Campaign group These Islands has taken aim at the Scottish National Party (SNP) for providing inaccurate figures for Scotland’s offshore wind potential for nearly a decade.
According to the organisation, which takes a pro-Union stance on politics and cultural debate, its previously published report dubbed Wrong with the Wind highlighted that although the SNP government had claimed that Scotland had 25% of Europe’s offshore wind potential, the actual figure is 6.8%.
Upon the release of this statistic, it was discussed in Scottish Parliament in November 2022. The minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater of the Scottish Green Party said: “At the time when they cited it, Scottish ministers understood that statistic to be accurate. Now that it has come to our attention that it is not, we are working to update the statistics on how our offshore wind potential compares with that of other countries.
“We will update the Parliament once that is done and, at that point, we will consider how any legacy documents might need to be updated. The key point, however, is that Scotland’s enormous potential for offshore wind has not changed.”
Interestingly, These Islands stated that it recently submitted a freedom of information (FOI) request for Scottish government correspondence and documentation discussing the updating of the statistic. The organisation revealed that the 25% statistic has now officially been updated to less than 6.8%, however, there was no statement in Parliament and this figure is not clearly visible.
It is important to note that the update to Parliament was submitted in the form of a letter to the Scottish Affairs Committee.
These Islands takes aim at updated figure
The updates themselves have also been dubbed “misleading” by These Islands, particularly in the wording itself.
As referenced by the organisation, Bullet point 9 reads: “11GW of offshore wind in Scotland would represent 22% of the UK ambition for 50GW of offshore wind by 2030, and approximately 10% of the EU ambition for 111GW offshore renewables by 2030.”
However, These Islands disputes this. It argues that the “10% of EU ambition” is misleading as Scotland is not part of the EU, it is a part of the UK which, of course, left the union via Brexit. Instead, Scotland’s share of Europe’s offshore wind potential, defined as the EU plus the UK, is actually 6.8%.
Adding to this, there is a lack of inclusion for Norway which also is not a part of the EU and instead Europe as a geography. Although the Scandinavian country doesn’t have a 2030 offshore wind target, it has a target of 30GW by 2040. This then pushes Scotland’s share further down to around 6%.
These Islands concludes its analysis stating that “For over a decade, the Scottish government was overstating Scotland’s share of Europe’s offshore wind potential by a factor of about four times”.