Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 14:47 UK

MSPs call for power line approval

Electricity towers
The Beauly to Denny power line would feature 600 pylons

The Beauly to Denny power line should be given the go-ahead as part of Scotland's commitment to reducing climate change, MSPs have recommended.

Holyrood's economy, energy and tourism committee made the call in a report on the country's energy future.

The report also recommended that the life of existing nuclear power plants should be extended.

The MSPs believe that would give time to increase electricity generation from alternative sources.

However, the committee did not feel that Scotland needed any new nuclear power stations.

The report also called for a shift from large-scale production to more local, town and community power plants, making electricity while re-using hot water to heat local homes and businesses.

David Cameron of green energy body Scottish Renewables said: "Parliament now accepts that renewables will dominate the energy mix in Scotland in the years ahead alongside the urgent need to bring energy demand down.

Ministers will make a decision on Beauly-Denny as soon as possible this year
Scottish Government spokesman

"As an industry we are up for the challenge of meeting and then exceeding green electricity and heat targets.

"Scotland's climate change and renewable energy ambitions rest on the conclusions of this report being now driven forward by government, in particular the immediate upgrade of the Beauly Denny powerline, and the streamlining of regulation to support not hinder delivery of the massive cuts in carbon emissions needed."

The MSPs also urged the Scottish Government to spend up to £1.7bn over the next decade to reduce energy use and tackle fuel poverty.

The Scottish Parliament last week approved a target of a 42% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Committee convener Iain Smith said: "The provision of secure, affordable and environmentally friendly energy supplies is fundamental to the wealth and national well-being of Scotland.

"Scotland is incredibly well positioned in terms of energy resources - rich oil and gas reserves, the largest wind, wave and tidal resources in Europe, and a well supplied power generation market.

"However, there are immense challenges ahead in terms of the future of energy production and consumption.

"This report sets out our energy vision for Scotland and how best the Scottish Government can achieve it, striking the right balance between energy costs, security of supply and the environment."

Scotland's two nuclear plants, Hunterston B and Torness, are expected to close by 2016 and 2023 respectively.

The report, which said nuclear power could "unduly dominate" the inquiry, encourages oil and gas companies to invest in marine energy and offshore wind.

'Commercial decision'

The document also recommends that the process of approving "large-scale" projects such as the proposed Beauly-Denny power line must be speeded up.

The scheme would see 600 pylons replace the current transmission system linking the Highlands to the central belt.

Almost 20,000 people opposed the plan during Scotland's biggest public inquiry.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We welcome the committee's report which confirms our approach on boosting renewables while developing and utilising clean fossil fuels.

"We have already streamlined and speeded up the consents process and have determined 28 energy applications in two years, compared to 19 over the previous four years. Ministers will make a decision on Beauly-Denny as soon as possible this year.

"The committee agrees that there is absolutely no need for new nuclear power stations. Extending the lifespan of nuclear power plants would be a commercial decision for the operator in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive."

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