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Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 19:21 GMT
Green energy plea rejected
Wind farm
Wind farms are a source of renewable energy
Green MSP Robin Harper's attempts to get the Scottish Executive to seize the potential of energy sources such as wind and wave power has failed to win support.

Mr Harper had raised a motion calling on the executive to establish tests and appoint a renewable energy commissioner.

The Lothians MSP told the Scottish Parliament that the country had the opportunity to become a "world leader" in renewable energy as it has the best natural resources in the European Union.

However, the move by the leader of the Scottish Green Party was rejected in favour of an executive motion.

Mr Harper said that if the executive made the right choices over renewable energy, it would create employment, benefit rural communities and provide clean electricity.

Robin Harper MSP
Robin Harper MSP: "Make Scotland world leader"
He made the pleas during time he had been allocated in the Scottish Parliament to bring a debate before MSPs.

Mr Harper called on the executive to set a target of supplying 22% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

He said: "We should also consider setting an aspirational target beyond this in order to make Scotland a world leader in application, research and manufacture of renewables."

He warned that, unless the executive invested in renewable energy, Scotland would lose out to Denmark, which has already employed 18,000 people in wind turbine manufacture alone.

He also argued that renewable energy could replace fossil fuels and nuclear power and contribute to a reduction in climate change from greenhouse gas emissions.

New commissioner

In his speech, Mr Harper also called on the executive to establish a team within the cabinet drawing on the resources of Enterprise Minister Wendy Alexander and the Minister for Environment Sam Galbraith.

He said the first goal of the new team should be to set up a renewable energy working group headed by a new commissioner with a remit to develop the use of renewable energy in Scotland.

Labour MSP Allan Wilson said Scotland would be producing 18% of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2010.

Mr Wilson said there needed to be a balance between encouraging renewable energy and the national policy on conservation.

We should ... make Scotland a world leader in application, research and manufacture of renewables

Green MSP Robin Harper

Scottish National Party environment spokeswoman Fiona McLeod said Scotland had huge potential in the area of renewable energy and should be a world leader in the field.

The West of Scotland MSP told parliament: "The SNP want to see a target of 25% by the year 2010 - a target we could easily achieve.

She urged "local production of renewable energy for local consumption."

Murray Tosh, the Conservative transport and environment spokesman, congratulated Mr Harper for bringing the debate to parliament.

However, he said the Tories would not be supporting his motion because it was not the party's policy to close the door on nuclear energy.

He added that "aesthetic" objections to wind power should not inhibit its development.

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