WHY does the British establishment hang on to Scotland if it’s the economic basket case that it claims? Of course, there are the geo-political implications of the breakup of the UK – loss of status, including potentially historic rights such as an automatic place on the UN Security Council.

There’s also undoubtedly residual sentiment, even if social links would not only remain but arguably improve.

Fundamentally, though, the reason is that Scotland is a resource to be enjoyed and exploited. One where the wonderful natural environment is to be enjoyed by those with significant wealth on their shooting estates. It’s a place maybe for city breaks or to send their kids to university.

But primarily it’s for Scotland’s energy resources to be exploited as the engine of the UK economy. Firstly, it was through Scotland’s oil and gas discovery in the 1960s and still going strong, despite repeated pronouncements of its demise.

Now it’s also to be through Scotland’s second great natural bounty of renewables.

We’re a resource to be enjoyed and exploited even if the reality is that an energy-rich Scotland is a country of fuel-poor Scots.

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That was brought home to me last week attending a briefing at Westminster by ESO – that’s the acronym for the new organisation entitled the Electricity System Operator, established to move electricity around the country.

It neither generates nor sells it. Its role is simply to ensure supply.

Actually, its full name is National Grid ESO and its part of National Grid plc, the privatised operator for the national grid, now largely owned by foreign investors.

It already operates the grid in the rest of the UK and will be charged with overseeing ScottishPower Energy Networks and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, which operate it in north of the border. It will be regulated by Ofgem and ultimately the UK Department for Energy and Net Zero.

All very good you might think, given the UK energy, let alone electricity, network is dysfunctional following privatisation and corporate demand rules the roost, rather than any national strategic interest.

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This presumably is an attempt to address some of that. The briefing was a prelude to the announcement of ESO’s Transnational Centralised Strategic Network Plan (TCSNP) for ESO improvement of the energy and electricity supply across Britain. But the reality will be that it’s to move Scotland’s renewable bounty south.

Again, there’s some logic in the proposals as Scotland produces more energy than we can possibly consume and that’s only going to increase. Meanwhile urban areas in England are desperate to consume it.

We also have the absurdity of almost 17% of turbine capacity switched off annually as there’s no grid capacity, storage ability or alternative use available such as hydrogen production.

Worse than that, suppliers are paid a premium to stop the blades turning – more than they receive for delivering power.

But where’s the revenue for Scotland and its citizens? This will largely go south with not a bawbee of a remittance here. Crown Estate Scotland receives a paltry remittance for cables crossing the foreshore as the leviathan turbines off our shores power up.

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Communities on shore will receive a pittance from them, along with little more from those on our hills. Community benefits are welcomed by hard-pressed towns and villages but it’s a fraction of the profits being made by the corporations which own them.

The briefing confirmed that Scotland’s increasing renewable energy production, both on and offshore, will see significantly increased cabling of the asset south.

There are already plans for two high-voltage direct current (HDVC) cables taking energy from Scotland’s east coast south to sites in England, one from near Peterhead to Drax, the other from near Torness to Redcar. There’s also one on the west coast from Hunterston to Connah’s Quay in North Wales.

Additionally, Berwick Bank, a planned offshore wind farm at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, and which alone will produce enough energy to power more households than there are in Scotland, is to have 40% of its production cabled directly south to Blyth in Northumberland.

What National Grid ESO briefed was an expansion of even that current huge resource transfer. Additional HDVC cables are planned and there’s also to be an onshore spine.

The National: Electricity pylons

Most of the additional offshore cabling network will be on the east coast. After all the bulk of the proposed offshore wind developments are there, initially anyway. Some developments will cable electricity directly from Scottish waters to sites in England.

There’s also to be a land route running from north-east Scotland down the east coast, through the Borders and ending in Merseyside.

Most, if not all, will be carried by pylons, given costs. ESO has a duty to consider environmental aspects along with other criteria. There could be issues with siting but fundamentally the issue is what is Scotland getting for its natural resource? We have the current absurdity with our first natural bounty that Scotland faces becoming the only major oil producer without a refinery capacity if Grangemouth is allowed to close.

What ESO confirms with its plan is that the second great Scottish bounty is also about to be taken with little or no recompense. Revenue from the renewables blessing bestowed upon Scotland will be all but absent and work and supply chain contracts will largely going south or abroad.

Nothing makes the case for independence more than an energy-rich nation whose people endure Fuel Poverty. It’s why the push for independence is needed now. Those in government in Scotland have a duty to protect what we have, as well as articulating what we should have.