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Wings Over Scotland

The cart and the horse

Posted on January 18, 2016 by

One of the most frustrating things about the independence campaign was when people tried to put policies before principles. The point of Scotland being independent, as we pointed out in the Wee Blue Book, isn’t so that it can install any particular political party in government or pursue any particular political direction. It’s simply for Scotland to be able to choose those for itself, not have them imposed on it against its will by the people of another country.

To that end, we’ve often published poll findings that show Scots holding views that are at odds with our own (eg on the death penalty or workfare), because it’s always worth remembering that you have to persuade the electorate you have, not shout angrily at it in the hope it’ll become the electorate you WISH existed.


If you insist that independence must mean Policy X, you run the risk of needlessly and wrongly alienating people who support independence but might not back Policy X. It’s something that’s always worth keeping in mind.

Last week we did some polling, via Panelbase, on people’s attitudes to a variety of energy sources. The results were mostly pleasing from our point of view, but all political parties on both sides of the constitutional debate might want to take note.

We asked a simple question: for each type of energy source, did people want to see it used more, less, the same amount, or banned altogether? These were the results.


Should be used more: 22%
About the same as now: 23%
Should be used less: 17%
Should be banned: 23%
Don’t know: 14%


Should be used more: 57%
About the same as now: 19%
Should be used less: 10%
Should be banned: 5%
Don’t know: 10%


Should be used more: 73%
About the same as now: 11%
Should be used less: 3%
Should be banned: 1%
Don’t know: 12%


Should be used more: 8%
About the same as now: 27%
Should be used less: 41%
Should be banned: 11%
Don’t know: 13%


Should be used more: 22%
About the same as now: 17%
Should be used less: 13%
Should be banned: 29%
Don’t know: 13%


Should be used more: 15%
About the same as now: 15%
Should be used less: 11%
Should be banned: 40%
Don’t know: 20%

There are some pretty interesting results in there. For all the volume and stridency of the anti-fracking lobby (for the record, this site is strongly opposed to onshore, not so bothered about offshore), only a minority of Scots – 40% – want it banned on land, and just 29% want it banned at sea.

Similarly, despite often hysterical coverage in the right-wing press, the Scottish public is overwhelmingly in favour of renewables, including wind. Just 15% of people want there to be fewer windfarms or a total ban.

Opinion on nuclear power, even post-Fukushima, is deeply split. As many people want MORE nuclear power as want a ban on it, and the same number again are happy with the current amount. And even climate-damaging fossil fuels have a sizeable amount of support, with only 11% completely opposed.

Just for fun, we also broke it down by party, using the figures for people who wanted each type of energy used more to see which was most popular with whose voters.


Conservative: 39%
Lib Dem: 32%
Labour: 27%
SNP: 15%


SNP: 67%
Lib Dem: 54%
Labour: 53%
Conservative: 37%


Lib Dem: 95%
SNP: 77%
Labour: 67%
Conservative: 66%


SNP: 11%
Conservative: 7%
Lib Dem: 6%
Labour: 6%


Conservative: 33%
Lib Dem: 33%
Labour: 24%
SNP: 16%


Conservative: 27%
Lib Dem: 19%
Labour: 13%
SNP: 11%

If anyone’s wondering, we haven’t included figures for UKIP or the Greens because the samples were so small (just 10 and 14 people respectively out of 1053) that they’re statistically meaningless. It might be worth remembering that, too.

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  1. 18 01 16 15:44

    The cart and the horse | Speymouth

98 to “The cart and the horse”

  1. jim watson

    This arguing points based upon evidence will never catch on you know…

  2. Chas

    “we haven’t included figures for UKIP or the Greens because …they’re statistically meaningless.”


  3. David Smith

    There go the Tories, validating Jimmy Reid’s “if they say it’s good, we know it’s bad” quotation…

  4. galamcennalath

    Renewables win by a landslide. However, we have a WM Tory government which appears to be moving in the opposite direction. Shows this is a political issue which needs much more exposure.

  5. Colin Church

    If there is no commercial onshore fracking in Scotland surely only 15% want to start is the takeaway, no? Not “minority” want it banned. The 15% same as now crew happy to keep it at zero.

  6. Colin Church



    I have the feeling if someone mentions the R word there will be hammers.

  7. heedtracker

    I quite like Dredd’s stentorian veto. Back in the real world, where another government controls my COUNTRY

    Its all Bloomberg report

    “After 2020, the new renewables infrastructure will collapse to almost nothing because of a lack of investment and the blossoming industry could wither, the figures suggest”

    Thanks again, proud Scot buts.

  8. Macart

    A good point well made.

    Heh, just as well I’m old fashioned then. Independence for me isn’t about party policy, or indeed about parties.

  9. Yerkitbreeks

    Having chapped on hundreds of doors for the Ref, my impression was that it wasn’t my colleagues who were fixed on policies, more the householders who hadn’t differentiated between them and principles.

    A lesson for any future Ref – try to offset the spoiling tactics of the MSM

  10. Macart

    By the by, so loving the use of the 2000AD artwork.

  11. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “If there is no commercial onshore fracking in Scotland surely only 15% want to start is the takeaway, no? Not “minority” want it banned. The 15% same as now crew happy to keep it at zero.”

    This is an interesting point that did occur to me while writing up the results. Because there’s still a moratorium on fracking, the “less” option is basically meaningless, and as you point out, the “same” one technically means the same as the “banning” one.

    I suspect, from what’s now quite a lengthy experience of commissioning polls and studying the responses, that people took a more contextual view of it and effectively treated the four options as a sliding scale for their general opinion, ie it’s basically “strongly agree [with fracking]”, “agree”, “disagree” and “strongly disagree”.

    Because, y’know, folk aren’t going to research exactly how much of each thing is going on before they answer.

  12. Neil Cook

    I can never get over peoples attitude to nuclear. Now here is a resource mined and made into energy, now I know the half life of these radioactive materials are in excess of a few 1000 years but they still exist on the planet as radioactive in there current state.

    So for example most peoples problem is the waste so my idea is to put it on cargo spaceships and blast it off the planet!!

    We have the technology and seems sensible to me but people look at Japan and worry about a disaster but I cant see a tsunami or earthquake hitting us.

    As for wind turbines, inefficient model and old technology as over 45mph wind they stop? Got to be a more efficient model to build.

    Plus the amount of steel and resources used in manufacturing is not cost effective.

    Solar turbines are no no as they have as many dangerous minerals mined to manufacture the panels as does a nuclear reactor and are really not that good for the environment.Also Scotland not exactly blessed with sunshine!!

    Offshore Fracking I’m okay with
    Onshore as long as though there is no water course in the vicinity or population we nearby

  13. Thrawn

    Pity you can’t accept the 55% who said no in the referendum but…

  14. Christian Schmidt

    I enjoy your polls, but less so you’re write ups.

    In particular the one on nuclear power is highly misleading as it only talks about banning, more, happy with the current amount, all of which attracts “the same number” – neatly missing out that there was a second negative option which was also supported by quite a few.

    To be clear, there is nothing wrong with having two negative options and only one positive (I mean, the opposite to ‘ban’ would probably be to make it compulsory…).

    But it is worth pointing out that the overall score is (after excluding don’t knows):

    fossil -51
    onshore frack -44
    offshore frack -25
    nuclear -21
    wind +46
    water +78

  15. Itchybiscuit

    I’ve voted for the SNP since my first election in ’83 when Alecsammin stood for the Banff and Buchan constituency.

    I will continue to vote SNP until Scotland is an independent nation again.

    All the other parties are merely a distraction from the main goal.

    Once we’re independent we can get our collective heads around the ‘who, why, what and where’ regarding the economy and powering the country.

    Well, that’s what ‘I’ think. :o)

  16. Karmanaut

    Well, we knew the Tory position on renewable energy, since they’ve stopped backing it and are going ahead with funneling our money into the huge Chinese nuclear project in the South East of England.

    Need to secure the energy to keep London’s global banking hub running, I suppose.

    I guess we’ll have lots more of that sort of thing over the coming decade(s).

    Still, that’s what the people of England wanted, and they are the ones who choose the UK government they think will most benefit them. Their Tory governments have nothing to lose by shafting Scotland, of course, since we don’t vote for them, so we will suffer as usual.

    If only there was some way to stop this…

  17. Effijy

    I saw a presentation on The (Green) Spirit of Ireland a few years back and thought that it must be something that the Scottish Government will be working on soon, however I haven’t seen it mentioned as one of of own Green Energy policies?

    We have wind and wave turbines that produce electricity!
    One of the issues with Electricity is that Alternating Current, AC, (Mains Electricity supply in your homes and offices) Cannot
    be stored. You have to use it as it is generated or it’s gone.

    We may be able to generate high levels of electricity during the night, but when people are sleeping and businesses are closed their is little demand, so we might as well shut down most of the wind and wave generators.

    The Irish it seems are creating new lochs or reservoirs that will have sea or river water pumped up into them at night, while the demand is lower than the production levels, and come daylight and business hours, the stored water can be directed to fall down through pipes to a hydro generator that will produce electricity.

    It seems so simple an idea to utilise the excess power generated
    in off-peak hours and yet I don’t hear of Green Spirit Scotland?

    The excess electricity pumps the water up to a high level, the water’s potential energy is then turned into kinetic energy when the valves are opened, and we are generating Green Peak Time Electricity.

    Somebody tell me that I’ve missed its roll out here!
    With some much coastline and many established Lochs this must be viable for Scotland.

  18. yesindyref2

    A timely article Rev. Independence is about enabling the Scottish Government of whatever politicial flavour, to put in policies that Scotland wants and suits Scotalnd rather than the whole UK, whatever they are.

  19. HandandShrimp

    I have never expected to agree with everyone who wants independence. When we are independent we still have a multi party system and lots of debate on direction and policy.

    Once independent all the parties will want to be at the helm and I suspect few will look back and wish to give up that helm to someone else.

    As someone said during the indy debate “there will always be good times and bad times but most importantly they will be our times” That is something that is hard to put a price on.

    Consequently, I don’t fret about minor disagreements on strategy between Wings or Bella or RIC or whoever. That is normal in politics. We shouldn’t let it distract us or descend into petty nipping. Disagree and move on.

  20. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “In particular the one on nuclear power is highly misleading as it only talks about banning, more, happy with the current amount, all of which attracts “the same number” – neatly missing out that there was a second negative option which was also supported by quite a few.”


  21. Anagach

    Neil Cook says:

    So for example most peoples problem is the waste so my idea is to put it on cargo spaceships and blast it off the planet!!

    Well that is very, very expensive because not just off planet but to escape velocity – unless you want it back smeared across the atmosphere and all around the world.

    Which would bring us to launch safety…

  22. Wulls

    Basically what we have now is a Tory, Londoncentric, energy policy that is completely at odds with what the majority of Scotland want ……..
    It’s deeply frustrating to see polls like this which only confirm the basic differences between what we want and what we have.
    The only real surprise is the close division on nuclear power.
    I don’t see a big difference between a nuclear plant and trident.

  23. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “The Irish it seems are creating new lochs or reservoirs that will have sea or river water pumped up into them at night, while the demand is lower than the production levels, and come daylight and business hours, the stored water can be directed to fall down through pipes to a hydro generator that will produce electricity.”

    As far as I know we do that now.

  24. Rev. Stuart Campbell


    Because it wasn’t a referendum on energy policy.

  25. Iain

    I’ve just read Scot goes pop, and I have to agree. If someone thinks splitting the independence vote, keep reading the fake indy site bella Caledonia.As far as I’m concerned it has joined the bum. We can read, watch and listen to this crap all day. I used to think bella Caledonia was better, but all it seems to be interested in is promoting rise. Promoting rise is just a distraction from independence, which will save the British empire for a few more years.

  26. yesindyref2

    Well, where do I sit.
    Nuclear / wind / tidal power – in favour.
    Fossil fuel – gradual reduction of use. No new coal stations, unlelss 100% CCS which isn’t going to happen.
    Fracking (both) – in favour if it’s totally safe, and no plaster falls off the wall, and I can’t hear it.

  27. Thrawn

    The negativity surrounding Nuclear and Fracking derives from self imposed ignorance fed by hysterical fantasies (sounds a bit like the nationalist community).

    Nuclear is the safest most environmentally benign (and I include wind and tidal in that comparison) power source we have.

    The resistance of fracking derives from the fear that fractures maximum 50m in length and 2mm in thickness might contaminate our water table 2 kilometers above. The poor experiences that have occurred in fracking derive from hydrocarbons escaping up the well drilled to get there and in fact would have happened if the well had been fracked or not.

  28. Taranaich

    The point of Scotland being independent, as we pointed out in the Wee Blue Book, isn’t so that it can install any particular political party in government or pursue any particular political direction. It’s simply for Scotland to be able to choose those for itself, not have them imposed on it against its will by the people of another country.

    Can’t be said often enough.

    This is why I’m in the SNP – because I believe any discussions about policies without independence will always rely on what the government elected by England do. How can we possibly have meaningful discussions about foreign policy, energy, trade, and more, when we don’t even get to decide our own budget?

    We’ve tried it Westminster’s way for 300 years. We’ve waited for the magical Home Rule and Federalism that’s been promised for nigh-on a century. Policy is secondary until we are actually in a position to decide for ourselves.

    @Thrawn: Pity you can’t accept the 55% who said no in the referendum but…

    Pity you can’t accept that people who believe in independence aren’t going to magically stop believing in it, or campaigning for it, or advocating it.

  29. Stoops

    Loving the 2000AD stuff. Didn’t Dredd end up nuking Judd and his clones in Ayers Rock?

    We’ve been fracking offshore in the North Sea for decades now. With good well integrity there simply isn’t an issue.

  30. chris kilby


  31. Rob

    Effijy, I think the schemes at Cruachan and Foyers (pumped storage hydro) fit your description. I suppose geography limits the possibility of more, but you never know what the boffins will dream up next.

  32. crazycat

    @ Thrawn

    in fact would have happened if the well had been fracked or not

    The well would not have been there at all if there was not to be fracking; the whole point of the technique is to extract hydrocarbons that cannot economically be extracted by other means, is it not?

    There are plenty of reasons to oppose unconventional gas extraction other than potential water-table contamination. As for nuclear being benign, I take it you don’t live near a uranium mine.

  33. Sandy

    Very interesting results. I wonder how they would change if people were better informed about the costs, level of resources, consequences of each source of energy?

    I’ve found the BBC to be particularly pro-nuclear (constantly talking up ‘Government plans for a new fleet of rectors’ when no such plans exist) and to have down-played the threat of climate change over recent years (since Richard Black stopped being Environment Editor). Can’t comment too much on the other media but generally feel they are in the same vein.

    Thrawn – I’m not sure the residents of Chernobyl or Fukushima would agree with your assessment of nuclear safety. There is also plenty of evidence emerging of problems with fracking and, regardless of the quality of well completion, its a fact that the atmosphere can’t accommodate further emissions from this fuel source.

  34. Bruce L

    @Neil Cook

    my idea is to put it on cargo spaceships and blast it off the planet!!

    Lol, I’m strongly pro-nuclear, but even I wouldn’t countenance attaching radioactive waste to a giant can of explosive propellant and firing it into the sky. Even once, never mind on a regular basis!

  35. Sassenach

    Thrawn @3-53

    “self imposed ignorance fed by hysterical fantasies ”


  36. Bruce L


    I’m not sure the residents of Chernobyl or Fukushima would agree with your assessment of nuclear safety.

    That is true, but you have to be dispassionate about these things and look at the actual evidence. Even where disasters have occurred, it is known for a fact that very few deaths (as in a couple dozen for Chernobyl, a significant number of whom died in the explosion and ensuing fire) or in fact zero deaths (Fukushima) can be attributed to peacetime nuclear accidents, both at the time and in the future.

    If you were to go to Japan and live within a few hundred metres of the Fukushima plant for a year, you would receive a larger dose of ionising radiation on the flight there than you would from the site itself in that year.

  37. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “Pity you can’t accept the 55% who said no in the referendum but…”

    See that bit where it said “you have to persuade the electorate you have”? That’s what we’re doing. 50/50 on the poll of polls right now, and climbing despite an oil price collapse. Already a comfortable majority among under-55s. Tick tock.

  38. Iain More

    In relation to energy policy it is obvious that Scotland wants to go in a different direction as a whole to Westminster. It is also obvious to me that the Brit Nat stooges in the Brit Labour Party and Brit Tory Party and Brit Lib Dems in Scotland will follow London’s orders on it.
    The Greens appear to be in an shambolic utter disarray when it comes to energy policy and I find them locally to me to be amongst the most hostile to renewables, in fact they appear to be against anything that might or might not spoil their view. I am also disturbed by the number of pro Nuclear Greens that I have met.

    Energy policy was just another reason for me why Scotland should go Indy. If we mess it up then we mess it up but at least it would be our mistakes and we could hardly do worse than the neeps of Westminster when it comes to a having a sensible energy policy.

    I wonder if the flood of cheap Chinese steel on the markets and the UKOK Govt failure to act even in the interests of UKOK Steel producers isn’t in some way related to the fact that the Chinese will finance the building of UKOK Nuke Stations at a heavy cost to future UKOK electricity consumers. Did I not here something about the Chinese also getting involved with that other white elephant that is HS2 as well.

    I cant wait to say TATA to the Union for any number of reasons.

  39. vagabondo

    The problem with the “Nuclear” category is that it combines two completely different technologies.

    Our present uranium reactors are essentially a means of producing nuclear warheads,with heat and electricity a by-product, along with large quantities of long-lived radio-active waste.

    Many anti-nuclear weapons scientists and engineers support the re-introduction of thorium reactors. These were abandoned specifically because they do not produce weapons material (or radio-active waste). The fuel is plentiful, and they can also be used to consume (deactivate) high-energy waste from uranium reactors. Not operating at high pressure there is no intrinsic risk of explosion, and unless the reaction is actively maintained it shuts down leaving the reactants as a solidified mass.

  40. Donald Anderson

    Hingin’s too good for them/

  41. Helena Brown

    The good people of Lucerne Switzerland have a nice little turbine powered by the river which feeds into the lake, neat tidy and right in the middle of the town. Now surely we have enough rivers with strong currents which could be used likewise. Even our own wee burn here in Fife could probably turn a turbine during the winter and lets be honest we need more electricity in the winter.

  42. Brian Doonthetoon

    Hi Effijy.

    Re: pumped storage.

    Pumped storage is a well proven technology in use in Scotland and across the world. The Cruachan station on Loch Awe became fully operational in 1967 and was the first reversible pump storage hydro system to be built in the world. Cruachan generated 885 GWh of electricity in 2008

    That’s from:-

    More news here (from 2014):-

  43. Al Dossary

    Fracking in the North Sea ? On a small scale yes, and certainly when I left the Brae Field Marathon were trying it out on Brae B. It is simply not viable to provide enough wells to make it as productive offshore.

    The one key in the offshore fracking side of things is that the companies do not drill down through water tables, abandoned coal seams or other possible contamination routes.

    Onshore however, one of the figures listed is one well pad per 8km*4km block (or less!). What does that look like ? Well follow the clicky below. The page is in German, but the pictures show clearly enough the devastation that would be caused by planting these 500m * 500m wellpads and all the connec ting roads & pipelines etc.

    The increase in heavy traffic alone from the HGV’s ferrying chemicals and water around would make the Yuill & Dodd’s convoys that carried coal from Hunterston through Ayrshire to Ravenscraig during the miners strike seem like a Sunday School outing.

  44. DonnyWho

    I am opposed to any pressurised reactors at all, as they are inherently dangerous. But small scale mass produced thorium molten salt reactors are utterly fail safe. They run at a higher temp and can be used with more efficient and smaller power plant. They do not produce much transuranics ( the plutonium/half life problem). Better still they can burn up our old waste and make it safe. It was not developed because it didn’t produce weapons grade byproducts. What’s more it isn’t hard to do as the first working system was built in the fifties and our metallurgy and science has moved on a lot since then

  45. Proud Cybernat

    Vote RISE for a nasty surpRISE.

    Only SNP x 2 = IndyRef#2.

  46. Capella

    @ Bruce L
    We have children from Chernobyl holidaying in Scotland every year. They are still suffering the effects of genetic damage 30 years later. Nuclear is perfectly safe until something unexpected goes wrong. Then is it catastrophic, for generations to come.

  47. CameronB Brodie

    “Thrawn”, an interesting nom d’plume.

    Hero of the Dark Side, we have among us, I see. 🙂'raw'nuruodo

  48. Murray McCallum

    I’m personally up for Scotland being a member of the United Nations.

    I don’t care if some financial person tells me I’ll be £8.57 per week better or worse of. I doubt they will have made any allowance for the intrinsic value of a sovereign country running its own affairs in the interests of its own population.

    Scotland, like any other normal country, will only be limited by the will of the people who live within it.

    It may not even require a government of revolutionary poets to effect change for the better. We may collectively become the most boring country on earth where the vast majority of citizens are simply “satisfied“. What a disaster!

  49. Robert Kerr


    Nothing made by man is “utterly fail-safe”.


  50. David McCann

    Scotland has been using pump storage power for decades. The Cruachan one in Argyll is a good example as is the one which supplies (supplied?) the aluminium smelter at Fort William.
    Hydro power is a big part of Scotlands power and is clean, green, and we need more of it.

  51. Fireproofjim

    Re nuclear power. It is certainly the safest continuously operating system producing power at the moment. A good example is France which gets 80% of its power from nuclear and has never had a fatal accident in fifty years. Off course the problem is safe disposal of the waste, but that can be overcome. Not by firing rockets into space, however.
    Coal is dirty and dangerous. China has thousands of fatal coal mining accidents every year and when the UK had a coal mining industry we had many fatalities.
    As for pumped storage, this works well and the biggest example in Scotland is the Ben Cruachen power,station, where water from Loch Awe is pumped up to the loch at the top of the mountain during the night when demand is low and then dropped through the turbines when demand is high. ( worth a visit when you are in Argyllshire). This system could easily be used in conjunction with wind power to compensate for the times when the wind does not blow.

  52. MJT

    It bugs me when folks say, why did 55% vote No…and then leave it at that.

    Did 55% vote No because both sides got equal media coverage, and a fair and balanced presentation of the facts and figures were presented to the electorate? No. That’s not what happened.

    I’d like to think that if i was a hard or softcore unionist, that I could see the weight of the media was heavily skewed in favour of the status quo, that all but one national publication supported the union, that the TV coverage was less than objective, fair and balanced. And, that this had a non zero effect on the outcome.

    I’d like to think I could see that the uniting of the Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems to fight for the union had a non zero effect on the outcome. Furthermore, the carrots dangled, the promises made, the rhetoric relating to all the things that would and could hurt Scotland should we vote Yes, had a non zero effect.

    The purpose of fighting an election or referendum is to win. Not to tell the truth. You can tell the truth, the whole truth, but that’s not how it works. You focus on what will sway the voters. And whilst fear eats the soul, it’s a fantastic tool if you can harness it. I’d like to think if i was the most hardline unionist, I could be honest and objective enough to see that the Unionists were most successful in using fear to influence the voters.

    As a Yes voter, i can say that we used fear too, but we didn’t have all the newspapers, bar one (at the time). And I accept that our campaign was suboptimal, although many people (The Rev for example) did a great job.

  53. Capella

    Renewables isn’t in the list of choices above. Burning wood does generate greenhouse gases but growing trees stores carbon so it is basically carbon neutral. There are many ways of using wood fuel to heat small units such as homes and larger hospitals and schools.

    Growing trees also stabilises water courses by absorbing water thereby reducing the risk of flooding.

    Greens would support growing more trees.

    Win Win?

  54. DonnyWho

    Kerr true but to put it in perspective it would take a bomb or a asteroid to break it, it simply can’t melt down as we know it. It is as the engineers say “walk away safe”. Look it up Thorium Salt Reactors.

  55. Thrawn

    “That’s what we’re doing. 50/50 on the poll of polls right now, and climbing despite an oil price collapse.”

    Nice to see you implicitedly admit the fact an oil price collapse renders the SNP economic case basically as bankrupt intellectually as Scotland would be financially under it.

    And having your support bolstered disproportionately by the 16 – 24 year olds is firstly not exactly a ringing endorsement for its logic (I believed in Bakunin anarchy at that age…fun times) and secondly not as strong foundation as you’d wish. The Labour party in UK have had an overwhelming majority in that age group for the last 50 years…not really helped them much

  56. Nobby Power

    I like those odds on onshore fracking. If the 40% of us who want it banned, got our way, up to 46% of the population probably wouldn’t mind either way.
    Overly simplistic maybe, but it’s instructive that we’re pushing at an open door. Offshore shouldn’t be much harder to see off either, by that basis.

  57. Dr Jim

    If we were Independent we would just be able to get on with it, whatever we decided,
    Right now Westminster can Nuke us to death with it’s policies on anything it likes by withdrawing subsidies on Renewables or coal or, pick one

  58. yesindyref2

    @Thrawn: “Nice to see you implicitedly admit …

    Something I really hate is when people twist what others say to try to suit their own unsupportable agenda.

  59. Brus MacGallah

    Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

    Bertolt Brecht

    P.S. found out yesterday the Daily Record began life at the North British Daily Mail (True!) so not much change there.

  60. yesindyref2

    I guess there are two basic reasons for people wanting Independence. First would be for a particular issue, like Trident. People who want rid of it realise the only way of that happening is for Scotland to be Independent.

    The other basic reason is that only with Independence are we in control of all our decisions, even including EU membership.

    I think people have a varying amount of those basic reasons as their – our – motivation for voting YES. Some are really almost single issue.

    It’s an obvious thing to say, but worth keeping in mind.

  61. Legerwood

    DonnyWho @ 4.34

    I think you are being somewhat glib when you say Thorium reactors are utterly fail safe.

    There are problems with this sort of reactor, for example, containment and corrosion of the containers by products of the reaction and substances such as the fluoride salts.

    They may be overcome but they are by no means an easy option.

  62. Conan the Librarian™

    “Nuclear is the safest most environmentally benign (and I include wind and tidal in that comparison) power source we have.”

    Utter moron. Tell the inhabitants of Chernobyl, Fukushima or Three Mile Island that. I’m sure they will be impressed.

  63. velofello

    A really interesting discussion going on here:

    Thorium fuelled reactors? More data please.

    Fracking offshore? Above a valuable food resource, the ocean fishing grounds, eh?

    When I jump into a car, or onto a motorcycle the first thing I do is check if the brakes function OK, so I can stop when I wish. So tell me folks, how is a fracking operation stopped if chemicals leakage is detected.. or admitted? And that other scheme coal bed firing, are there shut-off valves down below? Thought not. A commentator above opines that an earthquake or tsumami is unlikely around these isles, aren’t there recent reports of earthquakes in Oregan and Alberta as a consequence of fracking?

    Then a comment that wind turbines are inefficient, and expensive, using much material to manufacture, in comparison to… a nuclear power station. I’m not at all sure how using free fuel… wind power generation can be declared inefficient or costly in comparison to nuclear and fossil fuel fired power generation. There is the installed cost of the wind turbine of course, thereafter maintenance, and depreciation, and ultimate dismantling. Cost comparison with nuclear anyone,? And don’t forget to include the cost of nuclear waste storage.

  64. Alan Crerar

    Don’t need to go as far as Fukushima or Chernobyl to see how safe nuclear is
    Even the Daily Mail thinks so

  65. Bill McLean

    Thrawn – you would accept having your assets stripped from you? You would accept the constant warmongering of your neighbour who involves you at every turn and you would accept the marginalization of everyone who does not fit one, narrow particular mold? If you do and would then you deserve what you get!

  66. Murray McCallum

    For me, the impressive jargon used by nuclear scientists is offset by their “solution” of burying waste in holes in the ground.

    Mind you, at least they don’t seem to flush it out to sea any more.

  67. mike cassidy

    Helena 4.29

    A turbine at the bottom of my street would probably power Fife given the field drainage failure which floods it regularly.

  68. mike cassidy

    A useful link for the nuclear debate.

  69. Simon Chadwick

    Very interesting poll, interesting commentary, interesting discussion below the line. Thanks everyone!

    One thin that also needs addressed is energy demand and use. There was a very thought-provoking article in New Scientist a year or two ago about global energy use, pointing out the natural limits. If all of current global demand was generated by wind or by tidal power, then we would already be messing up the atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns by slowing them down too much. And looking ahead, if we did have a safe, free, clean source of energy such as fusion, then all that energy produced and used has to go somewhere – i.e. into the atmosphere causing global warming, not through emissions and greenhouse effect but through direct heating of the air.

    At some point there is a need to limit energy use I think.

  70. Clootie

    …why are more and more people posting as “experts” and also assuming that the rest of us are ignorant and require their words of wisdom?

    I think they have just proven the Revs point.

  71. bugsbunny

    The only time I’ve heard the word Thrawn is when it is followed by the word bastard. I however have another one. Whit aboot Thrawn…..heed first aff a cliff?


  72. Onwards

    I think the situation in England may end up influencing fracking.

    What will likely happen is that gas fracking will be passed, but with local areas getting a huge bung of 20-25% revenues.

    After years of Scotland getting screwed with 100% of our oil and gas revenues going to London.

    A few years of that happening with no ill-effects will see Scotland follow, especially offshore.

    And I understand the UCG method offshore isn’t really classed as fracking.

  73. Dave McEwan Hill

    Fireproofjim at 4.56

    “Off course the problem is safe disposal of the waste, but that can be overcome.”

    How exactly?

  74. Robert Peffers

    @Neil Cook says: 18 January, 2016 at 3:22 pm:

    “I can never get over peoples attitude to nuclear. Now here is a resource mined and made into energy, now I know the half life of these radioactive materials are in excess of a few 1000 years but they still exist on the planet as radioactive in there current state.”

    Neil, you’re talking utter mince. Nuclear power is by far and away the dirtiest and most dangerous source of power on Planet Earth. The myth that it is cleaner than, for example coal, only applies to the actual reactor part of the process.

    The raw ore is mined, using fossil fuels and electricity generated by conventional fuels. The raw ore is bulky as there are only tiny amounts of actual nuclear substances in the ore.

    Vast quantities of ore are milled to produce the actual nuclear fuel and the residue is left in bings, still radioactive. This process too is powered by conventional fuels.

    Then it is processed into pellets that are used to construct the fuel rods for the reactor and that’s more use of convectional fuels.

    Then it is transported across the planet by use of even more conventional fuels and that’s all before it is used as a fuel.

    Wind power is free. It gets itself to the generators and it leaves behind no residue to be disposed of.

    Within the past week there was a report about Scottish renewable energy production.

    Here’s a brief part of it :-

    Posted on 22/12/2015
    New figures have shown Scotland’s renewables industry is now the country’s principal source of electricity.

    The sector generated 49.7% of electricity in 2014, the latest year for which figures are available.

    The stats have been hailed as “a clear sign of how important renewables have become to our energy sector” by industry body Scottish Renewables.

    Senior Policy Manager Joss Blamire said: “These new figures confirm that in 2014 Scotland produced the equivalent of 49.7% of its electricity from renewable energy – the highest proportion ever, and up almost 12% on 2013.

    “These latest UK Government figures are a clear sign of how important renewables have become to our energy sector.”
    – See more at:

    To put that into context Scottish Household electricity use was 97% wind powered in 2015.

    That is not counting the other renewable generators such as hydro, wave motion, sea currents, tidal flow or biomass. Nor does it include the hot water and power generated by Solar panels.

  75. Dave McEwan Hill

    Thrawn at 5.10

    Do try to keep up. As Standard and Poor pointed out the Scottish economy minus oil would attract a triple A rating, rather better than the UK rating of double A plus.

    As Scotland has never received a penny of oil revenues it is in fact the the UK Treasury that takes the hit on lower oil production as it is doing at the moment.

    But then again all the nawbags that think that Scotland is reliant on oil revenues base this on a notion that future Scottish Finance Secretaries are as densely stupid as they are and wouldn’t tailor their budgetary decisions to their available revenue. Just as every oil producing country in the world is doing just now.

    Now for a little diversion can you explain to us how why Scotland s benefits by being trapped in a UK economy that is £1.6 trillion in debt (£1.600,000,000,000) – and which if you add in PFI and personal debt faces almost twice that figure destroying all benefit from economic activity every day.
    Can you give us the faintest idea why we should should take advice from the likes of yourself and those who have reduced the UK’s finances to basket case status?

    How dare you suggest we are the stupidest nation on earth because that is what your patronising remarks mean.

  76. Effijy

    Brian Doonthetoon says:
    18 January, 2016 at 4:29 pm
    Hi Effijy.

    Re: pumped storage.

    Pumped storage is a well proven technology in use in Scotland and across the world. The Cruachan station on Loch Awe became fully operational in 1967 and was the first reversible pump storage hydro system to be built in the world. Cruachan generated 885 GWh of electricity in 2008.

    Many Thanks but next question is:
    With the number of wind and wave turbines that Scotland has providing more electricity than we can use during off-peak
    periods, do we only support one hydro reservoir?

    With Scotland’s Geography and plentiful number of turbines, we must have hundreds of empty valleys nears seas and rivers that could utilise the unused off-peak electricity.

    I hope that it’s not a case of the National Grid or the privatised Energy providers avoiding this practice as the status quo earns them higher profit margins?


  77. CameronB Brodie

    Re. nuclear waste management.

    The Scottish Government did not sponsor the White Paper but remain committed to dealing responsibly with radioactive waste arising in Scotland. On 20 January 2011, the Scottish Government published Scotland’s Higher Activity Waste Policy 20113. The Scottish Government Policy is that the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste should be in near-surface facilities. Facilities should be located as near to the sites where the waste is produced as possible. Whilst the Scottish Government does not support deep geological disposal it continues, along with the UK Government and other devolved administrations, to support a robust programme of interim storage and an ongoing programme of research and development.

    Whitehall is committed to the principle of “volunteerism” and the “Right of Withdrawal” though, so no worries there. 😉

  78. Robert Peffers

    @Effijy says: 18 January, 2016 at 3:37 pm:

    ” … We have wind and wave turbines that produce electricity! One of the issues with Electricity is that Alternating Current, AC, (Mains Electricity supply in your homes and offices) Cannot be stored. You have to use it as it is generated or it’s gone.

    Not true, Effijy. The clue is in the word, “Power”, and the truth is that you cannot make power. You can only change it from one form of power into other forms of power.

    In effect pumped storage Hydro is a method of storing AC mains electricity.

    What it does is use the surplus mains electricity generated during low demand periods to pump water uphill into high level reservoirs. There it is stored as potential kinetic energy to use at peak times by running it down to low level turbines that drive generators to transform the stored kinetic energy back into mains AC.

    Then we have the Hydrogen Office at Methil with another working solution. There they use surplus wind generated power during low demand times to split sea water into hydrogen and oxygen by passing electric current through it. They store the hydrogen as a fuel to generate mains electricity at peak demand times.

    There are other methods too. If you consider the World’s power is a set quantity and you can change one form of power into another form then you can see the overall picture.

    The big problem is that most forms of both power generation and power use are accompanied by unwanted, (for want of a better term), losses. For example the old lightbulbs produced heat as well as light which could be considered a loss when you had to pay for fuel to generate the power. However, in a domestic situation we are also using power to heat our homes so it really isn’t lost.

    Anyhow, engineers had this wrong headed way of considering, “Efficiency”, as loss. It isn’t always so. When it comes to, “Renewables”, we have to consider a different view of, “Efficiency”.

    It boils down to this : –

    The cost of feeding the generator, (of any type), with a fuel to do the conversion of one form of power into another form of power – against what power you get out as an end result.

    So the perception changes for renewables, in that they not only come for free but get themselves to the generator and leave behind nothing to dispose of just as regularly as you refuel the conventional sources.

    So – Cost of fuel and transportation = nil.
    Whatever you get out has become a 100% gain.

    To put that another way all losses, (excepting routine maintenance costs), can be ignored as they come for free. The other point is that routine maintenance, (for such as wind turbines), comes a bloody site cheaper than maintaining a nuclear power plant. Not to mention there is nothing to dispose of except worn out parts that can be mostly recycled.

  79. scottieDog

    I’ll be the first to admit, not having a sovereign currency would leave scotland vulnerable. The flip side of that is that the uk and just about every other developed western country is technically insolvent. Those with their own currency continue to function and issue bonds at a low rate because they can buy up their own debt. (As has happened)

    So it depends if you’re argument is with the white paper (which i disagreed with on currency) or with independence for scotland in general. Perhaps you agree with Johann laments view on our genetic pre-disposition?
    Not sure which it is.

  80. Robert Peffers

    @Rev. Stuart Campbell says: 18 January, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    “As far as I know we do that now.”

    Aye! Rev Stu, and we, (The Scots), have been doing so for a very long time. I finished my apprenticeship in 1957.

    My year’s intake, now new craftsmen, split up several ways. Some remained with the MOD, some went to the Merchant Navy, a few to private companies. (we even had one join the BBC). However the main body went to the then biggest paying jobs on the Hydro Schemes.

    BTW: Scotland is still building new schemes :-

  81. Robert Peffers

    @Thrawn says: 18 January, 2016 at 3:53 pm:

    ” … Nuclear is the safest most environmentally benign (and I include wind and tidal in that comparison) power source we have.”

    Sheer unadulterated pish. Furthermore, we will be paying for the storing and monitoring of the waste till humans no longer inhabit Earth. Nuclear is only benign in the areas where the actual reactors are situated.

    The areas where the fuel is mined, milled, processed and, (the still radioactive), mining residues are left is certainly not benign.

  82. thomaspotter2014

    Sorry for late input.

    Seems going through this thread all these Nuclear and Fracking experts are trying to tell me how wonderful and safe these processes are.


    Thrawn and Co.(77th no doubt)

  83. Robert Peffers

    @DonnyWho says: 18 January, 2016 at 4:34 pm:

    ” … But small scale mass produced thorium molten salt reactors are utterly fail safe”

    That’s what they told an MOD electronics diagnostician about the Windscale reactors.

    I worked with Ian, (as an apprentice), in the late 1960s/early 1970s. He was transferred into the MOD after being involved in the fire, accident in 1957 at the Windscale nuclear reactor facility and plutonium-production plant in the county of Cumberland (now part of Cumbria), in northwestern England. This fire was the United Kingdom’s most serious nuclear power accident.

    The Windscale plant consisted of two gas-cooled nuclear reactors. The accident occurred on October 8, 1957, when a routine heating of the No. 1 reactor’s graphite control blocks got out of control, causing adjacent uranium cartridges to rupture. The uranium thus released began to oxidize, releasing radioactivity and causing a fire that burned for 16 hours before it was put out. The fire left about 10 tons of radioactive fuel melted in the reactor core.

    The Windscale fire also caused the release of sizeable amounts of radioactive iodine into the atmosphere. As a consequence, the government banned for several weeks the sale of milk produced in a 200-square-mile area around the reactor site.

    At the time, the British government released only sketchy details of the accident and in general tried to minimize its seriousness. The contaminated Windscale reactor was subsequently sealed until the late 1980s, when a clean-up of it was begun (cleanup expected to be completed in 2015).

    Yet his death will never be credited as caused by that fire as he died from the results of his exposure to contamination a decade or so later.

    They always say that about every thing – that is until the unexpected thing happens and people die or are crippled. There is no such thing as an inherently safe process.

    I saw a schoolgirl break her neck just crossing the street at a Lollypop Lady controlled crossing. The lass stood on the edge of the kerb and her feet slipped off the edge of the kerb. She went down only 4″ but landed, stiff legged,on her heels. Nothing, not even eating, is sake. People have died from swallowing food.

  84. Auld Rock

    I’ve just picked this up and haven’t had time to read all the posts but it is my belief the ‘off-shore’ fracking is an existing practice in the oil industry and has been for a number of years.

    Can anyone in the oil industry confirm or debunk for me please?

    Auld Rock

  85. Fred

    Loch Sloy was considered for pumped storage from Loch Lomond as early as 1935, the latest example is the dam at Glen Doe above Loch Ness.

    The first aluminium smelter was at Foyers which had its own hydro scheme, the Lochaber Works at Fort William are also hydro-powered by the damming of the upper Spey and diverting it via Lochs Crunnachdan, Laggan & Treig, through an 18 mile long tunnel via the pipes the foot of Ben Nevis to the smelter. In times of drought the smelter is supplimented by the Grid. The Kinlochleven smelter was hydro-powered by the Blackwater Dam (see “Children of the Dead End.”), the smelter is now closed but the power-house now supplies the Grid. The largest smelter was at Invergordon which was to have a hydro sheme utilising Lochs Morie & Glass, this was refused in favour of nuclear power from Hunterston. This power was said at the time to be “too cheap to meter” and after a dozen years of this pricey alternative & much legal argy-bargy, the smelter plug was pulled by the Thatcher government. Nuclear power is the dearest method ever invented to boil a kettle!

  86. Chic McGregor

    For the amount of mountainous terrain Scotland has, lack of pumped storage is the one area of energy resource on which we can count ourselves unlucky. Compare for instance, the pump storage resource in Wales, which has a much smaller mountainous region or to the massive amount of pump storage Norway has to our East. Whether that is down to the particular flattening effect of glaciation here or whatever, we have been endowed with less natural pump storage capacity than we might have expected from our 20 thousand square miles of hills and mountains.

    We do have some, of course, and potential for more, but not enough to service intermittent production levels from our renewables.

    Especially the weather dependent renewables.

    In fact, no amount of pumped storage can truly convert weather dependent renewables into a base load resource. We can and often do have periods with no wind which can last for days or even weeks.

    However Scotland has been blessed with a potentially vast non weather dependent ‘renewable’, strictly an ‘inexhaustible’, called tidal. As everyone knows, tides are driven by the gravitational effects of the Moon and Sun. As a result tidal streams occur every single day without fail. This means that an adequate amount of pump storage could potentially work with tidal to create a base load resource.

    That would mean no backup production resource required to support production from a tidal/pump storage system.

    The requirement to maintain a backup resource for weather dependent renewables is both very expensive and potentially dangerous.

    Even if London had not stepped in and stopped Scotland and Norway negotiating a power cable link, so that Scotland’s spare renewables production could be stored in Norway’s pump storage capacity it would not have been enough to allow a significant drop in required backup facilities here.

    There is no doubt that tidal could supply a significant percentage of Scotland’s EGR, possibly all of it by some reckoning.

    However, for whatever reason (probably political) Westminster stymied development of it are for decades and sadly, even when the SP came into existence with some means to redress that, they have gone about it all wrong so I very much fear it will suffer the same fate as wave generation.

    It is a real shame, because tidal would have minimal effects on the environment and on tourism while utilising many of the skill sets developed for a now dwindling North Sea oil industry.

  87. schrodingers cat

    offshore fracking, yup been done for years, it is also increasingly used in the SNS gas fields with good results.

    biggest problem onshore is more to do with any well, fracked or not, is the potential for earthquakes. this is a known and recognised problem, in uninhabited areas and in the sea, such earthquakes cause few problems, but in built up areas like gronigen and the densely populated central belt of Scotland, the damage can and will be severe.

  88. Ghillie

    What energy you have unleashed tonight Rev Stu!
    This is clearly a hot topic in Scotland!

    Thank you Robert Peffers, Taranaigh and many others for dealing with some of the stupider comments from Cook and Thrawn. (Btw with the drop in oil value, fracking in the US of A is now becoming uneconomic, ref: TIME magazine)

    Effijy, good questions! Was going to mention hydrogen storage but was well covered.

    Wonderful and exciting thing is, that, Scotland being a land of inventors and inovaters, what we are seeing now is the birth of renewables! This is just the beginning, and as the situation gets tougher, the ideas and solutions will pour in.

    What we need is to be in control of Scotland’s future to be able to help the most needed and best inovations to flourish.(Yes, I know, duh!)

  89. Capella

    Westminster stymied the production of wave power which was developed by Stephen Salter at Edinburgh University
    in the 1970s. Salter’s Ducks. The report was altered by a Nuclear Industry lobbyist to make renewable technology seem inefficient and expensive. The costs were multiplied by a factor of ten.

  90. willie

    Quite illuminating how the Tories are the most pro nuclear and least pro renewable. Reflects exactly Westminster’s recent decision to torpedo Scotland’s renewables in favour of subsidy for nuclear down south. All part of the plan to do Scotland down but no doubt they’ll have plans to dump their waste up here or in Cumbria.

  91. Capella

    England is indeed having a problem finding a home for its nuclear waste. Cumbria doesn’t want it but is getting it ‘temporarily’ till a permanent home can be found.

  92. Petra

    @ Thrawn ”Pity you can’t accept the 55% who said no in the referendum but …”

    What a strange comment to make! The Labour Party lost the Election last year so should they just accept the decision, ‘close shop’ … give up and go away?

    The fact that we have had one Government after another … Labour … Tory … being elected tells you that people are capable of changing their minds within relatively short periods of time …. every 4 / 5 years or so … so why not for Independence?

  93. Jeff

    Neil Cook says:

    “So for example most peoples problem is the waste so my idea is to put it on cargo spaceships and blast it off the planet!!”

    I can’t believe after all the disasters and near misses with nuclear around the world this guy wants to start polluting outer space as well! Oh and Neil dismisses renewables but conveniently omits the fact that we have the technology to power the whole of Scotland with wave power but they cant get funding for it thanks to the Westminster Tories’ (and Labour’s) dirty little deals with the nuclear industry.

  94. afewhometruths

    What I really don’t get about those who support nuclear is we don’t know what the full extent of the damage from it is.

    For a long time we only saw coal etc, in terms of primary side effects like smog or the health risk to miners etc. It took a very long time for global warming to register.

    The primary side effect of nuclear is radiation which is very long lasting. We know the miner equivalent health risk from that. No-one knows what the global warming equivalent for nuclear is. We likely won’t either till far too late. It will not be trivial or pleasant whatever it is.

    There was conjecture that a fusion reaction could be self sustaining for example, but then arguments that calculations disproved it.

    We have people running the world who would not take risks with public safety for financial gains so nothing to worry about really.

  95. Chic McGregor

    I can back up what DonnyWho says. Thorium is a lot safer if used in liquid fluoride mode. It is a simple matter to design-in a (relatively) low melting point plug which would automatically allow the fuel to drain down to reaction halting holding tanks if the system overheated for any reason.

    Also it could be used to burn up a lot of the waste produced by conventional fission reactors.

    Main issues with thorium are the cost of preparing fuel rods, the cost of reprocessing breeder material and the generation of U 232 which is a high gamma ray source endangering site personnel. Oh and the difficulty of supplying start up material.
    Also governments don’t like it since it is a poor weapons grade plutonium generator and therefore some weaning off that testosterone fix peculiar to those strange non humans produced by the ‘high’ office political process would be required.

    However it is a potential holding plan (until fusion is fully developed post Cadarache) and one which might even be deployable in centres of population.

    My interim preference, however, would be the development of hybrid reactors, where a small core fusion reactor burns low grade fissile/fertile material in surrounding blankets. This is even safer and able to eradicate nearly all of the hazardous waste legacy from the fission program so far while producing more energy.

    If we can just get through the next 50 years, we can get to a situation where the Planet’s energy requirement is supplied from entirely safe and environmentally friendly fusion.

    Therefore one of the main causes of wars, energy acquisition and control, would be eliminated. Hey! we might even find the psychopath types stop getting into those power positions.
    Not holding my breath though, they would probably just find something else to satisfy their power lust, religion or something. That is if they have not destroyed the World by then already.

  96. Chic McGregor

    BTW the EPR project is in trouble (Hinkley Point) because flaws found in the pressure vessel (high carbon areas therefore potentially fracture prone) have been found in France.

    There is an on going inquiry/test program to determine whether it is safe to licence.

  97. Peter Clive

    Guys … GUYS … look at us … squabbling … bickering … we never used to be LIKE THIS …

  98. Normski

    Offshore fracking? Now isn’t that a curious question to ask – because if people had really understood, the only correct response would have been “huh!!!???”

    Fracking has never been proposed for the Scottish sector of the North Sea and it is not a technique used in day-to-day operations of Oil and Gas extraction in that sector.

    It has been used in Danish and Dutch sectors though to get at gas deposits there.

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