The Conservative government at Westminster has been told it must immediately “cough up” carbon capture cash for the north-east.
SNP Westminster Leader Stephen Flynn said it was time for Tory ministers to stop “starving Scotland” of investment after a “decade of broken promises”.
But north-east Tory MSP Liam Kerr said the Nationalists had “some nerve”, accusing the party of betraying the region by “turning their back” on North Sea oil and gas.
Last week, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed £20 billion of support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
However, concerns were raised after there was no mention of the north-east’s Acorn scheme.
Budget papers said a shortlist of eligible projects for the first phase of CCS deployment would be announced “later this month”.
Acorn decision a blow in 2021
In 2021, there was anger in the north-east after the Acorn scheme was chosen as a “reserve” and “back-up” project, with two clusters in northern England taken forward instead.
The scheme, based at the St Fergus gas terminal, near Peterhead, would use pipelines to store CO2 under the North Sea.
The decision in 2021 was viewed as the latest blow to Scotland’s hopes of developing the technology.
A previous BP-led carbon capture and storage scheme at Peterhead was abandoned in 2007, then a coal-based project at Longannet in Fife collapsed in 2011, followed by the withdrawal of funding earmarked for a Shell/SSE-backed initiative at Peterhead in 2015.
Mr Flynn, the SNP MP for Aberdeen South, said UK ministers must now invest in CCS in the north-east.
“After a decade of broken promises, the Tory government must finally cough up the cash for carbon capture in Scotland – and it must be delivered immediately, not years down the line,” he said.
Scotland ‘snubbed’ again
“Having snubbed Scotland for funding in 2015, 2021 and at the UK Budget last week, there is no more time to waste.
“The UK is already falling behind other countries. By starving Scotland of this much-needed investment, the Tories are damaging Scotland’s economy and holding back our potential as a renewable powerhouse for the 21st century.”
Further carbon capture projects will be able to enter a selection process for “Track 1 expansion”, to be launched this year.
Two additional schemes will be selected through a “Track 2” process, with further details announced “shortly”.
Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Liam Kerr said: “I’m very keen to see the Acorn project get the go-ahead from the UK Government, and there are encouraging noises that there may be an announcement soon.
“When it comes to funding, the UK Government has put £41 million directly into Acorn while the SNP pulled their illusory CCUS money.
‘The SNP has some nerve’
“The SNP has some nerve berating the UK Government when they have betrayed north-east communities by turning their back on North Sea oil and gas.
“That – coupled with their refusal to countenance nuclear power – puts jobs and livelihoods at risk and threatens Scotland’s energy security.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “We are making the UK a world leader in carbon capture, utilisation and storage and are accelerating development of this vital technology as part of our greater efforts to increase energy security and independence.
“The UK Government is putting £1 billion into CCUS through the CCS Infrastructure Fund and we recognise the strong role that Scotland can play in developing and expanding the use of CCUS – and the UK Government has provided Aberdeen £40 million development funding, and we remain committed to ensuring this continues in Scotland and across the UK.”