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Labour accused of trying to let Tories ‘off the hook’ over carbon capture bid

The Acorn carbon capture and storage project is based at the St Fergus Gas Terminal.

Labour has been accused of trying to “let the Tories off the hook” by asking Nicola Sturgeon to spend £500 million on a carbon capture scheme snubbed by Westminster.

The UK Government has faced widespread criticism since choosing to reject the Scottish Cluster’s bid, which includes the Acorn Project in Aberdeenshire.

Ian Murray, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary, has written to the first minister suggesting the Scottish Government work with UK counterparts to jointly deliver the scheme.

In his letter, the Scottish MP, says there “can be no better use” of a previously announced £500m Just Transition Fund than supporting the carbon capture and storage programme in the north-east.

Ian Murray.

He added that “if the Scottish Government acts quickly, it can work with the UK Government to give Acorn financial support in order to grow alongside track 1 of the programme”.

However, Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn hit out at Labour for trying to “let the Tories off the hook on this mess”.

He added: “As far as I can see they are suggesting that the Scottish Government should blast the entire Energy Transition Fund on half a project without even knowing if the Tories will stump up the rest of the cash, or even grant any necessary licenses.

“If Labour want to be relevant they need to start fighting Scotland’s corner – and that starts with demanding that the UK Government give back to our region some of the £350billion they have raked in from our oil industry.”

Scottish Cluster decision

A debate will be held in the Scottish Parliament next week on the future of carbon capture and storage in Scotland, following the snub by the UK Government.

Banff and Buchan SNP MSP Karen Adam, who will take part in the debate, claimed “overlooking the Acorn Project has been a political choice by the UK Government”.

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month urging him to reverse the Scottish Cluster decision.

However, Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid said the “constant negativity and doom-mongering from the SNP is really not helpful”.

He pointed to comments made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday in which he said carbon capture has a “great future in Scotland”.

David Duguid, MP for Banff and Buchan.

Mr Duguid added: “By comparison, the SNP government has been talking about its transition fund for months, but has been unable to identify where and how that will be spent.

“I understand the UK energy minister, Greg Hands has briefed Ian Blackford and Ian Murray to explain the sequencing process.

“Both of Scotland’s governments need to back the Scottish cluster, leaving politics behind.”

Just Transition

A Scottish Government spokesman said the UK Government’s “surprising and disappointing decision” not to award the Scottish Cluster track-1 status is a “serious mistake which shows a clear lack of ambition and leadership on climate change”.

He added: “This illogical decision significantly compromises our ability to take crucial near-term action to reduce emissions – not just in Scotland, but across the UK.

“We remain convinced that the Scottish Cluster can play a vital role in our just transition to net zero and our first priority remains on pressing the UK Government to accelerate the Scottish Cluster to full Track-1 status.

“We have already offered to collaborate with the UK Government in supporting the Cluster on several occasions, including offering the Treasury the option to deploy funding from our Emerging Energy Technologies Fund (EETF).

“We stand ready to deliver on this commitment despite no response to this offer having been received to date.”

The spokesman confirmed that details of the Just Transition Fund – which they have called on the UK Government to match – will be released “in due course”.

A UK Government spokesman said: “The Acorn project has already been allocated over £40m in development funding by the UK Government in recent years, and we want to make sure the cluster can get maximum value from this support going forward.

“The strong potential of the Scottish Cluster has been confirmed by the bidding process – which is just the start.

“This is good news for the future competitiveness of Scotland’s industry, and we will work with the Scottish Cluster to help continue their development.”