The SNP has accused the UK Government of delivering another “kick in the teeth” to the north-east by snubbing calls to match a £500 million offer to help the region’s transition to a post-oil economic future.
Four local MPs wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge him to “step-up and match” the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Fund for the north-east and Moray.
However, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has now dodged the question when replying on behalf of the prime minister.
Instead, the Conservative MP highlighted a series of other investments promised by the UK Government, including the North Sea Transition Deal, which he described as a “global exemplar”, and a £125 million pledge in the Aberdeen city region deal.
The letter to Mr Johnson – which was sent last month as a similar call was being made by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes – was signed by Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn, Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman, Gordon MP Richard Thomson, and Angus MP Dave Doogan.
‘Simply does not care’
Mr Flynn said the response compounded the blow dealt to the north-east after it was announced this week that the Acorn carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) project at St Fergus had missed out in the first round of funding to develop the pioneering clean energy technology.
“The Tories betrayed the north-east on carbon capture and Alister Jack’s refusal to match fund the Scottish Government’s Just Transition cash is yet another kick in the teeth from a Tory government that simply does not care about our region,” he said.
“The Scottish Government committed £500m for our communities in Aberdeen and the wider north-east to support a Just Transition, but despite taking in some £350billion of oil revenues over the decades the UK Government are nowhere to be seen.
“With his response Alister Jack has once again shown that he’s Westminster’s man in Scotland, rather than Scotland’s man in Westminster.”
In his letter, Mr Jack highlighted the UK Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund and the £220 million Community Renewal Fund.
He said: “I am pleased to say that both of these funds have attracted considerable interest from local authorities in the north-east.”
On the Acorn scheme, UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord said: “The strong potential of the Acorn project has been confirmed by the bidding process.
“That’s good news for the future and, while I know the bid team will be disappointed not to have made the first cut, it’s encouraging that the Scottish Cluster is a reserve and I’m confident it will continue to develop and compete for the next round of funding.
Scotland has a world-leading energy sector and the UK Government will continue to invest in its future.”
“To date, the UK Government has allocated £31m supporting the development of the scheme and it remains a key player in meeting ambitious carbon capture goals that would see 20-30 megatonnes of carbon dioxide stripped out by 2030.
“Scotland has a world-leading energy sector and the UK Government will continue to invest in its future.”