ScotWind Option Fees (Allocation of Income)

– in the Scottish Parliament am ar 27 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

2. To ask the Scottish Government how it has allocated the funding raised through ScotWind option fees in the 2024-25 Scottish budget. (S6O-03269)

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

As outlined in the budget document, £200 million of income from ScotWind option fees has been provisionally allocated in the 2024-25 Scottish budget to support the total resource funding position. As the end of the 2023-24 financial year approaches, I am pleased to say that the financial position has improved. I am working towards entirely removing any utilisation of ScotWind fees while still achieving a balanced budget.

The upcoming medium-term financial strategy will provide a further update on the future approach to ScotWind utilisation.

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

I welcome the Deputy First Minister’s commitment. We have often lamented the way in which, during the past 30 years, revenues from oil and gas have been squandered on annual running costs, rather than on establishing a sovereign wealth fund as was the case in Norway. What plans does the Scottish Government have to ensure that we will not lament a similar situation happening with options fees from our great renewables potential in 30 years’ time?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

We continue to work closely with Crown Estate Scotland to ensure that we realise maximum economic benefits for ScotWind licence fees, and that we protect the value of proceeds that remain available for spending in future years. Sadly, the devolution settlement constrains our option to establish a sovereign wealth fund as such. I suspect that the member will agree that it would be far preferable for Scotland to have the full fiscal and economic powers of independence, so that we can take sensible steps to establish a sovereign wealth fund or an equivalent.

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol

As we heard, for decades nationalists berated Margaret Thatcher for failing to create a sovereign wealth fund from oil and gas energy resources. However, now that they are in Government, nationalists have failed to create a sovereign wealth fund and have instead used almost half of the funds from wind energy resources to repair the mismanagement of their public finances. Why is it one rule for the nationalists and another rule for everyone else?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

It is not. If Willie Rennie listened to my answer to Kate Forbes, he would have heard me say that the devolution settlement, as it exists, constrains our option of establishing a sovereign wealth fund.

I suspect that Willie Rennie, given that he often comes to the chamber demanding additional spend on various areas of public services, would be the first to challenge me if we were sitting with an unallocated ScotWind fund. He would, no doubt, be arguing for that money to be deployed to whatever spending area he came to the chamber about on that particular day.

There is a balance to be struck here. I would certainly want to utilise ScotWind money and, in fact, when we look at the £4.7 billion being invested in positive action on climate change, we could argue that ScotWind money has supported that £4.7 billion investment as well as supporting public services.