Scottish Tories challenge Holyrood to back Cambo oil field plans

Party wants the Scottish Parliament to declare its support for the project and the oil and gas industry in general.

Scottish Tories challenge Holyrood to back Cambo oil field plans Getty Images
Scottish Conservatives will challenge MSPs to back Cambo proposal.

Holyrood will be asked to support plans for the controversial new oil and gas field at Cambo.

The Scottish Conservatives will challenge MSPs to back the proposal for further fossil fuel extraction from the North Sea, arguing it will protect jobs and reduce the reliance on imported energy.

While it is the UK Government that has the power to approve the drilling site off the Shetland coast, the Scottish Tories wants the Scottish Parliament to declare its support for the project and the oil and gas industry in general.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly dodged questions on whether she supports or opposes the plans for Cambo, but did ask Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “reassess” licences for as-yet undeveloped projects.

The Scottish Greens, the junior coalition party in the Scottish Government, have previously opposed the Cambo development and suggested Sturgeon had shown a “significant change of direction” because she has said there are now “significant questions” about whether unlimited fossil fuel extraction should continue in the face of the climate crisis.

In the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, the Scottish Tories will lead a debate on the future of the North Sea energy sector, with a motion calling for MSPs to explicitly support the Cambo project.

Liam Kerr, the Scottish Conservative energy spokesman, said: “We are bringing forward a vote on future North Sea projects, including the Cambo field, so that the Scottish Parliament can have its say on the importance of Scotland’s oil and gas industry during our transition to net zero.

“Nicola Sturgeon has already said future projects should be reassessed and Patrick Harvie has boasted of shifting the SNP’s position on oil.

“The north east deserves to know if the Scottish Government still supports this vital industry and the 100,000 jobs it supports.

“The SNP have a choice: side with the North East economy or the extremist Greens.

“They can either back a sensible transition to net-zero that limits the need to import costly energy from abroad or they can be upfront that they favour a radical shift to end Scotland’s oil and gas industry quickly, which would likely harm our environment.

“As the SNP used to shout – it’s Scotland’s oil.

“We are far better off using our own energy than paying higher prices to import from abroad, where the environmental protections are lower and the carbon cost is higher.”

In response, the Scottish Greens’ climate spokesman Mark Ruskell said: “The Scottish Conservatives clearly do not understand the meaning of the word transition.

“We are investing in jobs in alternative industries while the Tories call us names from the side lines.

“Expanding oil and gas production is the opposite of a transition, and it is misleading to the communities who rely on this industry for jobs and livelihoods to suggest otherwise.

“The UN General Secretary himself has called for no more expansion in fossil fuels, and the UK Government’s own advisers, the Climate Change Committee, told MSPs the case has not been made.

“It appears the Scottish Conservatives are willing to call them extremists too, rather than provide a real future for Scotland’s communities.”