Sunday, 19 May 2013


Well before the last National Assembly elections I came to the conclusion that the Labour in Wales Government in Cardiff was merely going through the motions when it comes to the government of our country. Rather than changing Wales for the better or even trying to plan for a prosperous and sustainable future it’s a case of sitting back and waiting for Labour in Westminster (London) to fix all our problems with periodic public spats with a convenient Con Dem government in London over issues that even a Westminster Labour Government would never devolve in a month of Sundays e.g. the Severn Bridge Tolls, etc.  

This if nothing else this shows the intellectual dependency on Westminster and London that runs through the heart of Labour in Wales at every level in every part of our country where Labour is in office.  At a very basic level, certainly locally in Newport (and no doubt elsewhere across our country) it appears to be literally about being there rather than doing anything in particular, that and enjoying as many of the trimmings as possible.

This is the real dependency culture that lies at the heart of the current Labour in Wales’s government in Cardiff; it revolves around the fantasy of waiting for Westminster to come to our rescue. When the next Labour in Westminster government will make it all better, banishing the nasty Tories and their cuts, etc, etc. This a fantasy, when the last Labour Government was in office well before the financial crash when the coffers were full and there was (in theory) no lack of political will; little was done to balance out the economic imbalance that lies at the heart of modern Union.  

Take energy, things are different in Scotland, as I have said before Wales is not Scotland; and what works in Scotland won’t necessarily work here. When it comes to energy generation, energy planning and growing jobs then Wales just like Scotland should be in a position to benefit from its rich natural resources. There are certainly more than enough Scottish examples to show that a whole range of entirely practical steps have been taken to generate sustainable alternative energy and jobs.

One particularly good example of the practical and the possible is the new hydro power scheme in Ross-shire which has just been given planning approval, ironically on the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the hydro power industry in Scotland. The £3 0 million pound scheme near Ardross will supply power to 4,000 homes and SSE will begin construction on the 7.5 megawatt (MW) Glasa scheme later on this year.

First Minister, Alex Salmond said: "Hydro-electric and its role in producing energy is one of the greatest industrial success stories of post-war Scotland. Hydro drove not only industrial development but also immense social achievement - something which still rings true today as the Scottish government continues to grow delivery of clean energy through renewables schemes for the 21st Century and also by retaining support for new conventional hydro schemes."

This year Scotland is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the legislation which began the Highland hydro development boom. A 1943 parliamentary act kick-started the ‘Power from the Glens’ campaign; it brought large-scale hydro power to Scotland's lochs and rivers. After the Hydro Electric Development (Scotland) Act was passed in 1943, work started on the construction of dozens of dams and power stations.

At its peak, the workforce numbered about 12,000 men. After the Second World War, men from all over Scotland came to work on the schemes, attracted by high wages. The Glasa development will be the biggest since the Queen opened the Glendoe pump storage tunnel near Loch Ness some four years ago. Hydro electric power is an important source of energy in Scotland, where there is now some 1.5 gigawatts of capacity, or enough to supply energy to more than 900,000 homes.

A recent report has suggested that the renewable energy industry could create more than 10,000 jobs on Scotland's islands by 2030, according to a government-commissioned study. Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles would benefit from wind, wave and tidal schemes, the Scottish Islands Renewable Project final report stated. The research commissioned by the UK and Scottish governments, also highlighted the necessity of ensuring that those areas were power could be generated were connected to those areas where there was a demand for the power.

The generation of renewable energy could bring "significant benefits" to local economies through direct and indirect jobs. The report estimated that by 2020, 392 full-time jobs could be created on the Western Isles, 463 in Shetland, 416 in Orkney and 3,000 across the rest of the UK. The report suggested that by 2030 the job numbers on the islands could increase to more than 3,500 on the Western Isles, almost 2,900 in Shetland, and more than 4,500 on Orkney.

Other potential benefits of developing the renewable energy industry on Scotland's islands were also highlighted, including that the project could reduce fuel poverty and halting a declining population. Over the last 100 years the isles' population had fallen by 43% to 26,100 in 2011. The isles, researchers noted had a lower gross weekly pay compared with the rest of the UK.

Our country is rich in natural resources, some of which could be used to generate sustainable green energy and energy schemes that will deliver real benefits to our communities. While we do have some serious hydro electric projects in Wales, and not just large scale ones just like they do in Scotland, the real difference is one of scale, history and the political will.

In Wales we are in a difficult situation as while we have some of the powers necessary to create and develop sustainable green energy, what we appear to lack, at least within the current Labour in Wales government is the political will to actually do anything. We need to avoid the grim combination of Con Dem Westminster Government’s indifference (if not hostility) towards green energy and the Labour in Wales Government’s readily apparent lethargy towards smaller scale community beneficial green energy schemes. 

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