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29 August 2003

Wake up call for Scottish energy industry

Last night's massive power cut in London following similar problems in New York should act as a loud wake up call to the energy industry regulator Ofgem and to government energy policy, says the energy union UNISON.

The union also said that parts of the Scottish system are just as much as risk as those in London. The Tube's new reliance on a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) power station should also act as warning to government over its policy of relying on private finance to run essential services.

UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Utilities Dave Watson said: "This incident should be a wake up call to government over the current direction of energy policy. The tube carried on during the blitz - but not through the PFI regime. The shambles of our privatised energy system will soon cripple Scotland's economy unless realistic decisions are taken soon."

UNISON has repeatedly warned that the pursuit of cheap electricity is resulting in an under-investment in Scotland's energy infrastructure.

There are two main concerns: - Cost cutting on the network imposed by Ofgem means that there is little incentive for the privatised electricity companies to invest at the levels needed to guarantee secure supply. - We need to take realistic decisions now, on Scotland's long term electricity supply.

It is simply unrealistic to expect renewable energy alone to replace the power generated by Scotland's current nuclear and coal power stations.

The alternative is to rely on gas imported from central Asia, along pipelines that are far from secure. Recent terrorist attacks on oil pipelines in Iraq vividly highlight the risks.

UNISON Scotland has published its own proposals "A Scottish Energy Strategy" which calls for a planned energy policy that provides safe, secure and sustainable generation. Details on the UNISON Scotland website http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/energystrategy.html


For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Utilities) 0845 355 0845(w) 07787 558410(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)