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MSP calls on First Minister to lead from the front on marine energy

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has urged the First Minister to ensure government support “better reflects” the needs of the marine energy sector.

The call comes after it was revealed that the Saltire Prize — a £10 million fund launched by the former First Minister Alex Salmond in 2008 to push marine energy towards commercial success — has still not been awarded.

During First Minister’s Questions today, Mr McArthur asked Nicola Sturgeon if she believed that the Saltire Prize “will be won before the end of this parliament — or indeed ever?” The Orkney MSP also urged the First Minister to “recognise the need for the Prize to better reflect where the marine energy sector is and is likely to be over the coming years”.

In response, the First Minister said she had asked officials to work with the Saltire Prize challenge committee to “reshape” the prize so that it can continue to drive innovation and incentivise investment.

However, the First Minister refused to confirm if the Saltire Prize will be awarded by the end of the parliament.

Following the exchange, Mr McArthur said: “The £10m Saltire Prize was launched by the former First Minister in 2008 amid much fanfare. Indeed, for a while it seemed that barely a month went by without Mr Salmond relaunching it.

“As a statement of government intent and support for the marine energy sector, the prize was a valuable initiative. It also drew global attention to the world-leading work being done on marine renewables in Scotland, particularly in Orkney.

“A decade on, however, and there seems no prospect of the prize ever being won. Meanwhile, the marine energy sector’s need for government support and intent remains undiminished.

“It’s time therefore that the First Minister put in place more appropriate incentives to drive growth in a sector where Scotland still leads the way, but where competition around the world is growing. We have an opportunity to play to our strengths in marine renewables, but it will require the First Minister to lead from the front.”

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