First Minister Alex Salmond greeted the 77th SNP Conference in Inverness and welcomed party members, delegates and friends to the Highlands.
This is the first ever conference where the SNP hold a majority Government in Scotland, and the First Minister told the packed theatre at Eden Court that change was coming.
He said: “The SNP gather in great spirits as first ever majority Government of Scotland, with an unprecedented mandate based on our record, team and vision for Scotland which won us the historic election in May.
“The world is watching Scotland, as we gather for our biggest ever conference, with more international interest than at any previous conference – diplomats from more than 20 nations among over 2,000 party members and guests gathering in Inverness this week.
“We thank the people of Scotland for the faith and trust they have placed in the SNP in Government.
“As well as our renewed mandate – and our record membership – the SNP now has all the momentum in Scottish politics as we build towards the independence referendum.
“A change is coming, and the people are eager for progress for Scotland – something that none of the unionist parties acknowledge or allow for.
“And Scotland’s vast energy reserves can power our future as an independent nation. Fuel poverty amid such energy plenty in Scotland makes it essential that our national Parliament gains responsibility for the nation’s abundant resources.
“Today’s visit to Nigg is just one example of that enormous energy potential, with the announcement by the Global Energy Group (GEG) that it has bought the mothballed fabrication yard – the plan is for 2,000 jobs at Nigg by 2015, serving the North Sea oil industry and the renewable sector.
“Also today we have the announcement by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) that they intend to test their new tidal energy system in Scottish waters – at the world-leading European Marine Energy centre (EMEC) in Orkney.
“The SNP Government’s efforts to secure such investment from around the world stand in stark contrast to the lack of commitment to Scotland’s energy future from the UK Govt – as with their shameful decision to pull out of the Longannet carbon capture project.
“Oil revenues are running at record levels – with North Sea oil set to be around for “many, many years” to come according to David Cameron – we are leading the global revolution in clean, green renewable energy, and we can and should be at the cutting-edge of pioneering carbon capture technology.
“All of that massive potential means Scotland must gain responsibility for our own resources with independence.
“And with the support of growing numbers of Scots, of all ages and all backgrounds, this can be the independence generation.”