Sturgeon faces new battle with Boris over Shetland oil field – SNP breaks ranks to defy UK

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The UK Government’s Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack, said it would be “foolish to think that we can just run away from oil and gas,” and that the Cambo oil field should “100%” be approved for drilling. This drilling could start as early as next year. However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose ruling SNP are in a coalition with the Scottish Greens in Holyrood said: “I don’t think we can go and continue to give the go ahead to new oil fields.

“So I don’t think that Cambo should get the green light.”

Cambo is a proposed oil field 75km west of the Shetland coast, believed to hold around 800 million barrels of oil.

The Scottish First Minister told Holyrood: “The presumption would be that Cambo could not and should not pass any rigorous climate assessment”.

She added: “I don’t think we can go on extracting new oil and gas forever, that is why we have moved away from the policy of maximum economic recovery.”

Her statement was lauded by the Scottish Greens, with their climate spokesperson Mark Ruskell saying: “I welcome this clarity from the First Minister.

“She is absolutely right that expanding oil and gas is folly during the pressing climate crisis.

“That’s why with Greens in government Scotland is investing in the alternatives, expanding renewable energy and decarbonising homes and transport, creating new jobs along the way.”

COP26, held on Sturgeon’s home turf, “agreed for the first time to accelerate efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies,” in the words of the EU, and placed world leaders under increasing pressure to invest in green energy.

Monica Lennon, Labour MSP, addressed Ms Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament: “There is no rigorous climate change test that Cambo can possibly pass.

“The First Minister must do more than ask the UK Government to simply reassess the proposed oil field.”

She urged Ms Sturgeon to “oppose Cambo in the strongest possible terms and provide the political leadership that has been lacking”.

Various environmental groups backed the First Minister’s antagonistic position to Westminster’s proposed oil exploration, including Friends of the Earth Scotland.

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Mary Church, from the organisation, said: “We welcome the First Minister’s acknowledgement that there is no credible climate test that the Cambo oil field could ever pass.

“This is an important progression of the Scottish Government’s position, which must now translate into clear opposition to all new fossil fuel projects.”

Greenpeace UK political adviser, Sam Chetan Welsh: “We welcome the First Minister showing leadership, listening to the science and saying no to the Cambo oil field, which has no place in the transition to Scotland’s low-carbon future.

“Hopefully this, on top of the many similar comments from scientists, energy experts and leaders around the globe, clarifies the situation for the Prime Minister.”

The First Minister had warned the UK Government to rethink their plans for further oil exploration over the increasing unpopularity of new fossil fuel initiatives.

The First Minister said: “I have set out a proposal for a climate assessment and I think the presumption would be that Cambo couldn’t and shouldn’t pass any rigorous climate assessment.”

However, the ultimate decision rests with the central UK government in Westminster.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative MSP criticised Ms Sturgeon’s position, saying: “By refusing to back the Cambo development, the SNP have deserted the industry they once cited as the cornerstone of their economic case for independence.”

Mr Kerr, the Holyrood energy spokesperson, added: “Egged on by Labour, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that she is against the Cambo field and the thousands of Scottish jobs it would protect.”

He commented: “Only the Scottish Conservatives are resolute in standing up for the livelihoods of oil and gas workers in Scotland as we transition to net zero.”

However, Oil and Gas UK, trade association for the industry, said that the Cambo oil field is the only way for the UK to not require imports from abroad.

Oil and Gas UK external relations director, Jenny Stanning, said: “While we are accelerating greener energies to help ensure Scotland achieves net zero by 2045, we’ll still need oil and gas as those technologies are scaled up, to avoid the lights going out.

“Stopping our own production means we’d simply have to import it from Russia, Qatar and other countries at a bigger cost to the taxpayer, jobs and the environment.”

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