Liberal Democrat leader tells of his pride over party's offshore wind role
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Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has spoken of his pride that his party "effectively created Britain's offshore wind industry".
Speaking during a visit to Caithness, he said the offshore wind sector offered a "massive opportunity" in Scotland and across the UK.
He also highlighted the Lib Dems' concerns over the impact of rising gas prices on householders and called on the UK government to at least double the support available under its Warm Home Discount Scheme.
Sir Ed was secretary of state for energy and climate change from 2012 to 2015 in the coalition government.
“I'm really proud that the Liberal Democrats effectively created Britain's offshore wind industry," he said in Wick at the weekend during a tour of the Highlands and Orkney.
"Under our stewardship we massively expanded offshore wind and, crucially, we put in policies that helped get the price down. Offshore wind is now one of the cheapest forms of electricity, so it helps with people's bills – and what is fantastic is that it creates lots of jobs.
“For me, to get towards net-zero, so we're tackling climate change, you can do it now with offshore wind because it also creates that economic opportunity and is good for people's energy bills.
“I am hoping that the government will start building on what the Liberal Democrats achieved, and they have been so slow. Boris Johnson is full of lots of words but not a lot of action, and we have a massive opportunity here in Scotland and across the UK.”
The 84-turbine Beatrice wind farm, off the east coast of Caithness, became fully operational in 2019 after seven years of development and three years of construction. Its operation and maintenance base is at Wick harbour.
Sir Ed accused both the Westminster and Scottish governments of being "really poor" in pressing ahead with investment in home insulation.
“With rising gas prices putting up people's heating bills, I'm really worried, and the Liberal Democrats are worried, about what is going to happen this winter for many families," he said.
“The government has just cut Universal Credit – that is going to cost a lot of families £20 a week. Liberal Democrats oppose that, but if they're going to press ahead with that cut they need to give more support for people's energy bills.
“The Warm Home Discount takes £140 off people's electricity bills if they are on low incomes.
“What the Liberal Democrats are saying is let's double or even triple that support for the next year, and make sure more people are eligible for it so those families who are really struggling get help directly now with their bills.
“ A lot of people are really worried.”