Re-opened Scottish dock to build state-of-the-art floating windfarm to begin to exploit Scotland’s 25% share of all of Europe’s offshore wind potential

An artist’s impression of the world’s largest floating windfarm planned off the coast of Scotland. Photograph: Statoil ASA

The giant Kishorn dry dock will re-open in August, creating 200 new jobs and the first wind farm will be in the water 15km of the coast of Kincardineshire by spring 2018. This looks like being the beginning of the missing link in Scotland’s vibrant renewables sector – the actual construction of the turbines. Scotland’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, who attended the contract signing ceremony, said:

”With 25% of Europe’s offshore wind potential, and through development with due regard to our natural environment, Scotland is strongly positioned to maximise the economic and environmental benefits that both technologies can deliver. The Scottish Government is determined to ensure projects deliver supply chain jobs in communities across Scotland and we have been encouraging developers to do all they can to maximise their economic impact, so today’s agreement is very welcome.”

Note that 25% figure? With the right investment Scotland can become one of the major players in this industry. That we have not been building the turbines ourselves is down to lack of political autonomy. There is not the desire in Westminster to make us successful. With independence, there will be.

That these are to be floating windfarms is important. I’ve already written about their advantages. Stanford University has summarised them:

  1. The first and most immediately compelling advantage of floating offshore wind is access to incredible wind resource over deep waters. Currently we can only access a small fraction of the offshore wind resource worldwide due to depth constraints.
  2. Offshore wind is recognized for its proximity to load centers but often still encounters significant NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) resistance. Population centers tend to cluster near the coastlines, so offshore wind minimizes the distance from generation to load centers, without competing for valuable land. Opponents argue, however, that turbines negatively impact the skyline (visual pollution) or result in disruptive noise. Floating turbines address these concerns by allowing wind farms to be pushed farther offshore and out of sight.
  3. Finally, there are also several manufacturing advantages to floating platforms, such as using less material in construction and reducing the need for specialty marine engineering expertise. One major cost driver for conventional offshore wind are the heavy lift vessels required to erect the turbine. Very expensive special purpose ships are required to transport the parts on site and perform the assembly. Floating turbine platforms, however, are designed to be assembled in port and towed into position using simple barges or tugboats. This can result in major cost savings and greatly increased flexibility in construction.

So, it’s extra good news that Kishorn will be building at forefront on the technology. 15km off-shore will surely even please ‘The Donald’.

Independent Scotland unlikely to go to war to defend Vietnam according to defence expert


I’m the self-appointed ‘defence expert’. Though I’m a bit of an amateur in this field, I feel sure of the above prediction. You might be thinking ‘Why on earth would we be going to war to defend Vietnam anyway?’ Well, see this from the Ministry of Defence and The Rt Hon Mike Penning MP on 21st April:

‘UK maritime forces visit Vietnam with French naval task group. UK maritime forces have reaffirmed the UK’s Defence ties with Vietnam during a visit. Around 60 Royal Navy and Royal Marines are currently taking part in a five-month French naval deployment to the Indian Ocean and Far East, aboard French assault ship FS Mistral.’

You might remember that Vietnam has already, on its own, defeated the French twice, the Japanese and the USA so these 60 Marines must be some guys. Reading carefully, it’s clear that this is part of the US agenda to encircle China. The strategy was deeply risky before but now, with Trump as president, it’s getting very scary. The Chinese armed forces are estimated to be around 1.6 million strong. Vietnam, like China, is still a Communist regime.

This positively Pythonesque (Monty) jaunt is the kind of thing that reminds me of the post-imperial vanities and delusions that survive in Westminster and why, most of all, I want Scotland out of this utterly dysfunctional union.

Good News: Liam Fox has become English

© Liam Fox

From Liam Fox MP on 21 April 2017:

 ‘Dr Fox: English goods are ‘in demand’ across the world. As Saint George’s Day approaches this weekend, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has celebrated the international demand for quintessential English food and drink around the world…. From strawberries and cream to cheddar cheese and gin, typically English products are proving popular internationally.’

As it goes on, the report written I know by London-based admin staff but approved by Liam, we see the definitive sign of Englishness – the conflation of it and Britishness. There is, of course, his new pride in St George, too. He is, of course, MP for North Somerset (Cheddar!) so I doubt he’s ever coming back to Scotland. Hip hip……

You might remember reading:

‘Record year for food and drink exports’

In this, I report that the total Scottish food and drinks exports figure for 2016 was £1.5 billion with around 25% of all UK food and drinks exports being Scotch. Liam’s team come up with

Strawberries               £900 thousand

Cheddar Cheese          £229 million

UK Gin                         £474 thousand

Leaving aside the fact that most UK Gin is now produced in Scotland and a little suspicion that the strawberries might not all be English, all they can manage is around £230 million compared to the Scottish £1.5 billion.

Dr Liam is quoted as saying:

‘As we celebrate St George’s day, it’s clear that many other countries around the world will also be enjoying delicious and typically English food and drink.’

Do the English even celebrate St George’s Day? Maybe converts are more into it?

SNP Supporters identify more with Norway than Britain

©  I missed this yougov poll at the time, in 2014, stumbled across it again today and thought you might be interested in it. Even then, SNP supporters were identifying more strongly with Norway than with the rest of Britain. After another three years of Tory austerity, I suspect that the identification with Norway rather than Britain might be stronger. To be precise, they were saying:

‘Scotland is more similar to Norway than it is to anywhere else in Europe – including the rest of the UK.’

30% of SNP supporters agreed with the above while only 3% of Tory supporters and 9% of Labour supporters agreed. It’s interesting that any did, don’t you think? Here’s a graph giving the full detail:

The survey didn’t really explore why so many SNP supporters might think this. My guess is that it had more to do with a shared approval of greater equality, collectivism and care for the weak than with Norwegians’ earlier fondness for rape, pillage and plunder. When you think of it, 1st Millennium Norwegian or Viking preferences for the latter behaviour might make them a better match for some of the London financiers, corporate executives, Tory MPs and, of course, some English football fans. Actually, many of the other countries listed are also less unequal and more collectivist than the UK so the overall figure for those not identifying with Britain may be revealing too – 80%?

Would half of Tories still happily lose Scotland to stuff Labour for good and because they despise us, really?

(c) The Times

The above idea was first suggested, to my knowledge in 2012 when the New Statesman suggested the Scottish referendum was ‘win-win for the Tories. If Scotland went solo, Labour would lose 41 seats and the Tories would only lose one. The article went on the make the following points:

  1. The break-up of the Union and the removal of Scottish MPs for Westminster would dramatically reduce the chances of Labour ever returning to government.
  2. Continuing to assume the Union is sacrosanct is not an assumption you can make any more. A 2009 ConservativeHome pollof 144 party candidates found that 46 per cent would not be “uncomfortable about Scotland becoming independent”.
  3. To many Tories, an independent England – economically liberal, fiscally conservative, Eurosceptic, Atlanticist – is an attractive prospect.

What about more recently? See this extract from a letter to the National in 2016 on the same issue:

‘Something smells in the state of Unionism. Theresa May states that the UK is entering a golden era in trade and investment with China, while China cancels a memorandum of understanding with the Scottish Government. Allegedly this was caused by Unionists in the Scottish Parliament, and others, creating a negative climate which dissuaded the Chinese from proceeding with the Scottish Government deal. Although we can’t prove it yet, this is how we probably arrived at this sad state of affairs – Theresa May wanted the decks cleared for London to be seen to be leading on the China deals and relationships with China. It would never do for the Scottish upstarts to be seen to be leading on this. So the order went out from the Unionist parties’ HQs in London to the Unionist parties’ branch offices in Scotland to create as much negativity around the Scottish-China deals as possible, aided and abetted of course by the Unionist media. This was done through back channels. Discreet and sleekit. The blowback eventually surfaced, was deflected, and the SNP got the blame for the Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese, falling through. Ask yourself this question: why would the SNP want to harm Scotland? They have the best interests of Scotland at heart. Then ask yourself another question: who does want to harm Scotland, and who does not have the best interests of Scotland at heart? Answer – the Unionists. I could be mistaken, but I don’t think so. The Unionists were too quick to blame the SNP and fell into their own trap.’

 Just because we’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get us?

In more recent times, it’s become clear that protecting the English financial sector, Nissan, the soft Irish border and Gibraltar are the priorities for Theresa May’s Brexit deal and she is prepared to gamble that the Scots are too chicken to fly the coop. See this for more detail on these:

Good News: Theresa May is ready to risk losing Scotland to win concessions from the EU that really matter to England

In March this year, a survey of Tory grassroots members conducted by the Centre for English Identity and Politics at Winchester University found:

29% would welcome Scottish Independence

66% believe that a break-away would be either positive, have no real significant impact on England, Wales and Northern Ireland or would be manageable

73% believe that the devolution settlement since 1999 has been harmful for England

93% of Party members in England believed that Tony Blair’s creation of a Scottish government and Parliament has been harmful to England.

66% do not want Teresa May to offer any new financial or policy powers to the Scottish government during any second referendum.

Clearly the Tory elite are determined to hang on to Scotland for various reasons – strategic security, energy security and a general sense of imperial entitlement, but their troops are not with them. Hopefully, to please them, May will push us too far. We can only hope.

Far from Teed Off: Golf tourism ‘drives Scottish economy’…..a bit


Getting a little carried away, yesterday’s Press & Journal, kind of overstated the role golf tourism plays in the Scottish economy. I’m not sniffing at £286 million, but tourism overall, according to accounts for around £6 billion!

However, it’s not nice to be grudging, the story is worth telling and makes important points about golf’s regional value:

‘Regionally, economic value of golf tourism to Aberdeenshire….. is £15.3million, with 360 jobs supported. Across the Highlands….the sport brought in £23.2million and supported 643 jobs. The study found the value has risen by 30% = or £66 million – since 2008. Across Scotland the pursuit supports 4,700 jobs. It also showed that overseas golfing visitors spend on average £338 per night during a trip to Scotland, which is more than 4 times the daily spend of an average overseas visitor. The North American market remains key, representing 30% of all overnight golfing visitors with 14% coming from Europe.’

I don’t play and yet I live in Ayrshire. Deportation must be a risk for me.

Scotland’s expertise in oil extraction leads to opportunities far beyond the North Sea

An Aberdeen-based firm, Interventek Subsea, have developed what is thought to be the world’s first safety valve. The valve can operate at 20 000psi and in temperatures up to 350 Fahrenheit. It was designed with the oil fields around Mexico in mind but presumably that ability to withstand very high pressure will be handy in the very deep waters west of Shetland too?

This looks like a further example of the benefits of 40 years of experience for Scots in the North Sea. See:

Happy New Year Story: Scotland’s ‘renewable energy expertise’ in demand worldwide, says new research. At least 14 news agencies report it but BBC Scotland, STV?

In the above, I quoted the Aberdeen Evening Express:

‘Scotland’s “expertise in renewable energy” is in demand around the world, with businesses working in more than 40 countries, according to new research. Projects include advising the government of Japan, providing cranes to build wind farms in Morocco and South Africa and working with the World Bank in Chile, industry body Scottish Renewables said.’

It got little other coverage in the MSM.