Oil licences still needed for Net Zero transition – Swinney

Image caption, John Swinney was on the general election campaign trail in Inverness

John Swinney has said that North Sea oil and gas would still be needed “for a period of time” for Scotland’s transition to net zero.

The Scottish Government published an energy strategy last year outlining plans for a consultation on a “presumption against” any new oil and gas exploration.

On the election campaign trail in Inverness, the first minister was repeatedly asked if his government would avoid adopting this policy.

Mr Swinney refused to confirm, saying that the issue was “complex”.

The SNP leader also told BBC Scotland News that he wanted to have a “manageable” and “orderly” transition to net zero.

The future of the North Sea oil and gas industry has been a regular topic of debate during the general election campaign.

Labour say they would help create to 69,000 jobs supported by a new publicly-owned energy company, but refuse to approve any new north sea licences.

The Conservatives favour new exploration licences, saying both the SNP and Labour would fail to protect the industry.

The Scottish Lib Dems said both the Scottish and UK governments have failed to make progress on a fair transition away from fossil fuels.

Mr Swinney also echoed comments made by his deputy first minister Kate Forbes last week.

Mr Swinney added that future applications for oil and gas licenses must be considered “rationally”.

He said: “We need to accelerate our transition to renewables. We’ve said – and this is not straightforward – that we should have no new oil licenses.

“We have to ensure that our energy sector, which is very important, transitions as quickly as possible so that we realise our net zero potential.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ Andrew Bowie told the programme that his was the only party that supported the oil and gas sector in the north east.

He said: “Labour’s position on oil and gas is tantamount to economic vandalism and puts our energy security at huge risk

“The SNP’s position is about as clear as mud.

“This is a party that’s spent the last few years in bed with the Green party – who had a presumption against any new oil and gas licenses, who had every single member of parliament vote against the oil and gas licence bill.”

Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine said her party had set out £7.6bn plans to invest in renewable power and clean energy.

She said: “There are 100,000 people whose jobs are dependent in one way or another on us getting the just transition right and us moving to cleaner energy.

“We have to focus on making sure the north east of Scotland doesn’t become another industrial desert in the way the west of Scotland did after shipbuilding died and we allowed to happen in central Scotland with mining.”


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