Cambo should not get green light from UK Government, says Sturgeon

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The Cambo oil field off the coast of Shetland should not be given the green light, Nicola Sturgeon said (Jane Barlow/PA)
The Cambo oil field off the coast of Shetland should not be given the green light, Nicola Sturgeon said (Jane Barlow/PA)

The controversial Cambo oil field off the coast of Shetland should not be given the go-ahead, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister voiced her strongest opinion so far on the proposed development, saying: “I don’t think that Cambo should get the green light.”

Ms Sturgeon had previously urged the UK Government to reassess the plans, amid growing concern over the impact of fossil fuels on climate change.

But speaking at Holyrood as she updated MSPs on the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon said: “I don’t think we can go on extracting new oil and gas forever, that is why we have moved away from the policy of maximum economic recovery.

“And I don’t think we can go and continue to give the go-ahead to new oil fields. So I don’t think that Cambo should get the green light.”

However she stressed it was the UK Government that has final approval on the development, saying by calling for its reassessment she had “set out a process by which a different decision could be arrived at”.

The First Minister said: “I have set out a proposal for a climate assessment and I think the presumption would be that Cambo couldn’t and shouldn’t pass any rigorous climate assessment.”

Labour’s Monica Lennon had raised the issue in Holyrood on Tuesday, telling the First Minister: “There is no rigorous climate change test that Cambo can possibly pass, so the First Minister must do more than ask the UK Government to simply reassess the proposed oil field.”

She urged Ms Sturgeon to “oppose Cambo in the strongest possible terms and provide the political leadership that has been lacking”.

Ms Sturgeon’s comments were welcomed by environmental campaigners, with Mary Church, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, saying: “We welcome the First Minister’s acknowledgement that there is no credible climate test that the Cambo oil field could ever pass.

“This is an important progression of the Scottish Government’s position, which must now translate into clear opposition to all new fossil fuel projects.”

Sam Chetan Welsh, political adviser to Greenpeace UK, said: “We welcome the First Minister showing leadership, listening to the science and saying no to the Cambo oil field, which has no place in the transition to Scotland’s low-carbon future.

“Hopefully this, on top of the many similar comments from scientists, energy experts and leaders around the globe, clarifies the situation for the Prime Minister.”

But the Scottish Conservatives accused the First Minister of having “fully abandoned Scotland’s oil and gas industry”.

Holyrood energy spokesman Liam Kerr said that the move was a “desperate bid” to please the Greens, who are in a co-operation agreement with the Scottish Government.

I don’t think we can go and continue to give the go-ahead to new oil fields

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Mr Kerr said: “Egged on by Labour, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that she is against the Cambo field and the thousands of Scottish jobs it would protect.

“By refusing to back the Cambo development, the SNP have deserted the industry they once cited as the cornerstone of their economic case for independence.

“Only the Scottish Conservatives are resolute in standing up for the livelihoods of oil and gas workers in Scotland as we transition to net zero.”

But Scottish Greens climate spokesman Mark Ruskell welcomed the “clarity from the First Minister”.

He added: “She is absolutely right that expanding oil and gas is folly during the pressing climate crisis. That’s why with Greens in government Scotland is investing in the alternatives, expanding renewable energy and decarbonising homes and transport, creating new jobs along the way.”

Industry body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) said however that without the Cambo development the UK would need to import oil and gas from other countries – giving it a bigger carbon footprint.

OGUK external relations director Jenny Stanning said: “While we are accelerating greener energies to help ensure Scotland achieves net zero by 2045, we’ll still need oil and gas as those technologies are scaled up, to avoid the lights going out.

“Stopping our own production means we’d simply have to import it from Russia, Qatar and other countries at a bigger cost to the taxpayer, jobs and the environment.

“All identified oil and gas fields like Cambo are already accounted for in the net zero plans laid out by the Climate Change Committee, Oil and Gas Authority and Office for Budget Responsibility.”

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