News Item: Scottish leader promises investment fund if independence secured
Scotland will build an economy based on renewable energy, creating a new £20 billion ($22.1 billion) investment fund if it becomes independent, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday.
The money would be delivered in the first decade after breaking away from the United Kingdom and would be funded with remaining oil revenues and the “responsible” use of borrowing powers, she revealed.
“A fund like this could support a massive programme to decarbonise housing, cut fuel bills and reduce fuel poverty,” she told her Scottish National Party’s annual conference in Aberdeen.
“It could finance the building of thousands more affordable homes, invest in local renewable energy projects, helping communities own assets and wield more influence over their use.
“It will help the transition to net zero, build resilient communities, and kick-start the sustainable economic growth so important for our newly independent nation.”
Sturgeon said more details would be released next week when her SNP-led government in Edinburgh publishes a new paper on the economic case for independence for the nation of 5.4 million.
But she said that unlike the UK government in London, no licence to frack for gas would ever be granted in Scotland.
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss last month promised to lift a ban on fracking for shale gas, in place since 2019, in order to boost energy security.
Sturgeon took aim at Truss for failing “utterly” in the UK government’s duty to mitigate the impact of a cost-of-living crisis, which has seen energy bills soar on the Russian squeeze on supplies.
Instead, she criticised the ruling Conservative party for cutting taxes for the richest in an unfunded plan that has spooked markets and weakened the pound.
Ordinary people were paying the price, she argued, with the economic turbulence and loss of confidence weakening the argument that Scotland benefited from being part of the United Kingdom.
– Legal case –
Sturgeon’s speech came a day before the UK Supreme Court considers an application about whether to allow Scotland to hold a new vote on independence in October next year.
The Scottish government’s most senior legal adviser approached the court earlier this year in order to get legal clarity on the matter.
Both Truss and her predecessor Boris Johnson have ruled out transferring powers to the devolved administration in Edinburgh to hold the referendum.
Scots last voted on independence in 2014 but rejected breaking up the three-centuries-old union with England and Wales by 55 percent to 45 percent.
But Sturgeon argues the Brexit vote in 2016, which most Scots voted against, and last year’s Scottish parliament elections which saw a majority of pro-independence lawmakers elected changed the game.
The SNP has pledged to take an independent Scotland back into the European Union.
The so-called “indyref2” will be “consultative” and only proceed with UK Supreme Court approval, the SNP-led government has promised.
Should it do so, a vote in favour of independence would still need approval from both parliaments in Edinburgh and London.
If it fails, Sturgeon promised that the SNP would make the next general election, due by January 2025 at the latest, a de facto vote on independence.