Halbeath exercise, which is important if we are to link up parts of the central belt with points further north, should be added should not take away from the fact that we need to deliver quickly the time savings that can be made on journeys between, for example, Aberdeen and Inverness and Perth and Inverness.

On the development of the high-speed rail network, the Scottish National Party's manifesto mentioned that positively. Across the debating chamber, we have people who believe that the high-speed rail network should be a priority. However, that is one very good example of the fact that projects come along out of phase with the creation of the national planning framework, as is the rebuild of the Beauly to Denny power line.

On that issue, I point out to people who lobby us from organisations such as Highlands before Pylons that the transmission of electricity from the north of Scotland to the centre and the south relies on land transmission and, eventually, on undersea transmission. We cannot have one without the other, because the process of expanding our clean power development relies on those upgrades. I am delighted that the east-coast upgrades and the one from Dounreay to Beauly are included in the NPF.

We are beginning to get a rational view of what the parts of Scotland that have often been ignored can contribute to the national picture.

No comments: