Scottish Conservatives to force vote on future of Cambo oilfield

Douglas Ross will attempt to back the SNP into a corner by forcing a vote on the future of the oil and gas industry in Holyrood later this week.

The Scottish Conservatives have laid a motion as part of their opposition time in Holyrood that calls for MSPs to support “new oil and gas projects”, including the controversial Cambo oil field due to the sector’s support of “tens of thousands of Scottish jobs”.

However, the Scottish Greens labelled the motion “misleading” and said Mr Ross’s party was effectively labelling scientists as “extremists”.

The motion is likely to fail as the Scottish Conservatives are the only party to openly support extraction at Cambo.

The Scottish Conservatives want Holyrood to back new exploration of oil and gas in Scottish waters.

The SNP, Greens, and Scottish Labour are all likely to vote against the motion.

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The Scottish Liberal Democrats are also telling constituents they oppose the oil field. One email seen by The Scotsman states that party representatives should tell constituents the Cambo oil field should not proceed.

Nicola Sturgeon has called on the licence for the oil field to be “reassessed”, but has fallen short of openly opposing development of the site.

Net zero spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, Liam Kerr, said the vote will show whether the Scottish Government still backs the oil and gas sector.

He said: “We are bringing forward a vote on future North Sea projects, including the Cambo field, so that the Scottish Parliament can have its say on the importance of Scotland’s oil and gas industry during our transition to net zero.

“Nicola Sturgeon has already said future projects should be ‘reassessed’ and [Greens co-convener] Patrick Harvie has boasted of shifting the SNP’s position on oil. The North East deserves to know if the Scottish Government still supports this vital industry and the 100,000 jobs it supports.

“The SNP have a choice – side with the North East economy or the extremist Greens.

"They can either back a sensible transition to net zero that limits the need to import costly energy from abroad. Or they can be upfront that they favour a radical shift to end Scotland’s oil and gas industry quickly, which would likely harm our environment.

“As the SNP used to shout, it’s Scotland’s oil. We are far better off using our own energy than paying higher prices to import from abroad, where the environmental protections are lower and the carbon cost is higher.”

Reacting, climate spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, Mark Ruskell, said the Conservatives had resorted to calling the party “names from the sidelines”.

He said: “The Scottish Conservatives clearly do not understand the meaning of the word transition. We are investing in jobs in alternative industries, while the Tories call us names from the sidelines.

“Expanding oil and gas production is the opposite of a transition and it is misleading to the communities who rely on this industry for jobs and livelihoods to suggest otherwise.

"The UN general secretary himself has called for no more expansion in fossil fuels and the UK Government’s own advisers the Committee on Climate Change told MSPs the case has not been made.

"It appears the Scottish Conservatives are willing to call them extremists too, rather than provide a real future for Scotland’s communities.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are wholly committed to ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045, and to ensuring we do it in a way that is just and leaves no-one behind.

"That is why the First Minister has called for a four nations summit to be convened in order to discuss how we can work together, both in the run up to COP26 and beyond, to ensure that we provide clear leadership to ensure a just transition to net zero that does not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

The spokesperson added: “The oil and gas sector has a positive role to play in our journey to net zero. Indeed, we are clear that the North Sea has a vibrant future in renewable energy, hydrogen, and carbon capture utilisation and storage.

"Meeting our climate obligations while ensuring a secure energy supply and supporting our highly skilled workforce to transition to the green jobs of the future must all go hand in hand.”

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