Scotsman Letters: What are Labour's plans to maintain Scotland’s only oil refinery after 2025?

Unfortunately for Brian Wilson (The Scotsman, November, 25) on the very day he castigates the SNP on its Just transition plans, it was reported that Labour has rowed back even further and delayed its already watered down £28 billion green energy plans as they admit that can’t afford it and that it will take some time to establish the supply chains.
Grangemouth petrochemical refinery on the Firth of Forth  is the only operating crude oil refinery in ScotlandGrangemouth petrochemical refinery on the Firth of Forth  is the only operating crude oil refinery in Scotland
Grangemouth petrochemical refinery on the Firth of Forth is the only operating crude oil refinery in Scotland

As Labour expect to be in government next year and do not want any more oil exploration in the North Sea, what are their plans to maintain Scotland’s only oil refinery after 2025?

From its limited budget, the SNP has committed £500 million towards just transition in the North-east plus awarded £200,000 to Scotland's Net Zero Technology Centre to research the value of exporting green hydrogen to Germany and this month Scottish government ministers have been in discussions with the German ambassador to advance this project, which could be worth billions to Scotland's economy.

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What energy security is there when our only oil refinery is owned by a billionaire Brexiteer and the Chinese state-owned PetroChina?

Ineos and PetroChina, who also own a larger refinery in southern France, say that rather than modernising Grangemouth away from Scotland’s number one polluter, it would now become an import and distribution hub no doubt to take advantage of its freeport status, meaning deregulation, tax cuts, and cheap labour.

Scotland is the biggest oil producer in the EU but the only one without significant long-term benefits. Why is it in an energy-rich nation our consumers pay the highest standing charges in the UK and our renewable energy industries pay the highest grid connection charges in Europe? The UK’s energy policy has utterly failed Scotland.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Salmond legal case

Alex Salmond puts “a woman scorned” in the shade with his fury at Nicola Sturgeon and her former regime’s treatment of him. He is seeking damages of around £3 million from ‘the Scottish Government’.

Apart from the undoubted entertainment that this will afford those of us who always enjoy strife within the nationalist camp, what concerns many of us is this question: if Salmond wins, who pays the damages of £3 million, or some other sum? There can be no case whatsoever for the taxpayer bailing out either of the parties in this case.

This is effectively an SNP/Green matter. It is up to these parties, or perhaps to the individuals, including Nicola Sturgeon, whom Mr Salmond has named as his targets, to pay any damages from their personal or political funds.

"The people of Scotland”, about whom the SNP claims so much, did not initiate or participate in the matters under dispute. It is not for us to finance this case.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Education failures

Ten years ago, Finance Secretary John Swinney was asked how an independent Scotland would generate economic growth. His solution was immigration. Since then the UK has taken over three million net migrants, nearly half in the last two years, and the skills shortage has not materially improved.

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As recently publicised in “Building a New Scotland”, an independent Scotland would accelerate immigration and contrast with Westminster’s “hostile” migration policy given Scotland’s “population situation”. This is surely an admission of a disastrous SNP education policy since 2007.

With 40 per cent annual growth in non EU students, it’s fast approaching as many non-domicile students in our universities as from Scotland. Migrants from India and Nigeria are plugging shortages in health service skills that could have been Scots-trained while our university residences are crammed with students from India and China studying medicine, engineering and other badly-needed skills, yet over 80 per cent return within five years. Vocational training is also inadequate and the days of relying on Polish plumbers are numbered as more EU workers return.

We were told by Boris Johnson that Brexit would “take back control” and by his predecessor that net migration would fall to “tens of thousands” but 2022 saw a record 745,000.

Successive Home Secretaries have done little. Rishi Sunak admitted that restricting student dependents’ visas was the first action to control immigration for “many years”. Hardly a “hostile” migration policy, especially given students and workers from abroad doubled from 2021 to 2022 and are expected to grow this year. No wonder Sunak admits levels are unsustainable.

Instead of wanting more “New Scots” from abroad Humza Yousaf should be ashamed that since 2007 the SNP has failed domiciled Scots by not investing in key skills. Public services have consequently been decimated.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

No cash cow

Yet again, Leah Gunn Barratt perpetuates the myth that Scotland is the UK’s cash cow (Letters, November 22). Even the Scottish Government’s own figures show that Scotland receives much more in grants than it contributes thanks to the Barnett formula.

Scotland’s economy consistently grows at a lower level than the rest of the UK, and lower growth means less tax revenue which is required to support those who need it.

She also castigates the BBC for anti Scottish Government bias, but nothing could be further from the truth – the SNP and the Scottish Government consistently get away with the most appalling underperformance without anything like the scrutiny the media gives the UK Government.

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So, no – the BBC doesn’t show an anti-Scottish Government bias – it’s extremely soft on the Scottish Government, be it failure in ferries, failure to establish the Scottish energy company promised by Nicola Sturgeon, falling educational standards, laptops (not) going to schools, or cuts to Local Government.

The list of SNP failures is almost endless; Thank goodness Scotland didn’t gain independence from the UK.

Brian Barbour, Berwick Upon Tweed

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