David Watt: Allow fracking and GM crops

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I have been really disappointed by recent government announcements that could have a really negative impact on the nation’s economic growth.

In Scotland we are delaying fracking, despite its potential to provide sustainable cheap energy – something that would particularly benefit those on lower incomes, a key Scottish Government target.

On what basis was this decision taken? Yes, we need to be cautious. But a moratorium will only put us well behind others in the pace of development.

Set this beside the dreadful UK government decision to remove support to the renewables sector, without warning and far too quickly. Together, these political decisions increase energy pressures on business.

Then last week we heard of a plan to ban genetically modified crops. Again there is no substantial evidence and this appears to be another politically-motivated 

The proposed ban flies in the face of Scotland’s reputation as a country where world-leading research takes place and which, now it has been established, needs to be retained if we are to stay in the top flight both of research funding and practical improvement of our food supplies.

The argument of protecting our excellent food and drink industry is perverse. It will also add pressure on our hard-pressed agriculture industry.

The worst thing about all of these decisions is the message they send out. A message of Scotland not being open-minded and attractive for business. At present, from a distance, we must seem to be more about economic prevention rather than economic development.

How about some evidence-based policy? We even seem to be struggling to recruit a chief scientific adviser. Could this be because they suspect that their advice will be ignored, and politics will be the master?

We are never going to solve our economic problems like this.

How about innovation and investment? How about utilising our global Scots? How about real investigative, possibly critical, research into the problems with business start-ups, not “Baroness” Mone doing another PR stunt!

If we keep doing the same old thing we will just get the same results. Just look at our productivity and our exporting statistics.

David Watt is executive director at Institute of Directors Scotland