Utility Week

UTILITY Week 21st October 2016

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12 | 21ST - 27TH OCTOBER 2016 | UTILITY WEEK Policy & Regulation Lobby Policy / Party conferences Policy & Regulation Set on a single market The SNP says it will do what is best for Scotland, by which it means retaining access to the European single market by any method, says Mathew Beech. T he SNP roadshow rolled into Glasgow at the end of last week as the party conference season came to a close. The key message coming out of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), as you'd expect from the SNP, was that the party will do what it thinks is best for Scotland. For which read retaining access to the European single market by any means – whether this is some negotiated settle- ment, a further devolution of powers, or by going independent. SNP leader and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon made the point clear that Scotland wants so Brexit for itself, even if England goes hard. Another independence referendum is its negotiating back-stop, which would come before the UK leaves the European Union. Away from the Brexit bluster, the SNP set out its interventionist agenda. Top of this is the electricity transmission charging regime. In a number of fringe meetings, and in the speech by Westminster spokesperson for energy Callum McCaig, this was raised as an issue and one that results in many Scottish consumers, namely those in more rural and isolated areas, having to pay more. The SNP call is for the UK government to change the transmission charging regime to create a more equitable system in which the charging variations are brought more in line with one another – although this comes with the caveat that it doesn't want vulnerable consumers in other regions to pay more. The other key area for the SNP on the energy front is renewable power – something it is eager to crow about given that Scotland has surpassed its 2020 target to have 50 per cent of its power from renewables four years early. Roseanna Cunningham MSP, cabinet sec- retary for environment, climate change and land reform, made that very clear when she was speaking, but said more still needed to be done, especially given the cutbacks coming from Westminster. Cunningham wanted similar action in relation to water and environmental quality legislation, saying high quality standards should be strived for. These comments are also explicitly bring- ing the SNP more in line with Brussels, rather than the UK parliament, and form part of the bigger SNP picture. The party is keen for Scotland to stay close to the EU, if not a part of it, while also putting more dis- tance between itself and the Conservatives and Labour. Pushing the green agenda is one way of doing that as the party gears up for more negotiations with Westminster and the EU. Creating that distance from the main UK parties makes the SNP stand out as protect- ing Scottish interests – something that could lead to another referendum and potentially an independent Scotland by March 2019. "Climate change is a threat to our whole environment. I want to ensure future generations can agree Scotland was bold, Scotland delivered and Scotland got it right." Roseanna Cunningham MSP, cabinet secretary for environment, climate change and land reform "We are delivering on our world- leading climate change targets, six years ahead of schedule." Deputy first minister John Swinney Next Lobby Next week, Utility Week will look back over the party conference season and wrap up the key events, speeches, and talking points – and see how this sets the UK political scene ahead of November's Autumn Statement. UtilityWeekLobby

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