Most Scots think North Sea energy firms benefit the economy, a poll has suggested, and the UK should work to supply its own oil and gas.
Some 61% of adults in Scotland think the energy firms operating in British waters have a positive effect on the UK economy, according to Survation research for True North released on Tuesday.
Just over 9% of the 1,009 people asked said it had a negative effect, while some 75% of people told the pollster the UK should meet its demand for oil and gas from domestic production rather than importing energy from overseas.
Just 11% said it should import to meet demand, while 14% said they did not know.
Fergus Mutch, managing partner at advisory firm True North, said: “Energy firms operating in the North Sea have been much vilified by governments over the past year, and yet people recognise the key role they play in delivering energy security and creating the revenues and high-quality jobs that are so critical to growing our economy.
“And, crucially, it will be these companies which lead the way in delivering the Government’s objectives in a transition away from oil and gas towards renewables in the years ahead.
“However, in the here and now, it makes no sense to pull the rug from underneath the energy sector by importing more fossil fuels at a higher cost and carbon footprint while we have reserves on our doorstep which can satisfy demand and a highly skilled workforce.”
The poll was released on the day the consultation on the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy and Just Transition ends.
In its current form, it has a presumption against any new exploration in the North Sea for oil or gas.
Mr Mutch said: “By a factor of seven to one, people across Scotland understand this argument — and industry will hope to see a subtle, pragmatic shift in emphasis away from a presumption against oil and gas once the Scottish Government reviews its draft energy strategy.”
The energy strategy also sets out what plans should be for electricity production, including what Holyrood wants from the solar power industry. At the moment, Scotland has about 400 megawatts of solar generation capacity.
But Thomas McMillan, chairman of Solar Energy Scotland, urged the Scottish Government to set a target of between four and six gigawatts (between 10 and 15 times as much) of electricity to be generated from the source by 2030.
Mr McMillan said solar firms in Scotland had “provided the evidence to show how we can deliver” that amount of energy for the grid by the end of the decade, but warned if the “target isn’t set, the grid won’t be scaled up to allow us to make that happen”.
“A solar industry on that scale would mean thousands of new renewables jobs across Scotland alongside lower bills for households and industry alike,” he said.
“It would also mean every effort was being made to decarbonise Scotland’s energy supply. It’s now up to the Scottish Government to make this happen and let solar shine.”
The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.