Further devolution for Wales as we move closer to possible Scottish independence

Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for "enhanced and restructured" devolution through a new Government of Wales Act. In his submission to the Silk Commission on Devolution in Wales, Mr Jones, who opened last year’s LCNF Conference, urged a new settlement replacing the 'conferral model' of devolving powers on specific matters with a 'reserved powers' model where specific areas of responsibility such as constitutional affairs, defence, foreign affairs, social security and macro-economic policy would be reserved to the UK Parliament, with remaining matters devolved to Wales. Critically this would include energy policy.

Mr Jones said “Where we make proposals for enhanced powers for Wales, we do so with a clear purpose – to enable the devolved institutions to improve the quality of life of people in Wales. I believe key decisions over policing, energy, public transport and community safety should be taken in Wales, for Wales, by those of us directly elected by the people of Wales and accountable to them.”

This comes as key questions remain to be answered about how energy policy would be impacted by an independent Scotland. The referendum will be held in 2014, not much more than a year from now.

Key questions include whether the GB market for electricity would remain, in terms of regulation, pricing, consumer subsidies for renewables, and transmission charging, and what would be the implications for domestic energy generation? Would the electricity transmission network remain as a single entity, or would Scotland have its own distinct Grid operator?

How would a separate Scottish energy regulator, one distinct from the current pan-GB Ofgem, be constituted and resourced? What would be the approach of a Scottish regulator to transmission charging, and how might that impact on consumer (business and consumer) pricing?

Would consumers in the rest of the UK continue to support Scottish renewables through the Renewables Obligation beyond the existing grandfathered arrangements, or alternatively buy renewable certificates from the cheapest sources? If the latter, how might this impact on ambitions for Scottish renewable energy? How would the EU’s renewable energy targets be apportioned following independence if an independent Scotland becomes a member state?

Would an independent Scotland seek to continue with existing initiatives such as the Renewable Heat Incentive, Feed-in Tariffs, Energy Company Obligation, and the Green Deal?

What would be the regulatory apparatus and approach to regulation of the oil and gas sector, and of civil nuclear power generation? What approach would be taken towards decommissioning of oil platforms and nuclear generation?

A long list of questions that are nowhere near being answered yet.


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