SNP ministers criticised over delay to new energy strategy

SNP ministers have been criticised for delaying a new energy strategy as Scotland seeks to transition away from fossil fuels.

Net zero, energy and transport secretary Michael Matheson said the plan, which was due in the spring, has now been pushed back to the autumn.

It comes as trade body Offshore Energies UK, formerly Oil and Gas UK, warned the UK would have to import the vast majority of its oil and gas from overseas unless billions of pounds are invested in the North Sea.

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Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesman Liam McArthur said the delay was "disappointing and will do nothing to help our chances of tackling the climate emergency".

Responding to a written question from SNP MSP Jackie Dunbar in Holyrood, Mr Matheson said ministers were working to deliver a draft energy strategy and just transition plan “in the context of a fast-moving energy landscape”.

He said: “The revised timeline will allow time for robust evidence and analysis to be produced and take account of ongoing projects, which are progressing at pace in response to the rapidly evolving global energy environment.

"The UK Government is due to produce an energy security strategy, which has been postponed, and we will also need to take this into consideration for Scotland’s energy strategy.

"Securing a just transition for our energy sector is a non-negotiable aspect of our journey to net zero and the timeline will enable an extensive stakeholder engagement programme, ensuring we create a just transition plan that is truly collaborative in its approach and design.

"The extended timescale will also allow stakeholders more time to engage in the process.”

Mr McArthur said the delay was “all too familiar from SNP-Green ministers who are world leaders in patting themselves on the back, but deniers when it comes to setting out the detail of how to achieve our climate ambitions”.

He said: “No wonder Scotland has consistently missed its climate change targets.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats believe that Scotland needs a green industrial revolution to ramp up production of clean energy, insulate every home and ensure that those currently working in the oil and gas industry are supported to transition to new roles.

“From our islands, which have a track record of being at the forefront of renewable energy innovation, to the decades of offshore experience in the North East and the engineering yards of Fife and Glasgow, this is as close to a win-win opportunity as the Scottish Government are ever going to be offered.

"These delays do nothing to help achieve those goals."

Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr said: “This delay shows the SNP-Green Government were looking for a quick headline when they announced their so-called just transition plan, which actually has no plan in it whatsoever.

“We also still have absolutely no detail about where the first £20 million of the just transition fund is going because the coalition itself doesn’t even know.

“This is why I have submitted a written question to ask if the release of this funding will also now be delayed alongside the plan.

“The sector and our local authorities deserve better than being fed false promises by ministers who want to shut down our oil and gas industry.”

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