June 18 (SeeNews) - Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said the move to end support for UK onshore wind under the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme was "deeply regrettable" and would hit Scotland disproportionately.
"We have warned the UK Government that the decision, which appears irrational, may well be the subject of a Judicial Review," he said.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) today announced that the RO will be closed for onshore wind from April 2016, one year earlier than planned. The effect for Scotland will be bigger as around 70% of onshore wind projects in the UK planning system are there, Ewing said in a statement.
The minister hit at the UK government for placing a huge investment pipeline at risk and said that the decision would cause uncertainty across the renewables industry "especially as there is no information as to other onshore wind schemes under Electricity Market Reform Contracts for Difference or those smaller than 5 MW under the Feed in Tariff."
The move will stop onshore schemes, while more generously subsidised offshore wind will continue, increasing costs for consumers, said Ewing.
The Scottish government has opposed an early closure of the RO. In anticipation of an upcoming announcement from the UK government, Ewing on Wednesday called for a grace period covering projects already in the planning system. DECC said today the government intended to offer grace periods to projects that have planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance, as well as evidence of land rights.
In a separate statement, industry body Scottish Renewables said that Scotland could lose GBP 3 billion (USD 4.8bn/EUR 4.2bn) of investment as the decision to close the RO early could put around 2 GW of Scottish onshore wind projects at risk. The body's chief executive Niall Stuart slammed the change as "neither fair nor reasonable" and said that it could jeopardise many of the 5,400 jobs in Scotland's onshore wind sector, as estimated by a recent UK government report.
(GBP 1.0 = USD 1.592/EUR 1.396)