A SCOTTISH Government minister has said that stopping all future activity in the North Sea would be “wrong” and could threaten the country’s energy security after Keir Starmer confirmed that a Labour government would block all new domestic oil and gas developments.
Starmer is expected to formally set out the proposals during a visit to Scotland in June.
However, it is believed that the party’s policy will involve a ban on granting new oil and gas licences and funnelling the money into wind and nuclear energy instead.
But Mairi McAllan, the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, told The Times that “simply stopping all future activity is wrong”.
She said: “The unlimited extraction of fossil fuels is not consistent with Scotland’s ambitious climate obligations but we also have to ensure a planned and fair transition that leaves no one behind.
“That means simply stopping all future activity is wrong. It could threaten energy security while destroying the very skills we need to transition to the new low-carbon economy.”
It comes after unions and industry bodies reacted with concern towards Labour’s proposal, with the general secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham, calling for more detail.
“When Keir Starmer decided to let the world know that he would halt new oil and gas production in the North Sea he left out everything that was important – the detail,” she said.
“Labour must now be very clear that they will not let workers pay the price for the transition to renewable energy. When it comes to jobs we can’t have jam tomorrow.
“We cannot have a repeat of the devastation wrought on workers and their communities by the closure of the coal mines.”
Gillian Martin, the SNP MSP for Aberdeenshire East who previously worked in public relations for the oil and gas industry, also hit out at Labour’s plans.
Speaking at an Energy Voice event, Martin said she was surprised at the “lack of nuance” in the announcement, claimed the policy was “too simplistic” and that it “would make people in the oil and gas industry feel a little bit uneasy”.
In its draft energy strategy published in January, the Scottish Government announced that it was consulting whether there should be a presumption against any new oil and gas exploration included in its final energy strategy.
But climate activists have called on both Labour and the SNP to put forward policies that outline exactly how the transition away from oil and gas will work.
Tessa Khan, the executive director of climate group Uplift, told The National: "The science is clear that we can’t afford new oil and gas if we hope to maintain a habitable climate, and the last year has also taught us that an affordable, secure energy supply also requires us to rapidly transition away from oil and gas.
“Labour’s position on the North Sea recognises this, and what we now need to see from Labour and the SNP are policies that can support Scotland to gain from the transition, including sustainable jobs and a thriving green economy.”