Ian Blackford labels UK Government 'active barrier' over carbon capture decision

Ian Blackford has labelled the UK Government an “active barrier” to renewables amid the carbon capture row.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.

The SNP Westminster leader criticised the Prime Miniister as it emerged that Scotland will miss out on funding for a new carbon capture facility, despite meeting eligibility criteria.

Speaking during PMQs, Mr Blackford also demanded a ring-fenced budget for tidal stream energy is needed in order to save the industry from being lost.

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He said: “It’s bad enough that this UK Government is holding back carbon capture in Scotland, but, across the board, they are proving an active barrier to renewable energy opportunities.

“Tidal stream energy has the potential to generate 20% of UK generation capacity, exactly the same as nuclear. All this industry needs is a ring-fenced budget of £71 million, a drop in the ocean compared to the £23 billion that this Government is throwing at the nuclear plants.

“So, at the very least Prime Minister, stand up and guarantee a ring-fenced budget for tidal stream energy and save this renewable industry from being lost overseas.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted he is putting huge amounts of money into green energy, adding: “I congratulate him on raising tidal, I’ve seen the amazing projects that are under way and we are certainly looking at it.

“We are putting huge sums, which I think the House can acknowledge, into clean, green energy. He’s far too gloomy about the prospects in Aberdeen.”

The Acorn Project at St Fergus in Aberdeenshire had hoped to be ready by the middle of the decade but is now likely to come in the second phase of the UK’s carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) cluster sequencing process.

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It was announced yesterday the first development is set to be built on the Humber and around Liverpool instead.

Mr Blackford, who appeared to have lost his voice, also questioned Mr Johnson over the carbon capture decision, labelling the move “devastating”.

He said: “In 11 short days, world leaders will gather in Glasgow for Cop26. This is our best chance and very likely the last chance to confront the climate emergency faced by our planet.

“We know this decision was not made on technical and logical rules. This devastating decision was purely political.

“Scotland northeast was promised this investment in 2014. It is a promise that has been broken, time and time again. So will the Prime Minister finally live up to those promises or are they simply not worth the Tory election leaflets they are written on?”

The Prime Minister replied: “We remain absolutely committed to helping industrial clusters to decarbonise across the whole of the country and, of course, including Scotland, and I know that there was disappointment about the Acorn bid in Aberdeen, and that’s why it has been selected as a reserve cluster.”

On Tuesday, energy minister Greg Hands said about the Acorn Project: “We are also announcing the Scottish Cluster as a reserve cluster if a back-up is needed.

"A reserve cluster is one which met the eligibility criteria and performed to a good standard against the evaluation criteria.

“As such, we will continue to engage with the Scottish Cluster throughout Phase-2 of the sequencing process, to ensure it can continue its development and planning.”