This is a generally excellent document that ignores the stupid suggestion of a referendum on planning matters, other than the deliberately vague statement "We will involve all of Scotland in the preparation of extensive and effective clean energy legislation" (p29) which is a legal requirement for a national strategy anyway.
Excellent promises on energy saving and a zero-waste Scotland (although the Comhairle already do much of what is promised) and which are pretty much replicated by all the parties, with one exception.
The commitment to current legislation is confirmed, which means that the existing windfarm proposals will be considered as they stand, and the long overdue prospect of a new strategic planning framework for renewable energy is clearly stated (p31). Opponents of windfarms are thrown the prospect of "an early review of planning", which is simply a way of kicking it into the long grass for the duration of the next parliament (p33).
But there are down sides. Renewable energy development is to be based in Aberdeen and wave and tidal power focussed on the East Coast, rather than the West, where the potential is much, much, higher. This is a serious threat to the economy of the Western Isles and hugely undermines what the Comhairle have been trying to achieve over the past eight years (p32).
Overall 7/10. Must try harder to represent the whole of Scotland.
A much more wordy publication, it appears to have been put together by a less 'trendier' design agency than that used by the SNP, but one with verbal diarrhoea. Elementary mistakes, such as repeatedly referring to CO2 rather than CO2 make it a disconcerting read for those looking for informed comment.
As with the SNP, there are pledges to incentivise and encourage individuals to act 'green' but there are the added explicit targets of 50% of all electricity generation to be from renewables by 2020 (p68). Although, there is no word of how these will be achieved.
There are loads of vague promises to make sure the polices are integrated between refuse collection, recycling, encouraging public transport, improving building standards and ending fuel poverty. All very well and good but still a bit wooly and vague.
Overall 6/10. Too much wiggle room. Good ideas flawed by a lack of specifics.
Less professional than the other two, the manifesto for the environment is apparently a wholly owned subsidiary of Nicol Stephen. Very solid commitment to 100% renewable energy from wave and tidal (p32) without the worry of having to specify how these (as yet) unproven technologies will actually come anywhere close to delivering the promised 12.5% reduction in emissions by 2010 (p30). A rock solid commitment to micro-generation (p32+34) i.e. wind turbines on every roof, but no explanation of how this will fit with planning law in conservation zones. This was an SNP policy recently, until this very question was asked.
An aspiration to see wave generation in Scotland by the end of 2007 (p36), without any explanation of how this will happen, or even if it will work. What happens if it doesn't? More money, less money, or a new policy?
Big on small measures, such as changes to the VAT regime, to encourage participation. These are admirable in themselves, but hardly earth-shattering. VAT changes require Westminster to approve them, but even then I think that this is illegal without a rewriting of the Treaty of Europe. The Canary Islands have no VAT because the Spaniards wrote that into the accession document. If the LibDems can do THAT, then lets make the Western Isles duty free for petrol.
Overall - ideas 8/10, deliverability 4/10. It's good to be in opposition, when you will never have to implement your policies.
The entire policy appears to be: "At other times, government interference has manifested itself in the inappropriate placement of on-shore wind farm developments designed to meet central objectives made in Edinburgh. We will place a moratorium on all locally-opposed wind farm developments pending a National Location Strategy for such developments. This will complement our proposals to incentivise other forms of renewable energy, like tidal power and biomass."
Good, a central policy and strategy. MWT should note that the Tories are the only party to promise an explicit moratorium on windfarms (current or prospective is unclear).
Just realised that the policy would also stop local community schemes, if some of the community objected.
Overall 3/10. Must try and stop being all things to all men.
At this point your correspondent was hospitalised with post-manifesto dementia.