Archive for ‘Renewables’

Oct 8, 2019

The Power of Scotland

Jun 3, 2012

And the energy subsidies go NUCLEAR

Whenever there is a debate about energy someone usually pipes up with a comment about how important it is to have a spread of energy sources. That’s the tell. They don’t mean spread. They mean nuclear. The next statement is how renewables are simply uneconomic; they depend on huge government subsidies and so have an unfair advantage over other forms of energy such as nuclear which has to stand on its own. As if nuclear power isn’t subsidised. In fact is so subsidised even the government is embarrassed to reveal the extent of its support for this controversial industry. The UK government plans to build 8 new reactors over the next 10 years to help meet its climate change and energy security goals and is turning to nuclear to achieve these targets. Just how far is it prepared to go to ensure it can get new nuclear plants onboard? Are there differences between what the government says publicly about new nuclear and what is being written into contracts between the two? What do people mean when they report that the nuclear industry is being subsidised by taxpayers? Last year the UK government was telling us that nuclear power was and will continue to be the cheapest means of producing low-carbon energy for at least a decade. At the same time the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee (DECC) was producing a report urging government ministers to admit the extent of subsidies going towards nuclear energy producers when the official line was that new nuclear power stations would receive no public subsidy. The nuclear industry wouldn’t play. It demanded inducements to build new plant and the government responded with offering a guaranteed price for nuclear power- a floor price with any shortfall being paid by public funds..The Carbon Floor price set to start in April 2013 is designed to ensure electricity producers will pay around £15.70/tonne CO2e in 2013 rising to £70/tonne CO2e by 2030. .According to Caroline Lucas of the Green Party this will result in ‘handouts of around £50m a year to existing nuclear generators’. The government aims to support nuclear as a low carbon source of energy and as the initial costs of nuclear power stations are huge, the nuclear industry wants to be certain of a rate of return. Caught in a bind over its promises not to subsidies nuclear, the government has tried to disguise its support under a cover-all system to low carbon energy producers. Placing a cap on the nuclear industry’s responsibilities in the event of an accident is important because should that occur the implications are huge – think of Fukushimo for a moment. How many billions have been spent post-Tsunami clean up? It is not a case of repairing and getting back into operation, the nuclear industry in Japan is struggling to get back to producing some energy with two of the 50 or so reactors being restarted in August 2012 despite immense opposition from the Japanese people. Understandably they are afraid of further devastating nuclear accidents and then there is the question of who is ultimately responsible for cleaning up following the unexpected. No industry could afford to take on the real costs they are so massive and therefore the burden falls on taxpayers. In the light of Japan, the UK and other governments have been pushed into taking on responsibility for underwriting the nuclear industry. The proposal is that nuclear operators will only pay the first £1billion of any accident – an amount well below the real cost of tackling a major disaster. In fact £1bn is even well below the cost of cleaning up one plant in Japan. Energy Fair is a campaign organisation which can throw light on the secretive relationship between government and the nuclear industry. It calls for a level playing field in the energy sector so that renewables are not left to struggle against the protected nuclear sector. Dr Dörte Fouquet is a senior partner of the law firm Becker Büttner Held (BBH) and a Director of the European renewable Energies Federation. Antony Froggatt is an energy policy consultant and senior research fellow at Chatham House. Dr David Lowry is a research policy consultant and specialist in nuclear issues. Pete Roche is an energy consultant and policy adviser to the Scottish Nuclear Free Local Authorities and the National Steering Committee of United Kingdom Nuclear Free Local Authorities. Professor Stephen Thomas is an energy policy researcher at University of Greenwich Business School. Dr Gerry Wolff is a co-ordinator with Desertec-UK and the Kyoto2 Support Group. Energy Fair has identified 7 main subsidies provided to the UK nuclear industry. ‘Limitations on liabilities: The operators of nuclear plants pay much less than the full cost of insuring against a Chernobyl-style accident or worse.  • Underwriting of commercial risks: The Government necessarily underwrites the commercial risks of nuclear power because, for political reasons, the operators of nuclear plants cannot be allowed to fail.  • Subsidies in protection against terrorist attacks: Because protection against terrorist attacks can only ever be partial, the Government and the public are exposed to risk and corresponding costs.  • Subsidies for the short-to-medium-term cost of disposing of nuclear waste: In UK government proposals, the Government is likely to bear much the risk of the risk of cost overruns in the disposal of nuclear waste.  • Subsidies in the long-term cost of disposing of nuclear waste: With categories of nuclear waste that will remain dangerous for thousands of years, there will be costs arising from the dangers of the waste and the need to manage it. These costs will be borne by future generations, but they will receive no compensating benefit.  • Underwriting the cost of decommissioning nuclear plants: In UK government proposals, the Government is likely to bear much the risk of cost overruns in decommissioning nuclear plants.  • Institutional support for nuclear power: the UK government is providing various forms of institutional support for the nuclear industry.’   ‘With regard to proposed new nuclear power stations in the UK, they may receive support via loan guarantees, tax breaks, or other financial instruments and there is concern that, directly or indirectly, such support may be provided for the building of nuclear power stations in the UK. Several of these subsidies are so large that withdrawal of just one of them would make nuclear power entirely uncompetitive. For example, full insurance against nuclear disasters would increase the price of nuclear electricity by a range of values—€ 0.14 per kWh up to € 2.36 per kWh—depending on assumptions made.’ it is now well established that nuclear power is one of the most expensive ways of generating electricity.2 Bearing in mind that there are now several reports showing how to decarbonise the world’s economies without nuclear power,3 that nuclear power is far from being zero carbon,4 that there are more than enough alternatives,5 and that those alternatives are quicker to build and have none of the headaches of nuclear power,6 there is absolutely no case for new nuclear power plants anywhere in the world. In terms of the fight against climate change, money spent on nuclear power is a mis-allocation of resources. The alternatives are quicker and cheaper. 2 Information on that point, with links to relevant sources, may be seen at 3 See Section 0 and 4 See 5 See Section 0 and 6 See The UK government plans to increase the cap on liabilities to $1.7billiion from the current £140million. Fukushima’s clean up could cost as much as $250billion.  BP set aside £41billion to cover claims from its Gulf of Mexico disaster. The nuclear industry is paying well below the true cost of insurance against nuclear disaster. If they were forced to pay the full costs they would simply not be viable. The nuclear industry depends on government support. Without this help it would be incapable of funding itself. However, profits remain private. And note there is nothing equivalent for renewables. “… a fully commercial price would make disposal far too expensive, killing the prospects of any new nuclear build programme in Britain …. The bottom line is that nuclear energy utilities probably need fixed waste disposal ‘prices’ for repository disposal capped somewhere in the range from £12,200 to £24,400/m3, but the NDA’s [Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s] true marginal ‘cost’ is nearer to £67,000/m3, and the commercial ‘value’ of the repository asset could approach £201,000/m3 if operated as a fully private sector venture.”

Ian Jackson: Nuclear Engineering International April 2008

“The government must undercharge the industry for disposing of its waste in order that the industry can establish itself and it is the government which ‘absorbs the final-end risk.’

Dieter Helm, Professor of Energy Policy, New College, Oxford from Energy Fair Report 2012

As well as advantageous deals set up between government and the nuclear industry there is the grim reality that this industry is fraught with dangers: leaks of radioactive material; the ever-present fear of terrorist attacks; the inherent dangers when nuclear fuel and waste is being shipped overland in trains and on the seas. Nuclear power is not as economically efficient as its supporters would have us believe. Its dependency upon subsidies surprises us because we are forever being told that it is other forms of energy which are the recipients of public money. The truth is a little more complex. The dangers inherent in nuclear power are very different from other energy producers. The potential damage on the population, and not only in the immediate area of any nuclear station, are scary not only in terms of fatalities but health issues which can affect generations. For nuclear companies to take out adequate insurance cover to meet every eventuality would make the industry uneconomic. The cost of producing electricity in such circumstances would push up the price greatly to the consumer by at least 12 pence per kilowatt and possibly as much as 240pence. What this comes down to is we would be paying twice as much for nuclear energy if we paid its real cost. Currently we don’t because the nuclear industry is being shored up by the government. This is not what the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)at Westminster tells us however. New nuclear operators will be required by law to put money aside from day one to pay for the eventual decommissioning costs and their full share of waste disposal. This is in line with the coalition commitment that new nuclear can proceed provided there is no specific subsidy


and also: We are confident that our proposals to reform the electricity market to incentivise all low carbon generation are entirely consistent with that policy of no subsidy The nuclear industry is paranoid. The French energy giant, EDF which produces much of its electricity through nuclear, was recently fined for spying on Greenpeace campaigners and two of those charged with spying – including hacking computers-  were jailed. EDF runs 8 nuclear stations in the UK and plans to build 4 more nuclear reactors here for the government. “Tom Burke, formerly head of Friends of the Earth UK and a visiting professor at Imperial and University Colleges in London, said the spying case showed EDF was desperate to negate criticism of nuclear power. “What this judgement reveals is that EDF, and the French government which owns it, are prepared to go to any lengths, including breaking the law, in order to defeat opposition to more nuclear power,” he told BBC News. “The whole future of the French plan to sell more nuclear power to the world depends on getting the British consumer to pay to build new nuclear reactors in Britain. “I would advise every critic of the French drive to expand nuclear power in Britain to be very vigilant in ensuring they are not themselves victims of EDF dirty tricks.” Greenpeace has said in the past that it suspected EDF of using “dirty tricks” against it in the UK as well as in France – a charge that the company has denied.”


There are echoes here of the sinking of the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior (formerly the Aberdeen vessel Sir William Hardy) in 1985 when the French government acted to prevent Greenpeace interfering with its nuclear testing in the Pacific. In France the two big electricity producers are mainly state owned. Nuclear fission accounts for around 80% of French electricity. Germany’s plan to have 35% of power produced by renewables by 2020 has its supporters among the French but there are inevitably others who believe that Germany will be forced to resort to nuclear at some point in the future- still pushing the myth that nuclear is the cheaper option. While the French meanwhile continue down the road of nuclear energy, Germany’s plan to phase it out has left some unhappy about French plants close to their borders. Commenting on the safety record of the nuclear industry in France, Axel Mayer, of the environmental group Bund in Freiburg, responds: “Fukushima also worked safely for 30 years but now, after Fukushima, we see things differently; and if we have an accident in Fessenheim, the radioactive water won’t go into the ocean, it’ll go into the Rhine, and then it’s not a problem of the area, it’s a problem of Europe.”


In the UK the government cannot imagine being able to keep the lights on in the future without nuclear. Craig Bennett, director of policy and campaigns with Friends of the Earth disagrees. But nuclear power can’t be part of the answer – our analysis shows it will divert vital money and effort away from developing renewable energy, and the jobs and industries it could bring to the UK. We’ve had 50 years of successive governments pandering to the nuclear lobby. If their promises of cheap, low-carbon energy were true, they would have been delivered by now. On decommissioning nuclear power stations, the Energy Act of 2008 insisted that the nuclear industry should provide for their own decommissioning but the timescales involved are vast – centuries. Realistically no industry can be committed to this timescale. The Government’s proposals for electricity market reform have effectively introduced new subsidies for nuclear power. Uranium will be exempt from new taxes on fuels used in the generation of electricity thereby creating a subsidy for nuclear power which, by the Government’s own admission, will result in windfall profits for the nuclear industry. Feed-in tariffs with contracts for difference are a direct subsidy for the nuclear industry. These subsidies for nuclear power are harmful in the fight against climate change by diverting resources away from alternatives that are cheaper, quicker to build, more effective in cutting emissions, and with none of the many problems with nuclear power. There are simpler and more effective ways of decarbonising the economy, ensuring the security of energy supplies, and holding costs down.

Energy Fair May 2012 The World Nuclear Industry Status Report Nuclear power in the United Kingdom Anti-nuclear movement in the United Kingdom Energy subsidies Nuclear or Not?

  1. ^ Energy Fair – Who we are, Energy Fair, accessed 2012-01-20
  2. ^ Legal bid to halt nuclear construction, Energy Fair, published 2011-11-07, accessed 2012-01-20
  3. ^ UK ‘subsidising nuclear power unlawfully’ BBC, published 2012-01-20, accessed 2012-01-20
  4. ^ “Complaint about nuclear subsidies may prevent new reactor builds”. Energy and Environmental Management. 24 January 2012.

The nuclear industry’s secret subsidies

Apr 18, 2011

Solar Eclipse?

Aberdeen to take on the solar system

Aberdeen City is a Johnny-come-lately to the significant savings offered by installing solar panels on its buildings and there is no excuse for this.

Every new build over the past decade should have solar panels installed as mandatory, not necessarily photovoltaic but for domestic homes and swimming pools, hot water solar.  No iffs, no buts – stick them on the roof.  A negligible cost to any builder.  Decisions by committee. What are they like!

Travelling around Germany it’s clear that solar has become de rigueur years ago.  The German government provided big incentives for fitting the panels through its 100,000 roofs programme.  Over generous it has been said and so attractive that the once high incentives are being cut back.

Installation of PV panels in the average German  home costs around 15,000 euros. Their feed-in tariff is 0.0953 per kWh, payable at an annual reduction of 5%.  The initial investment is repaid after 12 years and then the home owner is in profit.

George Monbiot the increasingly curmudgeonly voice of reactionary environmentalism has picked at wind energy, promotes nuclear and is sniffing at solar. In his Guardian article he comes out against solar photovoltaic power and feed-in tariffs.  He sees solar as a good option for Africa – it’s sunnier there – but not the UK. He considers Germany’s experience.

Net cost of installing solar PV 2000 – 2008 = 35bn euros
With other costs added in = 53bn euros in 10 years
By 2008 solar PV produced .6% Germany’s electricity
Saving one tonne carbon dioxide through solar PV cost 716 euros.
(Monbiot’s figs)

Tens of thousands of jobs have been created in Germany from solar PV. Monbiot complains these jobs are being super-subsidised because of the government’s drive into renewable and they are at the expense of other jobs – what types of jobs he doesn’t say.  Germany is now facing big competition from Far East producers of renewable equipment. The same will apply to the UK.  It’s undoubtedly true when he observes, ‘We’ve missed the boat by years’, in terms of manufacturing industries related to solar.

However, as Germany is now turning away from Monbiot’s preferred energy source, nuclear, its solar fields are producing output above 12 GW – which is higher than Japan’s entire output from its 6 reactor nuclear power plant.   Yes, PV is a costly means of producing electricity but it is just one of several renewable technologies being driven forward in Germany – which favours wind and biomass.

From a low of 6.3% electricity produced by renewable in 2000, Germany achieved 16.1% in 2009.

So what of Aberdeen’s tentative steps into solar in its community centres, schools and other properties? The plan is to have panels fitted, presumably free by a contractor in return for the contractor selling excess energy back to the grid.  Isn’t the council missing a trick here? For the relatively small costs installing solar, shouldn’t it be looking to take the pay-back from the national grid instead of handing it on a plate to a private contractor?  The anticipated saving of £100,000 over 25 years appears a particularly modest ambition.

Ah, of course, councils don’t look further ahead than the next election. It’s not the long-term state of the city that’s of interest only the seats won and lost in the council chamber.

It’s noted that Duncan Hendry, chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts sees no problem with having solar panels on the Music Hall and His Majesty’s Theatre – ‘I’m sure they can be positioned in a way which would not create any aesthetic issues’. No, not in comparison with the conservatory stuck onto the side of HMT.

As for those who dismiss solar panels as an irrelevance in Scotland, I can only go by own experience. Over recent years I have saved a small fortune with my solar water heating panels. Last year they were my sole source of heating water from late April to September and did the job brilliantly. This year the weather has been better by far than last so far and my expectation is that I’ll be quids in again.

No-one would suggest that solar is the only answer but it has its place in a mixture of renewables which work with our climate and not against it.

Mar 31, 2011

Manufacturing Scotland

There will have been many a wry smile at the squirming antics of North Sea oil and gas companies over the imposition of an additional oil tax by Chancellor Osborne.  Notoriously sensitive to tax demands it might have been supposed there was more hot air surrounding threats to pull out of Scottish waters* but Norway’s Statoil has stalled its £3billion development and other projects are thought to be on hold.

*Scottish waters have been a moveable feast.  On the eve of the reconstituted Scottish government in Edinburgh in 1999 the Blair Labour government altered the area of waters designated as Scottish – naturally transferring 6000 square miles into English jurisdiction with all that meant in  terms of rights of fishing, oil, gas and mineral resources.  It’s strange really given the unvarying cry from London that the hydrocarbon industry was at an end – an echo going back 30 years.

Despite being a major player in the UK economy it’s an industry much maligned in UK terms and little recognised to a surprising extent.  Look up the UK economy in Wikipedia and peruse the list of UK industries under GDP.  They appear in no particular order but are headed by aerospace – why?  Look further into the page and you see this industry has an annual turnover of some £20 billion.  Searching harder on the GDP list and you might just spot the UK’s biggest but apparently secret contributor to GDP – energy and utilities – I’m assuming this is oil and gas.  This sector is dismissed in two lines in the main text despite its value amounting to hundreds of £billions to the UK economy, £250 billion in 2007.

It is clear that the UK treasury has benefitted an enormous amount over the past four decades from our offshore industries as have Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire where employment is high and so too house and land prices. The industry was instrumental in encouraging former offshore workers set up their own companies which far from being confined to the north-east, operate globally.

While there will be few tears shed over multinationals having to cough up more taxes the hundreds of offshoot businesses operating in their wake are dependent on the bigger companies for contracts. Very few will be following the appalling example of Sir Ian Wood’s £multi-million Wood Group looking to set up its HQ in some tax haven to avoid paying taxes.  (See article by Ian Forsyth in The Press & Journal 28/3/2011

<a title="Wood Group tax haven move 'contemptible'"

As the article says – such behaviour is adding to the £25 billion lost annually to the public purse by the rich, greedy and reprehensible.

Throughout the 20th C Scotland has seen its heavy industries decline – from ship building on the Clyde  to smelting at Invergordon; from mining to fishing; from car production to oil rig fabrication. Our only big industry left currently is oil and gas. Whisky is important and tourism as well but they do not create the jobs we need to satisfy the growing numbers of unemployed. The success that was Dundee’s computer games industry has fallen victim to the chronic lack of investment that is stalling businesses across Scotland.

Where exactly is Scotland going to go in terms of jobs, therefore taxation, therefore funding for our social services, pensions and infrastructure?

Renewables are surely one way forward – with figures of 30 000 jobs in wind power being talked about – but companies require financial backing and already we’ve seen several go to the wall for lack of cash while in the developmental stage.  On top of this we have the outrageous absurdity of our potential for creating a rich mix of renewable – turbines, offshore wind, wave and tidal producing energy being scuppered by iniquitous regulations which apply costs to Scottish generators of electricity to the national grid while subsidising English generators.

On top of the penalty-system Scottish renewable energy producers must contend with there is the matter of Scotland’s shifting the waterline. In 1999 in a blatant attack on the Scottish economy, the Labour government under Blair, transferred 6000 square miles of sea off our coasts to English and Northern Irish jurisdiction, with all its oil and gas, fish and minerals. (The Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries 1999) See

Read more:

In a similar vein, I have never fully understood why Scottish hydro-electric is cheaper in the south of England than it is to consumers here in Scotland.

The Scottish Loan Fund, part of the Scottish Investment Bank, is the Scottish government’s answer to the need for private business financing but £94 million does not sound like a great sum of cash to construct an economy on.  As the spending cuts bite further into the fabric of Scottish society creating greater unemployment and as the public sector, currently providing 1 in 3 jobs, inevitably contracts under this pressure then there is going to be more need for smaller companies to offer work at a time when establishing businesses could not be harder. But is the SLF the answer Scotland needs? Isn’t it targeting established companies? Scottish Enterprise has various funds, including the Scottish Seed Fund designed to help new businesses but again funding amounts seem quite small.

There is another source of funding, Investment Angels.  Apparently Scotland is one of the best places to find these private individuals and investment companies looking for sure-fire returns for their money. Perhaps that should not be surprising given Scotland’s record of enterprising and inventive individuals. But this is a finite resource and it is hard to see how this type of support can underpin the rebuilding of Scotland’s economy.

There are voices in the financial world who maintain that despite the Icarus nature of our banks that  is precisely where our expertise lies and the potential to export our financial skills to developing economies across the world is one which should be grasped and quickly.  Whether or not the new economies will be happy to take on board the personnel instrumental in high profile mismanagement of our banking system is untested. It is true that there are many strands to the finance industry and perhaps there is some merit to this idea but I can only believe it will be marginal.

Scotland has long exported its talent. It is important to harness our skilled and imaginative people, whether natural Scots or people who have chosen to live here. We need to encourage innovation and support groups and companies in the most difficult and early stages of establishing their businesses. We have to build on our free and open educational system up through university level to attract the best talents here and ensure our young people leave school having had a quality education.  Having children leave schools innumerate and illiterate should not be happening after 12 plus years of education. There are faults in a complacent system of teacher training, over-bureaucratic education sector, confusion over what schooling should achieve.

Our young are our future and the well-being of Scotland’s economy depends on the type of entrepreneurs who have created so much wealth in the north-east over the last 40 years when hydrocarbons arrived in what were then Scotland’s waters.  But, of course, the talented youth of Scotland – and talented not so young, have to find industries within which to take on their skills. Is Scotland in a position to start the regeneration of our economy in 2011?

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Jan 12, 2011

Back to the Future? Oiling the Way Forward for Scottish Energy

Aberdeen Press & Journal journalist Jeremy Cresswell is in a reflective mood as he considers the state of Aberdeen, oil and gas capital or Europe with its ambitions to become the Renewables capital in addition, and yet, and yet…

In one of the best pieces to come out of the P & J, Cresswell spares few punches as he lays out Aberdeen’s credentials for retaining its capital status beyond oil and gas into a new era of renewable energy.   He looks ahead towards developments of maritime renewable and carbon capture…

Jeremy Cresswell’s words are in blue.

‘This is a remarkable period in the story of energy, a time of transition as Hydrocarbon Man gradually realises that there has to be a more sustainable way forward.

An opinion formed by apparently dangerous climate change and acknowledged shortages of premium grade resources, though low-grade, dirty hydrocarbons exist in abundance.

Only this time we’re trying to implement massive change in about half the average transition time, with several times the human population than was the case at the start of the 20th century.

Believe it or not, little old Aberdeen has a rather important role to play in the new future that we’re trying to create for ourselves.

It is a place where the current transition is starting to be felt, and we either embrace it or lose out to others.’

Is there a question mark over the commitment of some from traditional energy agencies that the time to act is now?

‘So, when Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond attended last month’s transition summit in Aberdeen, the city was already a decade up the maritime renewables road, not that much credit appeared to be accorded to that effort by co-chairs Messrs Wood and Marchant at said summit, from what I was told.’  

The 17th December 2010 meeting in Aberdeen, as Cresswell said, included Alex Salmond , Sir Ian Wood and Ian Marchant, during which Alex Salmond reiterated his call for the UK government to allow Scotland access to its £191 million of Fossil Fuel Levy funds from energy generated here so it can be invested in renewable schemes.

‘…Sir Ian Wood, founder and chair of the Wood Group and Ian Marchant, chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy, the UK’s largest renewables generator, will co-chair the summit on Friday December 17 – to be attended by representatives of leading companies from both sectors.’ Newsnet Scotland

‘The important thing, however, is that the North Sea’s oil & gas supply chain has now clocked the maritime renewables opportunity and is gradually starting to engage directly, including Technip becoming involved in the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre project, which has successfully attracted 40million euros of EU grant aid.

That same supply chain is also sniffing the carbon capture opportunity which, in a sense, is closer to home, as the petroleum industry per se is already well-practised, albeit for production enhancement reasons rather than anything to do with climate change.

But what a pity it is that the actual carbon dioxide scrubbing systems required for fossil fuel power stations such as Longannet are fundamentally foreign imports, which makes a lie out of government claims that the UK is a global leader in carbon capture when it quite clearly is not. Norway is. The Americans are. We are not.

The past couple of years have also been good for the UK oil & gas international supply chain, especially the Aberdeen-based capability and big-brand engineering houses in London.

The trick is to keep building on that and the London Government had better understand how strategically important it is to back such success, not solely with politicians’ endless prattle, but with tangible support and by putting its money where its mouth is, knowing that the return to UK PLC will be a handsome one. I’ve said this before: it really is time to act.’

According to Scottish Renewables own website, the Scottish renewable sector is exceeding expectations with a rise in all electricity generated from renewable in Scotland from 20.9% in 2009 to over 25% last year.

Jeremy Cresswell expresses views widely held across the north-east concerning the troubling state of Aberdeen and its administration.

‘As for Aberdeen and its shire, let us be clear, we must not compromise or squander our energy advantage, wittingly or otherwise.

It disturbs me that swingeing local authority budget cuts could cause immense damage, if they are not already doing so, by impacting on simple things such as thousands of potholes, cancelling infrastructure improvements and not according sufficient priority to economic development.

It disturbs me that the heart of Europe’s energy capital remains so scruffy: where is that sense of real civic pride? Don’t we love Aberdeen?’

I think we all know the answer to that, Jeremy – misplaced priorities from an administration that talks the talk but stumbles over the walk.

‘It disturbs me that if the controversial and very expensive Union Terrace Gardens project goes ahead, Aberdeen will be accused of profligacy at a time when prudence should be the watchword. And rightly so.’

Interesting how Aberdeen has had 40 years as the energy hub of Europe without a piazza but now apparently everything about its future is dependent on it having one. Complete nonsense.

‘It disturbs me that anything to do with educating our young should be compromised any more than has already been the case.

It disturbs me that neither Holyrood nor London appear to understand the need to truly nurture what remains perhaps the most successful economic powerhouse in Britain today; or at least reward that success in some tangible manner on the basis that success begets success.’

Aberdeen’s strength lies in its geographic situation but therein also lies its weakness. Two hundred miles north of the Central Belt and five hundred from London, dependent on an accident-ridden dual carriageway south and unreliable rail links.

‘It disturbs me that, locally, we still don’t seem to understand that, globally, Aberdeen is the brand that the rest of the world recognises.

It disturbs me that, when it snows and freezes, our transport links fall over and chaos ensues.

In my view the railways especially need sorting out – big time.

If we keep on getting things wrong the way we are doing, you can bet your bottom dollar that oil & gas supply chain main and mid-brands which are overseas owned will declare enough is enough, up sticks and leave.’

There is the promise of a rich future for Scotland in the creation of energy through renewable and its associated jobs.  But success is not guaranteed and is dependent on the swift action of the Scottish government, the London government, business leaders and local authorities to recognise the parts they must play. For Aberdeen City Council that means getting the basics established.  Clearly and disturbingly it has no clue as to what these might be.