GMB Scotland has warned the Scottish Government that meeting the energy challenges of the future without recognising the contribution of domestic natural gas production is ‘pie in the sky politics’.
An independent report produced by the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for Energy Policy, ‘Natural Gas in the Energy Policy of the UK and Scotland’, commissioned by GMB Scotland, states the choice facing Scotland is ‘not one of whether to include gas in our energy mix for the foreseeable future, but where the gas will come from?’
The report explains that seventy per cent of UK heating is currently provided by natural gas, with eight out of ten households using natural gas for heating. Natural gas has also proven to be both an affordable and reliable contributor to electricity generation relative to the other main current options of renewables and nuclear.
The Scottish government’s own figures from the Energy in Scotland 2017 publication shows that around 1.9 million households (79 per cent of all homes in Scotland) use gas as their primary heating fuel – a 7 per cent increase over the last decade.
Against the backdrop of rising fuel poverty in Scotland, GMB has been pressing the case for an honest debate about Scotland’s energy future, urging politicians to fully examine the cost, environmental and employment implications of winding-down domestic gas production.
GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith said: “The future of affordable domestic energy in our country is at risk and the Scottish Government cannot keep dodging the tough choices we need to make if we are to meaningfully tackle fuel poverty.
“Our political elite also have to be honest about the economic and employment ramifications of abandoning gas, which powers our manufacturing base, heats our homes and employs thousands in well-paid jobs.
“The Centre for Energy Policy report shows that we are increasingly dependent on imported gas and our energy consumption demands cannot be credibly met without gas. Abandoning domestic gas production makes no sense whatsoever from an economic, environmental or energy security perspective.
“The idea that we can affordably heat our homes, power our economy and sustain thousands of jobs without domestic gas production is just ‘pie in the sky’ politics and the main losers will be hard working Scots and the poorest in our society.
“There is nothing just about inequality, poverty and unemployment so the Scottish Government should be focussed on how to secure our domestic gas production future as part of a genuinely balanced energy strategy that works towards a low-carbon economy.”