The Westminster Government must recognise the “vital importance” of island renewables to the UK energy market, Scotland’s energy minister said today ahead of talks with his UK counterpart.

Paul Wheelhouse and the UK Energy Secretary Greg Clark co-chaired the fifth meeting of the Scottish Islands Renewables Delivery Forum today in Stornoway.

Discussions focused on the UK Government’s recent consultation on support for wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland. The development of proposed major projects alone would trigger initial investment of £2.5 billion.

“Our position on island wind is both consistent and very clear – we must do all we can to enable our island communities to benefit from this substantial resource, large enough to meet 5% of total UK electricity demand, provide significant boost to decarbonising our electricity supply, and would be worth up to £725 million to local economies,” Mr Wheelhouse said.

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“The planned projects on the Western and Shetland Isles would face extremely high locational transmission charges to provide electricity to the mainland. That is why an appropriate support mechanism is so important to help unlock very significant capital investment from the private sector and community-owned developers as well as, in turn, underpinning the investment case to National Grid for vital islands grid connections. Bringing this positive scenario about, as quickly as possible, will be at the heart of my discussions with Mr Clark.

“Responses to the UK Government’s consultation show the case for supporting island wind projects is stronger than ever – our own submission was robust and credible. The projects under discussion would deliver tangible economic benefits to the communities involved while helping to ensure resilience in GB market electricity supplies. I look forward to making this positive case during our meeting with the Secretary of State.”

The Scottish Government said Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles between them possess the ability to produce high-quality renewable energy from wind and marine resources – with the potential to meet up to 5% of total GB electricity demand.