Smith Hails New EU Cash For Key Scottish Projects

30 January 2009
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today expressed his delight with the EU's proposal son an economic recovery plan in the fields of energy and internet broadband infrastructure.

The EU will provide 3.5 billion Euros in 2009 and 2010 for key projects in the sectors of electricity and gas interconnections, offshore wind, and carbon capture and storage. These funds will be topped up by loans from the European Investment Bank.

Scotland stands to benefit significantly from this investment. 150m Euros will be invested in a North Sea offshore wind super grid; 40m Euros will be granted to the Aberdeen offshore wind farm (to generate an extra 100 MW of energy); and Longannet power plant will be included in the short list of coal-fired plants under consideration to receive 250m Euros of investment in Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) technology. 1 billion Euros will also be made available across Europe to expand access to broadband technology.

Speaking from Edinburgh, Smith said:

"I'm delighted that the EU is taking strong measures to combat the economic downturn - making new money available for important infrastructure projects which should create jobs and pave the way for future economic growth. I'm glad that the Commission have seen enough sense to ditch, at least for the moment, the ridiculous Growth and Stability Pact: the obsession with balanced budgets and deep suspicion of deficit spending goes against basic economic common sense during a downturn, and therefore it's important that expansionary policies can be put in place. Contrast this bold ambition with the miserly Westminster government, which still sits on ÂŁ1billion of Scotland's money, and which needs to be put out to work.

"This new investment enables us to kill two birds with one stone: not only do we reflate our economy, but we can also build the infrastructure we need for our 21st century priorities: a high technology, highly skilled economy, and a cohesive, low carbon society which fights climate change.

"I'm particularly pleased by the opportunity to develop our offshore marine energy resources, in tandem with the Scottish Government's own efforts through our Marine Research Centre in Orkney. Scotland has 25% of Europe's wind and tidal power, so we should exploit this to the full. I'll also be pushing for Longannet to receive European CCS funding: with ample storage opportunities available for storage in the North Sea, Longannet is ideally placed to be a leader in this emerging field.

"The rural broadband funding is most welcome: Scotland's small businesses and public services rely on quick and reliable internet access, and hopefully this new money can help us outdistance the UK government's rather meagre target for broadband coverage."