Whatever the ultimate outcome, the increasingly energised debate towards the upcoming referendum is a unique opportunity to engage all sectors and interests in considering what kind of Scotland we want our children to live in.
The lively ‘Regeneration and the Referendum’ debate that SURF held exactly one year in advance of the big vote produced both heat and light. One of the main points of special interest was:
Energy Generation – how the referendum outcome might open up possibilities to utlilise Scotland’s natural resources for a more diverse, sustainable and localised renewable energy generation and distribution system.
SURF undertook to promote informative and diverse views on this question and the other 6 key issues raised before we reconvene the debate closer to the actual referendum in September next year. We are currently doing that by soliciting blogs from across the broad SURF network.
Nicholas Gubbins of Community Energy Scotland readily responded to our call on the Energy Generation point with his helpful blog. As he rightly says, ‘barely a day goes by without energy in the news’. ‘The big six’ is a now a term instantly associated in the public consciousness with energy production and supply. Everyone has some understanding of those companies’s collective dominant role in production and distribution and as a vital part of national infrastructure. SURF therefore contacted all six companies to ask for a short blog outlining their perspective and any special points of interest/concern.
Commercial confidentiality and political sensitivity are understandable constraints but it was still disappointing that not one of them felt sufficiently empowered to provide any comment whatsoever on how any referendum outcome might influence the options and possibilities for securing affordable and sustainable energy in the future.
SURF constantly strives to constructively engage the private sector in its cross sector regeneration work. Many smaller enterprises are closely engaged in our collaborative efforts to share knowledge, experience and ideas with a view to improving policy and practice. Sadly, it seems that the bigger and more influential private companies get, the less keen they are to engage in genuine open debate. That’s a loss for all of us and one that SURF will keep trying to redress.