This week the Gazette asked the campaign leaders for their views on the independence debate’s big questions.
Yes campaign chief executive Blair Jenkins and No campaign director Blair McDougall didn’t pull their punches.
And they were only too happy to round-up our independence debate coverage by sharing their views with readers.
In the penultimate of five questions, the two Blairs go toe to toe on energy in Scotland.
Question: What impact/benefits would independence have on the energy sector? And what about environmental policies?
Blair Jenkins, Yes campaign: A report by academics from Cardiff, Birmingham, Robert Gordon and Queen’s Universities has concluded that with a focus on renewables – instead of Westminster’s expensive nuclear power – consumers in an independent Scotland can expect to see lower energy prices.
Subsequently, another group of 16 experts from across the UK wrote to a newspaper arguing that “Scotland needs greater energy powers to escape from English advocacy of economically and politically bankrupt nuclear power and to counteract declining support from the UK government for Scottish priorities for renewable energy”. They noted proposals for more energy devolution from the three No parties were “feeble”.
Independence also offers real opportunities for community ownership of renewable energy sources.
With job creating powers in Scotland, an industrial strategy can ensure that new skilled jobs in the renewables sector provide opportunities here.
And we’ll also gain powers to tackle high energy bills – in an energy rich nation, why do so many struggle to heat their homes?
Finally, one significant new opportunity that independence offers – though it would be for the people, through a constitutional convention, to decide – is to enshrine protection of the environment in our written constitution, ensuring its preservation for future generations.
Blair McDougall, No campaign: Being part of the UK keeps costs down for families in Scotland. As part of the UK, the cost of energy is lower for Scottish consumers and businesses who benefit from sharing the costs of network investment, low carbon incentives and protection for rural communities.
Currently the cost of investment is spread across 63 million people across the UK, not just the 5 million people in Scotland.
In an independent Scotland, the costs of supporting Scottish energy infrastructure investment, social programmes to support remote consumers and Scotland’s growing renewable energy sector would fall on Scottish bill payers alone.
Nationalists have refused to answer the questions over what the real price of separation would be.
We know that our energy bills would go up by hundreds of pounds for every household because the experts have said that would be the case.
As part of the UK we can pool and share our energy resources for the benefit of all which helps keeps energy bills down. We are stronger and better when we work together. Where is the sense in putting that at risk?
Look out for the final question answered by the two Blairs, on pensions, at 8pm tonight.