Tories accuse SNP of 'selling out Scotland' over Cambo and North Sea oil and gas

The Scottish Government’s stance on the future of extraction at Cambo is still unclear after SNP ministers avoided voting on the future of the controversial oilfield.

In Holyrood, MSPs overwhelmingly rejected a Scottish Conservative motion calling on the Scottish Parliament to back new oil and gas projects including Cambo following a debate on the future of the industry.

However, in the amended motion passed by MSPs due to backing from cooperation partners the Scottish Greens, the SNP once again failed to articulate clearly whether it opposed extraction in the Cambo oil field, despite backbenchers expressing their opposition to future extraction.

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MSPs voted 68 to 55 in favour of a Scottish Government amendment to the motion brought forward by Scottish Conservative MSP, Liam Kerr, which had attempted to drive a wedge between the two parties in government.

The Scottish Conservatives forced a vote on the future of the oil and gas industryThe Scottish Conservatives forced a vote on the future of the oil and gas industry
The Scottish Conservatives forced a vote on the future of the oil and gas industry

Instead of voting in favour of all new gas and oil extraction, including Cambo, MSPs backed calls to “reassess all existing licenses” for undeveloped fields and for a just transition in the industry.

However, this was criticised by the Scottish Conservatives who said the SNP’s position “sells out Scotland”.

Closing the debate, north east Scotland MSP and former co-leader of Aberdeen City council, Douglas Lumsden, accused cabinet secretary for net zero, Michael Matheson, of sitting on the fence on the issue.

He said: "What we see from the SNP is more deflect, dither and delay. The cabinet secretary is sitting on what must be an uncomfortable fence trying to please everyone but actually pleasing no-one.

"The SNP motion before us is to appease the Greens and nothing else, it sells out Scotland and it sells out Aberdeen.

"It will please China and Russia who will benefit no end.”

Mr Lumsden also claimed the Cambo field would lead to at least 1,000 direct jobs and more in the supply chain, alongside £1bn of capital investment into the UK over the next five years.

He told the chamber: “Just now we have a choice, protecting thousands of jobs in this country but also regulate how it is produced...and ensuring that production is carried out with the lowest possible carbon footprint.

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"We will support jobs, we will welcome investment, we do support a cleaner, greener energy sector and we will not abandon the people of the north east of Scotland.”

This was rejected by the just transition minister Richard Lochhead who called on the Scottish Conservatives to “reinvent themselves” and back a just transition.

He said: “We should be focusing on the just transition and the energy transition which is the biggest part of that transition given the reliance of jobs on the energy sector in this country.

"This is a massive opportunity for our economy and for the future of Scotland, not only to create 100,000 jobs here but to export our expertise and our knowledge from particularly the oil and gas industry to the rest of the planet and economies around the world.”

Scottish Labour’s net zero spokesperson, Monica Lennon, criticised inaction from the government and called for them to “get off the fence”.

Stating that extraction at Cambo would be “another nail in the coffin of our dying planet” and said going ahead with the oilfield would be a “betrayal of future generations”.

Mark Ruskell, the Scottish Green MSP, added that Cambo would be “superfluous” to Scotland’s energy needs and “utterly incompatible with the Paris Agreement”.

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