UKIP has started mobilising in Scotland following its surge in the English local elections, unveiling the first of its frontline team ahead of next year's European poll.

After gaining 147 councillors in England and beating the Conservatives into third place in the South Shields by-election, won by Labour on a reduced majority, UKIP has announced a former Liberal Democrat and Green candidate is to become its spokesman on energy issues.

The Eurosceptic party's energy policies are essentially pro-nuclear, anti-renewables and dismissive of global warming theories, accusing the Scottish Government of "zealous implementation of EU diktats" on wind farms.

It intends to unveil more of its Scottish team in the weeks ahead, insisting they are not prospective parliamentary candidates but meant to provide expertise specific to Scotland.

UKIP's Scottish chairman, Mike Scott-Hayward, a former Tory councillor, said the party was experiencing a significant growth in membership numbers in Scotland, leading to it reorganising and setting up new branches in Orkney, Moray, Lanarkshire, the Black Isle and the Borders.

He said recent recruits include a former executive member of Young Scottish Nationalists, an independent councillor, the former deputy chairman of the Scottish Tories and disaffected Labour members.

Scottish UKIP claims immigration is less of an issue in Scotland than England, but adds that "in some areas of Glasgow and other large cities uncontrolled immigration is still important" and that the "uncontrolled nature of recent immigration is what people want addressed".

It claims oil is a "foolhardy bet on which to base an economy", says independence for Scotland would create ill will either side of a renewed border, and see the UK lose its global status.

Although UKIP wants to scrap MSPs, it says it would hold on to the Scottish Parliament, with MPs handling affairs on their doorstep three days a week and UK matters at Westminster the other two.

Scott-Hayward, a former army major and ex-coastguard officer, also said he believed membership could be "within four figures by the autumn", with some polls claiming their support is as high as 9%.

He said: "A year ago I had to put a brave face on UKIP in Scotland but on the back of Corby, Rotherham, Eastleigh, South Shields and the local elections we've seen a real surge. We've grown by 50% and people are signing up online daily.

"The number of unsolicited phone calls I alone am getting is making it difficult to cope. These elections have a currency up here and people see what we stand for.

"The party has to grow but that organisational growth has to be organic. Stirling, Perth, Ayrshire and Aberdeenshire are the next areas where we're seeing clusters of members and where they could form the nucleus of a branch.

"I think its odds-on we'll have an MEP next year and MSPs by 2015."

UKIP's first Scottish spokesman is Mike Haseler, an energy sector researcher from East Dunbartonshire. He was a Liberal Democrat candidate in Watford in the 1990s and stood for the Greens for the Holyrood elections in 2003.

He said: "I left the LibDems as I saw the damage being done to UK industry by the EU. Now, seeing how the Scottish Government's zealous implementation of the EU diktat has caused these bird-mincing wind farms to spring up everywhere, I'm sure we have to leave the EU.

"UKIP is the only party to base its energy policy on real science and almost every other country, except the EU superstate, has realised this global warming non-science is part of an anti-industry, anti-modern life obsession by extremists in society."

Dr Neil McGarvey, of Strathclyde University, said the Scottish announcements were part of UKIP's wider strategy to build on the "bounce" that this week's local election results south of the Border has given them.

He said: "If they can project themselves to be a UK-wide 'national' party it will strengthen, together with polling and election results, the legitimacy of their claim to have a place at any televised leaders' debate that may take place prior to the 2015 General Election.

"It is not that difficult to envisage Farage getting the benefit of the type of bounce that Clegg benefited from in 2010. For UKIP there's also the attraction of next year's referendum campaign which will get UK national media exposure – it's always good for a (particularly newish and growing) party to be in continual campaign mode. The energy and vitality it gains from grassroots campaigning and media exposure creates a certain momentum.

"The downside for them in Scotland is that they are entering a pretty crowded marketplace in terms of both mainstream and minority parties. Their independent impact on the referendum campaign will, I suspect, be minimal, though from the Better Together perspective they do represent something of a loose cannon."