Leading energy industry expert Dick Winchester has criticised the Tory government after the Chancellor withdrew a £1 billion grant for long-planned Carbon Capture and Storage scheme in Peterhead. The comments from Mr Winchester, a renowned industry voice who served on Scotland’s Energy Advisory Board, reinforces criticism by senior SNP figures in recent days, including Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP and constituency members for Peterhead – Stewart Stevenson MSP and Eilidh Whiteford MP.
The Conservative Party made a manifesto commitment to deliver the £1 billion project ahead of May’s General Election.
The shock announcement in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, was not communicated in advance to the Scottish Government – as confirmed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in response to a parliamentary question from Stewart Stevenson on Thursday. This is in spite of the project being set to create some 600 jobs in the North East of Scotland and having already reached an advanced planning stage by developer Shell.
Commenting on the decision, Dick Winchester said:
“The cancellation of the Peterhead project is therefore not just an immediate kick in the teeth but it removes an opportunity to both grow and broaden out the Scottish economy. That’s really unforgiveable.”
Welcoming the intervention, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:
“George Osborne has swindled Scotland out of £1 billion – a fact that will certainly not be forgotten in a hurry by my constituents.
“At the end of the day, this is a huge opportunity missed to create some 600 jobs in the community and to help Scotland make significant strides towards becoming the global leader in innovative technology to cut carbon emissions.
“The UK government is making a name for itself – for all the wrong reasons – in its treatment of Scotland’s energy sector. This week we saw a sneering Chancellor make light of job losses in the North Sea while he continues to do nothing to incentivise exploration and new development in the industry.
“The bonus billion we were promised for Peterhead was, it seems, just a bogus billion from the Tories. And with mounting criticism from senior industry figures, the Chancellor’s position on Scottish energy is an utter disgrace.”