Food Prices Increase In Scotland

Supermarkets set their own prices – with plenty of science behind the whole process such as tracking wholesale costs, competitor’s pricing and lots of other variables.

Currently, many major supermarket prices are no different in Scotland than they are in shops in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

This is despite the fact that they face higher distribution costs in Scotland, as well as a public health levy on selling alcohol and tobacco (which is due to end in 2015).


Why might food prices change?

Food prices

Those higher distribution costs in Scotland are currently absorbed into the supermarket’s UK margins.

But if they decided to treat Scotland as an international market they could then forego the “national pricing” policy (there are minor differences in certain areas) they currently have.

On the other hand, Tesco say they source a lot of local Scottish ingredients. For example, they promised all fresh beef in its Scottish shops will be Scotch beef. So it is also likely that fresh products might get cheaper – as is the case in Ireland.

Another potential reason for increasing prices would be if the regulatory and tax burdens increased.

The chief executive of supermarket chain Morrisons, Dalton Philips, told the Financial Times: “If the regulatory environment was to increase the burden of the cost structure on business, that would potentially have to be passed through to consumer pricing, because why should the English and Welsh consumer subsidise this increased cost of doing business in Scotland?”

It’s not that Scottish regulations would be more burdensome, it’s more the fact that having two different lots of regulations makes it more expensive for companies to comply.

Although the Scottish government suggests their plan to reduce corporation tax would balance out any increased cost for supermarkets doing business in Scotland.

Supermarkets are often involved in price wars, where they cut prices to remain competitive with rivals. If one supermarket group was to increase prices in Scotland, another would most likely capitalise on that by announcing a price freeze in Scotland.

However, it could happen gradually over time as people got used to the fact that Scotland was an independent country.

But Nicola Sturgeon said this was a “scare story” and it was “insulting people’s intelligence”.

What else have supermarkets been saying about this?

Tesco online

The first time this issue really cropped up in the referendum debate was back in December 2013.

At the time, Asda’s chief executive Andy Clarke said: “At Asda, we believe in fairness so the price customers pay for a pint of milk or loaf of bread is the same regardless of where they live in the UK.”

Although he also said that a “Yes” vote in 2014 could result in Scotland being a less attractive investment proposition for business and put further pressure on our costs”.

Despite that, neither Asda nor Morrisons said they had any plans to raise prices in an independent Scotland.

However, Mr Clarke has made another statement this week in which he said: “If we were no longer to operate in one state with one market and – broadly – one set of rules, our business model would inevitably become more complex. We would have to reflect our cost to operate here.

“This is not an argument for or against independence, it is simply an honest recognition of the costs that change could bring. For us the customer is always right and this important decision is in their hands.”

A spokesman for Morrisons, meanwhile, suggested in January that food prices could actually fall in an independent Scotland, saying: “If an independent Scotland increased or decreased regulation or taxes we’d have to take a second look at our pricing. Clearly that could work for or against Scottish customers depending on the direction of travel.”

Recently, a spokesman for Tesco – which is neutral on the referendum – had to make a statement after the pro-union Better Together campaign used their prices in Ireland to suggest that shopping in Scotland could cost 16% more after a “Yes” vote.

They said this suggestion was “entirely speculative” and wrote to a querying customer: “I can confirm that this is not true”, adding that it had “a great business in Scotland” and would “continue to offer the best prices whatever the outcome of the referendum”.


What about other retailers?

Glasgow high street shop

This week, Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership (which also owns Waitrose), told the BBC: “When we are talking about two separate countries it is most probable that retailers will start pricing differently.”

He called this an “economic consequence to a Yes vote”.

Similarly the boss of B&Q, Sir Ian Cheshire, has repeated comments he made back in May about a potential price increase for Scottish shoppers.

He said: “We think there is a real risk in terms of higher costs, the uncertainty about a currency union and the difficulty of making investment decisions.

“Smaller, more complex markets often mean passing higher costs on to consumers.”

However, the chief executive of the pro-independence campaign group Business for Scotland, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp – who has expertise in the retail sector – has suggested prices are more likely to fall in an independent Scotland in the long run.


Does the price of petrol work in the same way?

Filling up on petrol

Again, supermarkets do set their own prices at their petrol stations and could have different prices at different stations across the country.

Currently, the UK average petrol price stands at 129.18p a litre, while the average diesel price is 133.55p a litre.

There are a number of costs involved which make up the final price of a litre of fuel. First, there’s Fuel Duty, which is essentially an added tax before the petrol is sold. There’s then a cost for the petrol itself that goes to the company supplying the crude oil and those who refine it into petrol or diesel. VAT is then added, before the retailers add their charge on top.

In a post-independent Scotland, the Scottish government has suggested in its White Paper that petrol prices could become cheaper in Scotland than England.

It says: “With independence, this Scottish government will examine the benefits of a introducing a Fuel Duty Regulator mechanism to stabilise prices for business and consumers and how this could be made to work alongside our Scottish Energy Fund.”

Banks Move To London

With only a few days left until the independence referendum, Scottish-based financial institutions are falling over themselves to say they will be upping sticks and moving south of the border in the event of a Yes vote.

What are they so worried about?

Broadly, there are five big issues that have prompted the likes of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Clydesdale Bank and Standard Life to say they will move their headquarters if Scotland votes for independence.

Money problems: The question of whether Scotland will keep the pound in the event of independence has been one of the most contentious issues throughout the referendum debate. Alex Salmond has insisted that Scotland will keep the pound; all of the main Westminster parties have ruled it out. On Wednesday Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, said currency union is “incompatible with sovereignty”.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who is proved right; banks are worried that the issues is even up for debate. By moving to London, they remove that uncertainty.

Operating without a safety net: The debate about a currency union is not just about whether Scotland gets to share the pound; it’s also about whether the newly independent country would get to share the Bank of England. The Bank regulates the financial industry and is its “lender of last resort”. This means what it says on the tin: if there is a financial shock, the Bank of England will step in and lend money to the nation’s banks when no one else will. This rarely happens but it did during the 2008 credit crunch.

And it has a day-to-day relevance for the banks. They need to raise money from other banks and the markets. If they are not backed by a lender of last resort, their creditors will charge them more to borrow money. This is what RBS was talking about when it said: “A vote in favour of Scottish independence would be likely to significantly impact the group’s credit ratings.”

A member of the club: As a member of the European Union, the UK’s financial institutions benefit from Europe-wide regulations that make it cheap to sell their products and services to a big customer base. (There are also several rules that they’d prefer not to deal with but, overall, most think being a member of the club is a net benefit.)

An independent Scotland may well end up re-joining the EU. But, again, it is an open question. One issue interlinked with Scotland’s currency conundrum is that countries who apply to join the EU must sign up to joining the euro at some future date and need to have their own central bank. However, the Yes campaign has said it wants to share the pound and the Bank of England.

Richer or Poorer

Robert Peston BBC Economics Editor
Robert Peston

A BBC film presented by Robert Peston BBC Economics editor, gave an account of whether Scotland would be richer or poorer if Scotland were to become an independent country.

Quote from Robert Peston

In September 2014, Scotland’s people face a momentous choice: should they remain part of the United Kingdom, or opt for independence? As the debate hots up, Robert Peston asks the big question which is at the heart of it: would Scotland be richer or poorer as an independent nation?

It is a journey which takes him from oil platforms in the North Sea, to the Shetland folk festival, and the high-tech industries of Dundee. He discovers that although money matters, it isn’t the be all and end all. For many, just as important is what kind of nation Scotland wants to be.

For Richer or Poorer   (This is the original link to the clip which may or may not still be functional)

Interviews were recorded with business leaders and academics who gave both sides of the argument for and against Scottish independence.

The conclusion was that Scotland might be slightly poorer if they were to gain independence from the rest of the UK. This could be offset by Scotland exploring other avenues to increase its earning power.

Other implications of social isolation or being a poor country in the eyes of the world powers needs to be considered. The political power of Scotland would be negligible on the stage of world politics .

First Minister’s New Year message

The First Minister [Alex Salmond] on the 31/12/2012 published his New Year message. Highlighting the restoration of free higher education as an example of how an independent Scotland would make a difference to social security and foreign affairs. [full article]. This post addresses the points made by the First Minister from a non political perspective.

…………. Mr Salmond recalled that one of the Scottish Government’s very first decisions, in 2007, was to restore Scotland’s “centuries-old tradition of free education” as he asked people across the country to consider the position if Scotland had had to follow the same route as the rest of the UK.

Full Educational Control

The Scottish Government has full control over Scotland’s education budget. The UK Government reference has no relevance in this context. The First Minister might as well compared Scotland to France!

Now this contrast between what is happening here and what isn’t happening there has only been made possible because it is the Scottish Parliament which runs Scottish education. But let’s imagine what would happen if we didn’t control education or if, as some people suggest, we imposed English-style tuition fees. Numbers at our universities would collapse.  We would be mortgaging our own country’s future.

Scotland has full control over its education – should we really consider English-style tuition fees, when the Scottish Government has already made its decision. The First Minister should be firm in his decision on education and not bring in the English education system in a derogatory way.

“………………. It is what makes it worthwhile to have our own Parliament and it is why the Scottish Parliament is now trusted by almost four times the number of people who trust Westminster.”

The one type of person you should never trust is anyone that says “Trust me”. A trustworthy person, or in this case a Government would have no need to utter those words. One example is Nick Cleggs promise on tuition fees. He will never be trusted again by young voters. The Scottish Government is a few hundred years younger than Westminster and consequently will be putting out a determined effort to getting it right as with any new organisation.

Master of Criticism

One sure way to gain a distrust is to apply criticism of the efforts of others. The First Minister is a master of criticism of Westminster. Read this article posted on site selected randomly & has no affiliation to the author. To quote out of thin air that four times more people trust the Scottish Government is a general statement that you can here in everyday conversation e.g four times more people trust the police, four times more people trust their next door neighbour.

The First Minister invited Scots to consider how they might vote if the referendum in 2014 was for an independent Scotland to give up its independence and hand over powers in areas like welfare or foreign affairs to the Westminster Parliament in London.  Those arguing for such a move would be pursuing “mission impossible” and would be “laughed at from Gretna Green to Dunnet Head,” Mr Salmond continued.

Why Would Scotland Be Any Better

Welfare and foreign affairs have been administered by Westminster for years. Why would an independent Scotland do any better? That’s a much better question that should be addressed by Mr Salmond. He should be making positive statement such as: As the First Minister of Scotland I have managed to raise enough revenue from the Scottish people to improve our welfare system so that it is one of the finest in the world: As First Minister I have a great team in the Foreign Office of Scotland and I am steering them towards a greatness never achieved before in the history of the world. We will be respected in all foreign lands and hold a key position in world affairs.

The author of this article is neither for nor against Scottish independence. This article merely reflects the First Ministers message from a Scottish voters logical view.






Scotland’s Place in Europe

Alex Salmond ‘misled public’ over EU status claim

“Alex Salmond misled the public that an independent Scotland would automatically inherit UK’s EU membership, it has been alleged.”

The Telegraph 29th October 2012

The rules of membership of the EU are that a new member state has to be ‘voted in’ by the current member states. There is no automatic right of entry and no precedent for such a proposition.The EU Treaty would require alteration to make room for Scotland’s representation and this in turn requires the consent of all Member States.

Certain conditions have to be met and Scotland could meet those conditions, but it could take up to 10 years before acceptance is complete.

The UK membership of the EU includes Scotland, but Scotland is not recognised in it’s own right within the EU [ I assume that’s why Scotland is planning a referendum ]. This means a new application would have to be made by the Scottish Government unless a new rule is created.

Political effects of an independent Scotland

The politics may or may not work in Scotland’s favour. Accession to the EU requires unanimity. Germany, France, Italy and Spain are the big players of Europe and would be anxious to avoid separating their states. Some commentators cannot imagine that they would watch Scottish independence without any form of resistance. According to Professor Clive Archer from the University Association for Contemporary European Studies, such idleness would

“defy both logical and politics”.

The implication is that Catalonia, Lombardy, Corsica, Brittany, Flemish Belgium and even Bavaria would be casting a keen eye on Scotland, acutely observing the follow-on improvements and drawbacks that are significant not least for their own regions.

Alyn Smith (Greens/EFA) and Derek Clark (EFD) want to reclaim the sovereignty of their country, but in different ways. Would independence affect jobs and influence?

Terms of Admission

If Scotland found itself outside the European Union after independence and had to negotiate its re-admittance, on what terms it might be re-admitted?

Scotland would probably lose its share of the budget rebate. In 1984, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher negotiated a special discount on a budget contribution worth £2bn per year and the UK has held onto that ever since. In July 2000, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told business leaders in Edinburgh that he did

“not for one moment believe that other countries of the European Union would allow [an independent] Scotland to retain the budget rebate from which taxpayers in Scotland benefit”.

At the Berlin summit in March 1999 the Labour government refused to negotiate the rebate even though the planned changes in contributions would have given the United Kingdom a respectful amount of money.

European Structural Funds

  • Areas in the EU with lower than average income are eligible for EU aid, which is known as “Structural Funds”
  • Along with local and regional governments, the EU co-funds development projects, such as community learning centres
  • Regional aid aims to increase employment and raise the standard of living

The SNP has claimed that Scotland does not receive the amount of EU funds from the UK Government which is due.

Map of UK assisted areas 2007-2013

Guidelines Regional Structural Funding

The question is would Scotland be better off as an independent country when in receipt of the Structural Funds other than those allocated by the United Kingdom Government.

The European Committee of the Scottish Parliament considered this fact in 2000.

The European Committee Report PDF version

The Structural Funds are a cornerstone of EU support for those areas suffering from high unemployment figures and undergoing regeneration. The Structural Funds are made up of four separate parts.

  • the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
  • the European Social Fund (ESF)
  • the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF)
  • the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG)

Scotland has been in receipt of EU funding since the Structural Funds were set up in 1975. Until 1988 no specific funds were set aside for Scotland. The European Commission approved individual projects on a case-by-case basis.

Getting to the point

The European Committee of the Scottish Parliament concluded that the allocation process by the UK is “relatively transparent and objective”, and that (as far as it can tell) Scotland receives “an appropriate share of the Structural Funds allocated to the UK by the EU”.

“In autumn 2011, the Committee agreed to conduct an inquiry into the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the current EU structural fund programmes (2007 – 2013), with a view to understanding how to improve outcomes for Scotland in the 2014 – 2020 funding round.

EU Structural Funds are a series of financial tools set up with the explicit purpose of reducing regional disparities across the EU in terms of income, wealth and opportunity.”

The Scottish Parliament

The process of negotiation is unlikely to be easy. Evidence from other candidate countries suggests that the EU uses its pre-accession bargaining strength to extract the maximum concessions from acceding parties.

‘Join the queue’ for EU membership, Spain tells Alex Salmond

Further blow for Scottish independence camp as Spanish foreign minister says new nation would not be automatic EU member.

Here is the view from Spain reported in The Guardian 24th October 2012

Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond has been accused by opposition parties of misleading Scots over legal advice about EU membership. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Alex Salmond’s chaotic attempts to persuade voters he could take an independent Scotland smoothly into the European Union have suffered another setback, after Spain said Scotland would need to “join the queue” and negotiate as a new member state.

Foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo told the Spanish senate on Tuesday that an independent Scotland would have to go through a potentially long negotiating process and win the support of all 27 members, including Spain – directly contradicting Salmond’s position on EU membership.

“In the hypothetical case of independence, Scotland would have to join the queue and ask to be admitted, needing the unanimous approval of all member states to obtain the status of a candidate country … and to sign the final treaty [of accession],” García-Margallo said.

Intensifying the pressure on Salmond, the Spanish foreign minister said Scotland would also need member states to scrutinise its legislation before approving the 35 separate chapters that have to be negotiated before a new member is admitted.

In September, the European commission president, José Manuel Barroso, also suggested that an independent Scotland would be seen as a new state, and would need to apply to join.

García-Margallo did not say whether Spain might block Scottish EU membership, but his right wing People’s party government is currently fighting a battle to prevent Catalonia, a wealthy region with significant levels of autonomy, from calling its own independence referendum. Last weekend, Basque nationalist and separatist parties won two-thirds of the seats in its regional assembly, intensifying pressure on Madrid to cede more powers. It now appears the Spanish government’s dispute with its own independence movements has led to a hardening stance on Scotland.

García-Margallo’s intervention is another significant setback to Salmond, who has endured bruising allegations from opponents and the Scottish press over whether he had lied about receiving formal legal advice from government law officers on EU membership.

Until now, Salmond and his ministers have regarded García-Margallo as a significant ally in their efforts to show that an independent Scotland would be able to freely and smoothly inherit EU membership. They have frequently cited his remarks in January this year, when García-Margallo indicated Spain was neutral about Scotland’s future membership.

At the time, García-Margallo said it was “an internal subject which will be resolved within the British constitutional framework, which has nothing to do with the Spanish constitutional framework … they are completely different processes”.

Salmond’s difficulties escalated dramatically on Tuesday when it emerged his government had never asked for or received any advice from its law officers on whether an independent Scotland would automatically join the EU, after months of hints and apparent confirmation that such advice had been given.

His deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, shocked opposition parties by disclosing the advice had only just been requested, after the Edinburgh agreement setting up the independence referendum was signed by Salmond and David Cameron last week.

The Scottish government has also gone to Scotland’s highest civil court seeking to overturn an order from the Scottish information commissioner, Rosemary Agnew, that it should disclose that advice. That legal challenge – due to be heard in December – has now been dropped.

Salmond angrily denied on Tuesday that he had lied in an interview with Andrew Neil on BBC1 earlier this year, when he appeared to confirm his law officers had supported his case that an independent Scotland would join the EU automatically, would not need to join the euro and would inherit the UK’s opt-outs on border security, immigration and financial treaty requirements. Salmond insisted he had been speaking in general terms in his BBC interview.

After headlines and leader columns accused Salmond bluntly of “lying”, the pressure intensified on Wednesday when the Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, asked for Scotland’s chief law officer – the lord advocate, Frank Mulholland – to appear before the Scottish parliament.

During prime minister’s questions in the Commons on Wednesday, Cameron said the situation was “truly baffling” and raised substantial questions about Salmond’s assurances on the impact of independence.

“It turns out now they didn’t have any legal advice at all and I think what this shows is when you shine the spotlight on the case for separation the SNP put, it completely falls apart,” Cameron said.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said García-Margallo’s latest remarks had been “overtaken by events” because there was now a deal between the governments to set up the independence referendum. That document, however, makes no mention of EU membership. “As Mr García-Margallo himself said earlier this year, this is an internal matter to be resolved within the UK – and we now have that clear agreement on the process,” she said.

She implied the Spanish foreign minister’s latest remarks were wrong: “Scotland will inherit exactly the same international treaty rights and obligations as the rest of the UK, as equal successor states.

“Scotland has been an integral part of the European Union for almost four decades, so an independent Scotland will continue in EU membership – and by definition Scotland already meets the criteria for EU membership, as acknowledged recently by an expert report.”



High-speed rail plan for Glasgow to Edinburgh line

High speed rail plan for Scotland
High speed rail plan for Scotland

There is no firm timetable for a high-speed link from London to Scotland

Plans for a high-speed rail link between Glasgow and Edinburgh, cutting journey times to less than 30 minutes, are being taken forward by ministers.

The Scottish government aims to deliver the scheme by 2024 – at least 10 years before any high-speed link from England may be extended north of the border.

If successful, it would see 140mph trains linking Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Talks will now take place between transport officials, the rail industry and potential partners in both cities.

Plans have already been announced at Westminster to have the high-speed project, known as HS2, running between England’s major cities.

‘Firing ahead’

Phase one of the £33bn link, between London and Birmingham, is due to start operating in 2026.

The UK government has previously said this would be followed by a second phase route reaching Manchester and Leeds by about 2033.

“Start Quote

The Scottish government will now enter into talks with our partners in both cities and the rail industry”

Nicola Sturgeon Deputy First Minister

As yet, there has been no dated or written commitment to extend the scheme to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government would “not wait” for Westminster to deliver HS2 north of the border and would be “firing ahead” with its own plans.

She said that a survey last year, carried out by the Scottish Partnership Group for High Speed Rail, had shown “a huge level of support” for HS2 in Scotland.

The findings, published in the Fast Track Scotland (FTS) document, claimed an HS2 link to London could benefit Scotland by up to £25bn.

Business benefits

After the document was published, Transport Scotland, on behalf of the FTS group, looked at how quickly HS2 could be delivered.

Ms Sturgeon said its findings demonstrated that Scotland could introduce HS2 way ahead of any Westminster timetable.

“We now know that within just 12 years, we could build a line which will see journey times between our two major cities cut to less than half an hour,” she said.

“That will benefit our businesses, our jobs market and also our tourism industry, and it will put us up there with the world’s greatest transport networks.

“The Scottish government will now enter into talks with our partners in both cities and the rail industry to see how we can work together to see this vision realised – a Glasgow-Edinburgh high speed line which can connect to the network from England.”

British network’

A spokesman for the UK Department for Transport said HS2 was “a vital project” that would “transform the entire country”.

He said: “This is a truly British network that will serve far more than the cities directly on the line – seamless transition of trains on to the East Coast and West Coast main lines is expected to slash the journey time between Edinburgh and Glasgow to London by up to an hour without the need to change trains.”

The spokesman said the government would publish its preferred route for the second phase before the end of the year.

He added: “Additionally, the secretary of state announced last month that he has asked officials to work with the Scottish government to explore how best to boost capacity and cut journey times further so that Scotland can be fully brought into our vision for a high speed Britain.”


Article BBC news 12th November 2012

Windfarm Obsession

The Scottish Government was criticised yesterday after it emerged it has approved 83% of all major onshore windfarm applications submitted in the last 5 years.

Official figures showed SNP ministers have given the go-ahead to 29 of 35 developments, many of them in the north and north-east, since taking power in 2007.

Conservative chief whip John Lamont claimed the figures sent out a message to big developers – “come straight to us and you have an 80% chance of success.

Helen McDade, head of policy at conservation charity John Muir Trust, said there was a “high risk of the planning system falling into disrepute, particularly given that the government had the power to overrule public inquiry decisions.

The governments target of generating 100% of electricity from renewables by 2020 seems unstoppable, claiming that tourists are largely indifferent to sensitively sited turbines.

Ms McDade said: “We are concerned that developments that clearly impact on environmental qualities have been given permission when it seems clear if there are very good planning policies that should not happen.

“Local people do not have any confidence in the system, particularly if you can win at a public inquiry then still be overruled by the government.

“The planning system is at high risk of falling into disrepute.”

Moray Council planning convener Douglas Ross said “The figures regarding wind turbines get more and more alarming and it is amazing there should be such a high percentage of Section 36 approved by the government. [quick reference section 36 ]

“I also have a concern that local authorities will stop objecting to Section 36 applications as these automatically trigger a local inquiry which councils have to foot the bill for.

“I worry that councils will decide it’s not worth objecting as they could spend a lot of money when the outcome is almost a fait accompli,” added Councillor Ross.


Windfarm Footprint Map

Windfarm Footprint map August 2012 Map PDF

 How to build a windfarm
Windfarm construction


Electricity Act cases

Electricity sub station
Electricity sub station

Applications to construct or extend an electricity generating station (including an onshore wind farm) with a capacity of more than 50 megawatts are made to the Scottish Ministers under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. Scottish Ministers also deal with applications to construct overhead electric power lines (section 37) and, where these cannot be agreed, applications for any necessary wayleaves over land for the purpose of constructing or maintaining access to the power lines.

Public notification is given of any applications made to Scottish Ministers under section 36 and 37 and planning authorities, other statutory bodies and members of the public have the opportunity to object to the proposal. If objections are not resolved Scottish Ministers may, and in certain circumstances must, hold an inquiry in which case a DPEA reporter will be appointed. The reporter will submit a report to Scottish Ministers recommending whether or not consent should be granted. Ministers will decide whether consent should be granted, whether any consent given should be subject to conditions and whether deemed planning permission should be granted for the proposal.

A code of practice sets out the procedure that we will apply to inquiries under section 36 and 37.  Further information can be found in energy consents webpage.

Energy Consents



In Scotland, applications to build and operate power stations and to install overhead power lines are made to the Scottish Ministers for consent. Applications are considered by Scottish Ministers where they are:

  • for electricity generating stations in excess of 50 megawatts (MW)
  • for overhead power lines and associated infrastructure, as well as large gas and oil pipelines

Such applications cover new developments as well as modifications to existing developments. Applications below these thresholds are made to the relevant local planning authority. Applications for marine energy (e.g. wave, tidal and offshore wind) are made to Marine Scotland.


Longest-serving first minister Salmond

Longest-serving first minister Salmond will not ‘go on and on’

Alex Salmond: “I wake up every morning and look forward to the day ahead.”

SNP leader Alex Salmond said he was proud to be Scotland’s longest-serving first minister but he had no intention of going “on and on” in the post.

In interviews with the BBC, the politician added he had no immediate plans to “depart the scene” with the independence referendum due in 2014.

Mr Salmond is Scotland’s fourth first minister and to date the only non-Labour politician to take the post.

Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell went before him.

Mr Salmond conceded that his darkest days were around the time of the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

He said his political high point was his election victory in May 2011 when he delivered a historic majority of MSPs to Holyrood.

Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland’s Raymond Buchanan: “I wake up every morning and look forward to the day ahead.”

Continue reading the main story

Previous first ministers

Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell

1. Donald Dewar: First minister from 13 May 1999 to 11 October 2000

2. Henry McLeish: First minister from 26 October 2000 to 8 November 2001

3. Jack McConnell: First minister from 22 November 2001 to 16 May 2007

He insisted he would not go “on and on”, but added: “I want to see Scotland win the referendum, I want to see the opening of the door of opportunity in that referendum and I have no immediate plans to depart the scene.”

In an earlier interview with BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Salmond said he was proud of his achievements during his 2002 days in the post.

He told presenter Hayley Millar: “I think the most substantial thing that I am proud of, and the administration should be, is the establishment of a social contract between the Scottish government and the people of Scotland in extraordinarily tough times.

“In these difficult times we have managed to both preserve and indeed extend social objectives like the removal of tuition fees, the protection of free care for the elderly, the importance of having a national health service which is free at the point of need to everyone.

“These are big social protections and advances and that is what I would describe as a social contract between the government and the people.”

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

It was Margaret Thatcher who said in a BBC interview in 1987, after winning her third election victory, that she intended to go “on and on”. Her colleagues duly precluded that option by preventing her from contesting a fourth election.”

image of Brian Taylor Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

Following devolution and the first elections to the new Scottish Parliament, Labour grandee Mr Dewar became the first minister on 13 May 1999.

He held the post until his death in October 2000.

Mr McLeish was Scotland’s next first minister, taking on the role from 26 October, 2000, to 8 November, 2001.

By the end of November that year Mr McConnell was in the hot seat. He lasted until May 2007 when the SNP, under the leadership of Mr Salmond, won minority government.

On Wednesday, 7 November, Mr Salmond overtook Mr McConnell’s time in the post.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon congratulated the SNP leader on reaching the political milestone.

She said: “The people of Scotland overwhelmingly trust the Scottish government headed by Alex Salmond – 71% trust the Scottish government to act in Scotland’s interests, up from 51% under the previous Lab/Lib Executive in 2006, and compared to just 18% who trust the UK government.

“In 2011, people in Scotland gave a remarkable vote of confidence in Alex Salmond’s leadership and the team, record and vision of the SNP – delivering an overall majority at Holyrood, and becoming the only first minister to win two elections.

“It is this record of success that will help win a yes vote in the referendum for an independent Scotland in autumn 2014.

BBC comments

That would be why Glasgow has some of the worst rates of poverty and lowest life expectancies in Western Europe, then?

 Comment from BBC commenter 1

Euro shows some of the issues with a shared currency between Countries with radically different economies.
Why wouldn’t a Scottish Pound or whatever work?

Scotlands economic strength is closer to S.E. England strength than any other part of the UK (by verified stats) & nowhwere near as disperate as Greece to Germany but it would still be better to have a seperate currency

Comment from BBC commenter 2

In your heart, do you really believe that Scots are getting a materially worse deal other UK citizens? The figures suggest the reverse. There’s ranting about the Poll Tax and other events but the grudge rarely survives close examination and is left hanging as an inarticulate resentment.

Replacing the bogeymen in Westminster with the “smugertariatte” of Holyrood will change nothing.Comment from BBC commenter 3

United World Independent Scotland

United Scotland

The Scottish Government is currently administered by the Scottish National Party which was created in 1934 by the amalgamation of the Scottish Party and the National Party of Scotland.
The case for Scottish home rule goes right back to its unification with England in 1707. The view that the Scots who put their names to the Act of Union had been bribed, famously spurred Robert Burns to write:

“We are bought and sold for English gold.
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.”

Robert Burns 1759 - 1796
Robert Burns 1759 – 1796

But for years the SNP struggled to make an impact, partly due to the on-going debate between those who wanted to concentrate on independence – the fundamentalists – and those who wanted to achieve it through policies such as devolution – the gradualist’s.
In its first test, the 1935 General Election, the SNP contested eight seats and won none. You can read more of the SNP’s history here

Seventy Eight Years Later

Seventy eight years later the SNP government in Scotland is still trying to gain independence from the rest of the UK. In those 78 years the world has changed a great deal from the way we communicate to our attitudes toward each other and our wanting to be a united world in peace and understanding. Way back in 1934 those thoughts were only dreamed of by a few people with a vision for a united peaceful world. The world is actually getting closer to working together and supporting each other. You may think that there is a lot of fighting going on at the moment, especially in the middle east and Afghanistan but in reality there are less people dying in wars than ever in the history of mankind.
What has this got to do with The Scottish Government and it’s vote on independence? Quite a lot. By reverting back to a1934 mindset, you are taking the people of Scotland backwards into an isolated situation. Scotland will not become a great country, but a poor relation to the rest of the world.

The SNP leader Alex Salmond is either on an ego trip or deluded by the thought that the people of Scotland would rather be a small insignificant power in the world. Could you imagine in 10 years time if Scotland was to gain its independence and the SNP were not in power, how a First Minister’s (or would it be president of Scotland) voice be heard at a United Nations conference!

When the rest of the world is trying to unite, why would anyone in their right mind consider it better to be divided?

In the 1960’s there was a great song writer who summed it up with one of the worlds greatest songs

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will live as one


John Lennon
John Lennon – Imagine

I know it’s only a song, but songs do have power and meaning behind them. We use songs to make us happy, thoughtful and sad. Going against the flow of the world is not an easy path nor a successful one. As people we all need to be interdependent rather than independent which is the position Scotland is in at the moment.

The vote for independence timeline

Alex Salmond [First Minister of Scotland] and David Cameron [Prime Minister of the UK] on the 15th October 2012 signed the “Edinburgh agreement”, which is the first process of transferring the legal powers to stage the referendum. A Section 30 order which amends the Scotland Act of 1999 [ setting up of Holyrood parliament ] will pass through the House of Commons and agreed by February 2013.

The Scottish government is expected to table a referendum bill around early 2013, setting out the question on the ballot paper, the size of the electorate – including whether 16 and 17 year olds will be allowed to vote, and how much the campaigns for “yes” and “no” can spend.

Alex Salmond has posed the loaded question “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” Election and polling experts say that is not neutral enough, since people find it harder to reject a question asking them to “agree” to something. The Electoral Commission could well ask for that to be amended, to make it more neutral.

The bill is timetabled to get royal assent in November 2013, when the Scottish government will also publish a white paper detailing its “prospectus for independence” and setting out the Scottish National party’s vision for an independent Scotland.

In June 2014, the final 16 week referendum campaign leading up to a referendum expected to be held in October would be due to start. Then both pro-independence and pro-UK campaigns will intensify, with millions of pounds being spent on television broadcasts, advertising and rallies.

Alongside all these steps on the referendum, the UK government will be putting the final touches to new measures to give the Scottish parliament the authority to set its own income tax rates, borrow some £2bn, and devolve stamp duty (the tax on house sales), land tax and landfill tax, in new powers that will come into force in 2016 – assuming the SNP loses the referendum.

The SNP’s nuclear headache

Nato membership for an independent Scotland? The SNP’s nuclear headache


Scotland's first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond with deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland’s first minister and Scottish National party leader Alex Salmond with deputy Nicola Sturgeon at the party’s conference. Photograph: David Moir/Reuters

Coverage of the SNP’s conference in Perth suggests it has been a masterpiece of political choreography. The SNP has made the most of the opportunity not to just to mark the start of the build-up to the referendum campaign, but to emphasise how “different” – more inclusive, more democratic, better run – an independent Scotland would be.

Alex Salmond’s speech suggested a positive embrace of the “excluded-middle” strategy that the unionist parties have pursued, only allowing a single yes or no question on independence, and no option for enhanced devolution. If you don’t want to be run by Etonian snobs set on dismantling the NHS or politicising policing, was his message, vote for independence. Following the Edinburgh agreement last Monday, it marks a serious media blitz to make the case for Scottish independence.

The most important actual decision at Perth, though, concerned whether an independent Scotland should join Nato. For the party leadership, it is part of showing how the SNP is a pragmatic party, keen to engage with a wider world – and thereby to reduce perceived risk factors linked with independence. Nato membership would indicate to the international community that Scottish independence would not introduce a destabilising or neutralist power into the heart of Nato territory, but that on key security matters there would be a continuity.

It would also show unconvinced Scottish voters that an independent Scotland would continue to be part of a world they know, and could rely on external guarantees for its own security. All that is part of a strategy concerned with emphasising the many and plural unions that an independent Scotland would form part of, most of which would include remainder-UK as well.

That view is evidently not shared by many SNP activists. Many are strongly opposed to Nato and to nuclear weapons, and hold a vision of a neutral (and largely disarmed) Scotland – more like Sweden or Finland than Norway or the Netherlands. At best, this is a “head versus heart” issue, with any practical case for Nato set against idealised visions of what an independent Scotland should be. Nuclear weapons are key here. Salmond’s declaration that an independent Scotland would formally outlaw nuclear weapons, made on the Andy Marr show on Sunday morning (and a looming resolution to similar effect at the party’s national council) illustrates the disquiet this issue can cause. A large swath of Scottish opinion, in the middle ground that aspires to greater self-government and which is up for grabs in the referendum campaign, is also strongly opposed to nuclear weapons.

While opposing nuclear weapons, Angus Robertson MP, the SNP’s referendum strategist and defence spokesman, clearly thinks Nato membership is a vote-winner. Nato membership and mutual defence guarantees would necessarily mean sheltering under a US-UK-French nuclear umbrella, though, even if no nuclear weapons were actually stationed on Scottish soil. Nato membership therefore suggests an unavoidable engagement with a nuclear weapons defence. However, a deal for weapon stationing would be a likely demand as part of Nato membership negotiations. In effect, the SNP is trying to have it both ways. But that policy may end up more likely to lose yes votes at the referendum than to win them, if thanks to Nato membership an independent Scotland would remain reliant on nuclear weapons and substantially tied to US military policy. Independence may be much less attractive for key swing voters if it ends up making no difference on a vital issue.

The problem is that of all the issues to be resolved after a referendum, the UK’s nuclear bases on the Clyde are the most important. It is the strongest card an SNP government would have in independence negotiations – the one thing the UK government would badly want that Scotland has. The narrow vote at Perth, by fewer than 30 of the 759 votes cast, suggests that the SNP’s leadership have little room for manoeuvre on that, even if they wanted it. The Perth vote shows just how divisive the nuclear question may yet be for the SNP.