IN the heart of the North East of Scotland, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and Moray endure a profound paradox – these regions host the vast majority of the UK’s oil and gas reserves and lead the country in renewable energy production, yet we suffer from some of the highest energy prices in the UK. This injustice manifests the broader systemic neglect of the North East by the UK Government and their failure to govern responsibly, an inequity that Scottish independence can remedy.

Despite Scotland accounting for an impressive 85% of the UK’s total oil and gas production, 96% of its crude oil, and 71% of natural gas, Scotland’s regions, specifically Aberdeen and the North East, have never received a fair return on our resource contributions.

Instead, the revenues generated are disproportionately invested into London and the South East of England, where their priorities will always remain. So, while Scotland’s energy-rich territories languish in economic stagnation due to UK Government incompetence. Scotland’s remarkable, yet almost untapped potential in renewable energy further exemplifies the UK Government’s abandonment of our region while the Scottish Government has shown its commitment to our region with the setup of the £500m Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray.

There have been repeated calls for the UK Government to give a small portion of what the North East is due by matching the Scottish Government’s £500m funding. Predictably, these calls have been lost to the wind, much like their promises during and since our referendum nine years ago.

Scottish independence, however, would position Scotland to fully capitalise on our vast abundance of natural resources. To put it into perspective, did you know that if an independent Scotland re-joined the EU that it would double the EU’s total oil reserves?

Imagine proceeds from our natural resources being directly reinvested into the local and regional economies of the North East. It’s become almost unthinkable because we have become accustomed to being systematically asset-stripped while financially propping up a declining UK, very carefully stage-managed by the UK Government.

In 2021, 85.2% of Scotland’s electricity consumption came from renewables generated here, more than double the 38.1% in England and Wales. Proper investment here would mean Aberdeen and the North East being fast-tracked in becoming the net-zero capital of the world due to our renewable energy capabilities – we just need the full powers of independence to do so. Scotland currently hosts 8.015% of the UK’s population but supports 66% of the UK’s total onshore wind jobs.

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It begs the question, with Scotland being such an energy-rich nation, why are we paying the highest prices in the UK for the energy that we are producing the most of? The impact of this exploitation is glaringly evident in the energy bills of Scottish households. In February 2022, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) highlighted the gross disparity, stating that Scottish properties paid 40-50% more on energy bills than those in London. This imbalance is not only unjust but also detrimental to the Scottish economy, with businesses in Scotland seeing increases of up to 500% on their 2023 energy bills.

Scottish independence can resolve this paradox. As an independent nation, Scotland could harness our energy resources for the benefit of our people, reducing energy bills and facilitating sustainable economic growth. Yes, we currently have a Scottish Government that is committed to representing the people who live here – albeit with limited powers and an increasingly thinning budget – however, we also have a UK Government actively working against the interests of our citizens and the future prosperity of our nation.

It’s not hard for me to imagine a North East where businesses thrive thanks to fair energy prices, where households no longer need to worry about escalating bills, where investment in local economies is a reality, not an empty promise. Knowing the economic capabilities of our nation, I envision a Scotland that stands as a beacon of renewable energy, fuelling not just its homes and industries, but propelling the world towards a more sustainable future – Aberdeen will be at the heart of that.

This is not a distant dream but a tangible reality within our grasp. Scottish independence can turn this vision into a lived experience for the people of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the North East region, and indeed, for all of Scotland. Our potential is immense, our resources vast, and our determination unwavering. A brighter, more prosperous future awaits, and it begins with Scottish independence