This wasn’t a charm offensive, or even a respect agenda. Instead, it was a “know yer place Jock, yer getting nowt” declaration.
It’s a bitter blow for Scotland, not just its north-east, and shows that post-Brexit Britain is Little England writ large with Scotland just a theme park to plunder for its natural resources and enjoy the odd visit.
All the signs indicated that not only was St Fergus well placed but, of all the potential sites, it was the best placed. It had been touted and been betrayed before. Firstly, by a Labour government in 2007 when early plans to develop carbon capture and storage were abandoned by Ed Miliband. Then in 2015, David Cameron’s Tory government, still basking in his early green genuflection, pulled out of a further and even better developed scheme.
But back came St Fergus once more this year and again with the support of both local industry and the wider oil and gas sector. Two near misses, it was assumed by many that St Fergus was a shoo-in for selection.
It, after all, was better prepared having been through the past iterations and plans, and it was located in the home patch of the oil and gas industry for whom carbon capture has such importance for future developments. No wonder that the likes of Sir Ian Wood were bemused and devastated. Better placed and better suited, it mattered not a jot.
Nor did the fact that the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit is about to commence in Scotland. Glasgow’s a useful location to place the hassle of the event but the jobs and bounty for tackling climate change will go to England.
Even the limited success of the Scottish Tories in the north-east carried no sway. Douglas Ross and his cronies must have been hopeful and privately they were talking it up.
But the Scottish Tories don’t matter in post-Brexit Britain. You’d have thought that throwing a bone to Douglas Ross and allowing Tory MPs and MSPs to claim some British dividend would have been in their plans. But no.
Instead, the land-owning Scottish Secretary of State was rolled out to soak it up and the likes of Ross were directed to just thole it. Scotland doesn’t matter when you’ve Red Wall seats to shore up and hence the sites picked were in the north of England.
Scotland saw its oil and gas bounty go south. There’s still more in the North Sea to extract – even if much will have to remain to address climate change.
But carbon capture offers opportunities to continue development which will be needed. We require to transition to renewable sources of energy but that still requires fossil fuel. Better to use our own fuel than import it.
It’s clear evidence that there’s no future for Scotland in post-Brexit Britain. An industrial future for Scotland requires independence.