SNP minister uses false figures to inflate Scotland’s wind power potential

Angus Robertson faces accusations of violating the ministerial code – Getty/Ken Jack

One of Nicola Sturgeon’s senior ministers used false figures to boast of Scotland’s wind energy potential to foreign politicians, even after being warned that they were inaccurate.

Angus Robertson, the Scottish constitution secretary, faces charges that he has breached ministerial code after ignoring warnings from officials and repeating a discredited claim that Scotland has a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind potential.

Politicians from the Scottish National Party (SNP) have repeatedly recycled the statistic over several years in an attempt to push the case for independence.

However, officials privately raised concerns about the accuracy of the claim more than two years ago and it has since been conclusively proven to be inaccurate.

Responses to freedom of information requests show that Mr. Robertson was told to stop using it on September 28 of last year.

Yet just six days later, he mentioned the 25 percent claim in a meeting with French politicians, as part of a charm offensive abroad.

‘He ignored that advice’

Sam Taylor, chief executive of pro-UK think tank These Islands, who obtained the information via Freedom of Information responses, said: “Officials advised the Cabinet Secretary to stop using the 25 per cent claim .

“He ignored that advice, and only six days later sent the false statistic to a French government minister. That is a serious breach of ministerial code, and Angus Robertson has serious questions to answer.”

Officials had told Mr Robertson that “the claim about 25 per cent of Europe’s offshore wind resources is not well documented”, adding that they “would advise against the use of this claim”.

Ministerial diaries show that Robertson, the Scottish government’s unofficial foreign secretary, met Laurence Boone, France’s Europe minister, and Rima Abdul-Malak, French culture minister, on 4 October.

Robertson has mentioned the 25 percent statistic to foreign politicians four times, records show, most recently on the date he met French ministers.

He previously claimed that he only realized the wind figure was not true on November 8. However, Freedom of Information’s responses show that she was actually told at least six weeks earlier.

After the September 28 briefing, in which he was urged to stop using the wind figure, he quoted it in two newspaper columns and in a speech at the SNP conference.

‘Prolific peddler of this false fact’

Liam Kerr, energy spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “It is clear that Angus Robertson has been a prolific peddler of this false fact and even had the nerve to do so only days after being told not to.

“This disclosure suggests that the cabinet secretary has deliberately repeated misleading information to further his own political causes.

“Last year’s revelations show that the SNP has a long history of using dubious data to misinform the public with figures that are completely false.

“Mr. Robertson must acknowledge this, issue a public apology, and learn not to ignore evidence and accuracy going forward.”

In December, the UK Statistics Authority revealed that it was “engaging” the SNP over its “continued use” of the discredited claim that Scotland has a quarter of the offshore wind resource potential in Europe. The true figure is believed to be between four and six percent.

It was based on flimsy research that excluded green energy powerhouses like Sweden, Norway and Finland. However, the SNP continues to use the 25 percent claim on its website.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “Ministers learned of the These Islands report on 8 November. We are now working to produce an updated figure for Scotland’s offshore wind potential, which will be published in due course.”

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