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by Louise Wilson
13 August 2021
Douglas Ross accuses Nicola Sturgeon of ‘provoking grievance’ amid Cambo row

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Douglas Ross accuses Nicola Sturgeon of ‘provoking grievance’ amid Cambo row

Douglas Ross has accused the First Minister of “playing childish political games” over the Cambo oil field development.

The Scottish Conservative leader said Cambo, and the North Sea oil sector more broadly, could continue to deliver jobs in the years ahead while the industry transitions to net zero.

And he warned that a failure to support the sector in Scotland would only result in more fossil fuels being imported from abroad.

Nicola Sturgeon yesterday wrote to the Prime Minister, urging him to review all existing oil and gas licences where development has not taken place.

This would include the site off the west coast of Shetland.

But Ross has said this was motivated by the potential deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens rather than climate ambitions.

In a letter to Sturgeon, Ross wrote: “You have adopted a position to seal a nationalist deal with the Greens and to provoke a grievance with the UK Government in the run up to COP26.

“The oil and gas industry has already made substantial moves towards net zero. In fact, they have more detailed plans for reaching net zero than the SNP government which, despite your rhetoric, has missed its climate change targets for three years running.

“If only your government worked constructively with the industry, and with other businesses across Scotland, those targets could be met.”

Pressure has been mounting on Sturgeon in recent days to publicly oppose the extraction of oil from the Cambo site, including from Labour, the Greens and environmental charities.

An exploration licence for the field, which contains more than 800m barrels of oil, was granted in 2001.

However, the Oil and Gas Authority is still considering whether to give approval for extraction which would last until 2047.

Sturgeon’s letter to Boris Johnson stopped short of opposing extraction from the site.

She wrote: “Such licences - some of them issued many years ago - should be reassessed in light of the severity of the climate emergency we now face, and against a robust compatibility checkpoint that is fully aligned with our climate change targets and obligations.”

The UK Government has said the oil and gas industry must continue to be supported throughout the transition phase.

A spokesperson said: “Even though demand for fossil fuels is falling and we continue to break records on our use of renewable energy, the advice of the independent Climate Change Committee is that we will continue to need oil and gas in the coming years as it is still vital to the production of many everyday essentials like medicines.

“We have already ended support for fossil fuels overseas, and are already designing a climate compatibility checkpoint which will ensure any future licences will only be granted if they are aligned with the UK’s climate change objectives.”

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