ENERGY minister Fergus Ewing has stepped up calls for the UK Government to meet a commitment to support the development of renewable power on Scotland's islands.

He accused the Conservatives of having an "ideological obsession" against renewable energy and said it was "scandalous" that major projects were being held up.

On Saturday, The Herald revealed growing concerns within Scotland's renewable sector that the Department for Energy and Climate Change was preparing to ditch promised subsidies needed to open up the islands to large-scale wind power generation.

DECC insisted it remained committed to clearing the additional subsidies with the European Commission but refused to say whether it had begun the necessary formal processes.

Without extra support, wind farm developments remain stuck in limbo because it is not economic for generating companies to install the transmission infrastructure required to export the power.

Mr Ewing said: "It is frankly scandalous that jobs and investment in the islands are being jeopardised because of the Tories’ ideological obsession against renewable energy.

"The SNP has consistently called upon the UK government to take necessary and swift action to ensure that the renewables ambition of Orkney and Shetland is realised in full.

"And we have stood firmly behind Scotland’s renewables industry and set ambitious targets on carbon reduction which have received international acclaim."

He added: "For the people of Orkney and Shetland the waiting game is over.

"It’s time for David Cameron to fulfil his promises and unlock the huge potential for Orkney and Shetland to lead the world on renewables."

He spoke out as SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon began an election campaign visit to the Northern Isles.

She will be joined by islands minister Derek McKay during the two-day trip.

She said: "Our island communities are part of the fabric of Scotland, and after years of neglect by the previous Labour/Lib Dem Executive the SNP Government has done everything we can to support them.

"I’ll be setting out key commitments for Scotland’s islands during my visit – as well as learning more about what islanders want from their government."