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Thursday, 30 November, 2000, 20:21 GMT
Executive pledge on green energy
Windfarms are a source of renewable energy
Environment Minister Sam Galbraith has set a 10-year target to increase the amount of Scotland's energy produced from renewable sources.

He wants 18% of the country's energy to be produced in such a way by 2010.

And he has launched a consultation exercise with the business community on how best to reach the target.

We think Scotland has a capacity greater than this but it is an important stepping stone to a green energy future

Kevin Dunion, Friends of the Earth Scotland
But he has also warned firms to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions or risk paying a new environmental tax from next April.

Mr Galbraith unveiled details of his blueprint at an environmental conference in Edinburgh on Thursday.

He is giving local authorities the power to independently approve the building of sustainable energy developments like wind and wave farms.

He also emphasised the need to balance development and conservation.

From April next year, firms who do not meet targets on pollution and energy saving will face paying the climate change levy.

Reducing greenhouse gasses

But Mr Galbraith urged the business community to act now.

"The climate change levy is a tax businesses do not want to pay. Its purpose is not to raise money," he said.

"The levy is designed to encourage businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Basically no emissions, no levy."

Mr Galbraith said that Scotland already produces 11% of its energy through hydro electric schemes and wind farms - but he wants this to increase.

He said such a move would help the UK reduce greenhouse gas emission by 12% before 2012 - the target agreed at the 1997 earth summit in Kyoto, Japan.

Stepping stone

The executive's commitment towards more renewable energy received a guarded welcome from Friends of the Earth

Director Kevin Dunion said: "We think Scotland has a capacity greater than this, but it is an important stepping stone to a green energy future.

"However, we are concerned that energy from waste may be included in this target and we are opposed to the incineration of municipal waste being counted towards Scotland's renewable energy targets.

"We should focus instead on maximising our clean green energy sources."

He added: "There is a huge wind power capacity still to be developed in the north and south west of Scotland, but we need the investment in the grid."

A wave-powered electricity generator sited off the Scottish island of Islay became the first in the world to feed into a national grid earlier this month.

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