Scotland's member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) joined party colleagues and NFU Scotland in slamming the UK government over proposed cuts to renewables support across Scotland, but in particular highlighting the impact the cuts will have on farmscale renewables.
Farmscale renewables, whether wind turbines, solar photovoltaic panels, ground source heat pumps, anaerobic digesters or battery storage, have a huge potential to diversify the income stream of farms at a time when farm businesses need all the help they can get. The recent decisions of the UK government will - if carried out - devastate a very promising additional income stream for farms and rural Scotland.
Alyn's move comes as Scotland's National Farmers' Union (NFUS) has highlighted the huge potential damage UK policy will inflict on Scottish and UK farms.
Speaking from Strasbourg, Alyn said:
"The NFU is absolutely right, and coming from the NFU's neutral political position, this criticism is all the more devastating.
"I was a member of the European Parliament's Energy Committee for years alongside the Agriculture Committee, and I cannot even begin to recall how many times I have urged farmers to get into renewables in order to diversify their income, foster energy independence and, indeed, to do farming's bit to save the planet. Farmscale renewables are an easier fit than smaller scale developments, in that farmers have the land, and usually easier access to capital than more complicated community schemes, which of course we also want to see encouraged, but meantime farmscale demand could create a real critical mass in Scotland.
"I remember all the public meetings in the run up to our referendum when the pro-UK lobby blithely assured the audience that renewables were 'rock solid with the UK' and that independence would be a leap into the dark. We ken noo, and all the UK advocates have gone just a bit quiet, presumably too busy enjoying their Lordships, Knighthoods or lucrative consultancy positions.
"However, I hope that the UK policy can change. The SNP has a sizeable group of MPs at Westminster and, after the Paris Climate Change talks, even the UK Prime Minister must surely see the gap between his rhetoric and the effect his policies will actually have on some of Scotland's most vulnerable areas.
"I have today written to the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd MP, urging her to take good note of the NFU statement and to do what she can to reverse this ruinous decision before it is too late. For 11 years I have battled for renewables in the European Parliament, often in the teeth of opposition from the UK. Scotland's renewables potential could be producing real income for Scotland's farms and communities, reindustrialising Scotland, building energy independence and, indeed, helping save the planet. Instead it is being squandered because the UK government remains in charge."