The Scottish Conservatives are being told to “show up and stand up for the north-east” following the UK government’s carbon capture snub.
The region was dealt a major blow in October when the UK Government chose to reject the bid, which includes the Acorn project in Aberdeenshire.
The SNP’s north-east MSPs warn the “livelihoods of significant numbers of workers in Scotland are at stake” in a letter to the region’s five Tory members.
However, the Conservatives claim the letter is a “deflection tactic” and that SNP members in the north-east are “visibly shaken by their leader’s blithe disregard for 100,000 Scottish oil and gas jobs”.
There are wider concerns surrounding the future of North Sea oil and gas jobs, after Nicola Sturgeon voiced her opposition to the Cambo oil field off Shetland.
Fergus Mutch, the SNP’s former head of communications and research, is among those who hit out at Ms Sturgeon’s “Stop Cambo” message.
The SNP letter – sent ahead of a debate in Holyrood on Thursday – says failure to fund the Acorn project is “yet another blow for the north-east”.
It asks Tory MSPs to join the SNP in urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “revisit” the decision and “urgently deliver the investment which is needed”.
In 2015, the UK Government axed plans for a carbon capture and storage project at Peterhead power station.
The MSPs continue: “It is no exaggeration to say that by failing to invest in the carbon capture and storage facility at St Fergus, Aberdeenshire, the Tory UK government have utterly betrayed the north-east of Scotland again – having previously cut £1billion of funding for a carbon capture scheme at Peterhead in 2015.
“This is obviously a particularly hard blow for the communities in the region that are so dependent on energy transition.”
North East regional Conservative MSP Liam Kerr claimed the letter is nothing more than a “deflection tactic” in a bid to deflect from recent attacks on the SNP around oil and gas.
He claimed blocking the North Sea project would lead to “unemployment and more imported oil for decades”.
He said: “Thursday’s discussion will highlight what the key players in the energy sector already know.
“We’re committed to a fair transition for the oil and gas industry — we’re looking ahead in our discussions with the UK Government and urging them to progress the Scottish Cluster.
“It will be the Scottish Conservatives who will work constructively with the industry, for the best possible deal and timing for the carbon capture scheme, not the nationalists.”
Ms Sturgeon has already urged Mr Johnson to reverse the decision, which her government says shows a “clear lack of ambition and leadership on climate change”.
The Acorn Project at the St Fergus Gas Terminal in Peterhead would have taken industrial emissions and stored them in depleted gas reservoirs in the North Sea.
However, the Scottish Cluster bid was sidelined by the UK Government in favour of two schemes in the north of England.
Instead it has been named as a “reserve cluster” with it unlikely the project will come forward before the next round of funding in 2030.
A UK Government spokesman said: “We are committed to making the UK a world-leader in green technology, including carbon capture.
“The Acorn project at St Fergus has already been allocated over £40m in development funding by the UK Government in recent years, and we want to make sure the cluster can get maximum value from this support going forward.
“The strong potential of the Scottish Cluster has been confirmed by the bidding process – which is just the start. This is good news for the future competitiveness of Scotland’s industry, and we will work with the Scottish Cluster to help continue their development.”