Starmer in Scotland to ‘switch on’ GB Energy as poll results show majority want Aberdeen as its HQ

31/05/2024
Sir Keir Starmer

SIR Keir Starmer will be in Scotland this morning to outline his plans for Great British Energy, Labour’s new state-owned power company.

He will announce that early investments will include wind and solar projects in communities up and down the country as well as making Scotland a world-leader in cutting edge technologies such as floating offshore wind, hydrogen, and CCS.

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Meanwhile, a new poll released today shows that a majority of Scots believe that Aberdeen should be the headquarters of the new firm.

Labour say Great British Energy will be funded by asking the “big oil and gas companies to pay their fair share” through a “proper windfall tax”, with the proceeds re-invested in the future of the country.

This is despite repeated warnings that the party’s plans in increase the windfall tax to 78% and remove allowances would potentially cost up to 100,000 jobs by 2029.

Speaking ahead of today’s launch, Mr Starmer rejected the claim that jobs were at risk, and also said Great British Energy would be an investment vehicle, not an energy company.

He said: “It’s an investment vehicle in the energy of the future. The money going into it would be public money but used to trigger private investment alongside it.

“It would have to work financially, it would make money, I’m convinced it would make money. The great advantage is that when it makes money that money comes back to the taxpayer, back to the taxpayer in Scotland.

“At the moment, where there is development in energy that simply goes into the energy companies, many of whom are actually abroad. So the money is going abroad.”

Commenting on potential job losses in the North Sea, he said: “No turning off of the pipes, no revoking licenses, oil and gas for decades to come as part of the mix, but we have to make the transition.

“I reject that analysis (that 100,000 jobs could go). In fact, I’m absolutely convinced that the transition brings more jobs to Scotland and jobs that will last for decades.”

Russell Borthwick, chief executive at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Great British Energy could be a great thing for the nation and our world class energy sector, but only if we see a more balanced set of fiscal conditions and underpinning policies applied.

“Of course we agree that family financial security depends on energy security. But energy security is also about keeping the lights on, keeping the country moving, keeping billions of investment flowing into clean energy projects and keeping the 200,000 people employed in the UK sector in their jobs.

“Labour is blaming the current Government for leaving us exposed to fossil fuel markets controlled by dictators and rogue states. Yet, their plans will see our imported gas increase from 55% of demand levels today to 80% in the next few years- at a four times higher global carbon footprint.”

Mr Starmer will be in the central belt to make his announcement today, but a poll out this morning shows the public want Great British Energy to be based in Aberdeen.

The Scotland-wide poll, carried out by Survation on behalf of True North, shows that a third of Scots (33%) consider Aberdeen as the right location for the new body.

True North Managing Partner Fergus Mutch said: “Aberdeen has been a major global energy hub for half a century. The North East of Scotland is home to over a thousand energy supply chain companies, the largest number anywhere in the UK, and is world-renowned centre for subsea engineering. It is also home to 40% of Scotland’s energy workforce.

“With the people, skills and strategic infrastructure already in place, the North East of Scotland is in prime position to lead the UK’s energy transition over the coming years. Quite clearly there is no better location for Great British Energy than Aberdeen — and people right across Scotland understand why that is the case.”

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