New energy minister Mairi McAllan has rehashed old boasts about Scotland’s renewables’ prowess only to find a sector cheerleader highlighting uncertainty about the supposed green jobs boom.

Ms McAllan told business leaders in Glasgow that Scotland’s status as a world leader had been confirmed by moves by international investors in recent days to support development in areas such as green hydrogen and offshore infrastructure development.

Speaking at the All-Energy conference Ms McAllan noted these included the ground-breaking ceremony at Sumitomo’s planned cable plant at Nigg which she found time to attend while facing the challenges associated with helping new first minister John Swinney find his feet.

“What a week,” crowed Ms McAllan, who claimed: “Accomplishments in recent years and this week alone serve to powerfully demonstrate what I believe is the case that Scotland is fast becoming a renewables powerhouse.”

She added: “I think it’s worth noting that that progress has been made whilst pursuing a just transition for our communities and for our workforce.”

By way of evidence to support her claim Ms McAllan said a community and renewable energy scheme launched by the Scottish Government has been a “vital part of grounding this work in Scotland’s communities” by providing over £65m funding for 900 projects.

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She appeared to be referring to spending under the £500m Just Transition initiative launched by former first minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2021 after striking the Bute House power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens, which collapsed in April.

Ms McAllan did not provide any examples to demonstrate the value of the projects she referred to but insisted: “Scotland is already on the way when it comes to supporting green jobs.”

The comments were made weeks after former first minister Humza Yousaf claimed full-time employment in renewables increased from 27,000 to 42,000 “over the last year”.

The trouble was the numbers were based on an analysis of Office for National Statistics figures relating to 2021 which Strathclyde university’s Fraser of Allander Institute said came with a “moderately large” margin of error and should not be “over-interpreted”.

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Ms McAllan’s claim about jobs was undermined not long after she sat down. Speaking in the following conference session Scottish Renewables chief executive Claire Mack said the country faced a “real issue” about how it gathered statistics around the impact of the industry.

Lamenting the “unfortunate” fact that Scotland’s statistical system is not doing what is needed, Ms Mack noted this made it hard to track the effectiveness of Just Transition spending.

In March a report by MSPs said clarity was needed about the future sustainability of the Just Transition Fund after the budget allocation for 2024-25 was cut to £12m, from £50m the preceding year.

Members of the economy and fair work committee noted then: “The delays in bringing forward Scottish Government strategies, such as the Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, regional just transition plans, and the Climate Change Update are frustrating.”

The criticism highlights the fact that for all the talk about the effectiveness of its support for renewables the Scottish Government has been making energy policy on the hoof, with a focus on winning the green vote rather than delivering on related pledges.

A draft energy strategy was published in draft form in January last year following long delays. It recommended a presumption against new exploration in the North Sea despite Scotland’s reliance on oil and gas and the crucial importance of the industry to the economy.

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Ms McAllan told the All-Energy conference: “Our energy strategy and just transition plan to be published this summer will set out our vision for a future energy system that delivers affordable, secure, clean energy and delivers economic benefits to every part of Scotland.”

She said the Scottish Government will also publish a Green Industrial Strategy which will set out with “absolute clarity of expression” the investable propositions in Scotland’s energy sector.

“It will be a clear and unambiguous statement of intent providing investors with one window with which to consider Scotland … and provide the clarity that they will require.”

But just two days later Ms McAllan’s boss admitted Scotland needed ministers to focus on doing rather than on dreaming up strategies.

Mr Swinney told business leaders in Glasgow: “I will demand from my government more concrete actions and fewer strategy documents.”

Scotland has paid a high price for the Scottish Government’s failure to clear important obstacles that stand in the way of major renewables investment.

READ MORE: Scottish Government rebuked by Climate Change Committee as Just Transition spend slows

For example, developers face nightmarish delays dealing with a planning system that appears to lack the resources to deal with applications concerning windfarms and the like.

The UK’s official offshore wind champion Tim Pick noted that SSE had been unable to apply for support for the giant Berwick Bank windfarm in the latest funding round because it could not get the scheme through the planning process in time.

Perth-based SSE submitted a planning application for Berwick Bank in 2022.

SSE’s website states: “If approved for delivery, Berwick Bank could increase Scotland’s overall renewable energy capacity by nearly 30%.”

Ms McAllan, 31, told conference-goers: “We will shortly set out steps to improve resources for the planning system providing greater certainty and greater incentives for investors in Scotland.

“I want planning and consenting to be done correctly so it can be a means of protecting our environment and a key enabler of the energy transition and growing our economy.”

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Ms McAllan would have been at secondary school when the SNP took power at Holyrood in 2007, when former first minister Alex Salmond formed a minority government. SNP ministers have had plenty of time to sort out the planning system.

While renewables executives at All-Energy noted the challenges they faced dealing with the “acronym soup” of sector support bodies Ms McAllan hailed the creation of another one in the form of the Scottish Offshore Wind Ports Alliance (SOWPA).

Noting the UK Government controls key levers for the realisation of Net Zero across the country she said it must use them to act at pace to support Scotland’s goals.

SOWPA members include Port of Cromarty Firth which is in line to benefit from a UK Government contribution to the acronym jumble.

The port has made it through a key stage in the application process for the £160 million Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Scheme (FLOWMIS), which was unveiled by the UK Government in March last year.

Seven months later Humza Yousaf launched a £500m offshore wind supply chain fund.