NICOLA Sturgeon has admitted that Scotland has “not done well enough” in harnessing the economic benefits of renewable energy as she was pressed over failing to set up a public energy company.

Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Greens, pointed to the Scottish Government having “long-committed to establishing a public energy company” which she said “could provide tidal energy with the demands that it needs”.

Setting up a publicly-owned not-for-profit power company was a flagship announcement made by the First Minister at the 2017 SNP conference – but the policy was been kicked into the long grass, despite more than £400,000 being spent on the scheme’s feasibility.

In announcing the policy in 2017, the First Minister said that “energy would be bought wholesale or generated here in Scotland — renewable, of course — and sold to customers as close to cost price as possible”.

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As well as pleading with Ms Sturgeon to demand “a major increase in public investment” from Boris Johnson to help build a green recovery, Ms Slater stressed “we can still do more here in Scotland with the powers that we have, to secure a green recovery”.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, she added: “Scotland could be a world leader in marine renewable energy, but the industry was undermined by the Tory Government when it scrapped essential tariff support in 2015.

“The Scottish Government has long committed to establishing a public energy company, which could provide tidal energy with the demand that it needs.

“Tidal energy technology was developed in Scotland, we are the world experts in it, but if we don’t act now we will lose this industry to other countries.”

The First Minister insisted that “Scotland is a world leader in renewable energy”, but warned not enough progress has been made – particularly around making the most of the economic potential of the industry.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We need to do much more in terms of generating energy and ensuring that we properly seize the economic benefits that come from that.

“Candidly speaking, we have not done well enough in that area.

“There is a lot of work to be done here, and we are determined to get on with it as we lead up to the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—COP26—and then move beyond that.

“I very much look forward to working with the Greens—and, indeed, with others across the chamber—to ensure that Scotland continues to lead the world in renewable energy and in the wider transition to net zero.”