Former first minister Alex Salmond says the SNP has “kicked the north-east in the teeth” in a blistering attack on the party’s opposition to new oil and gas development.
The Alba Party leader claims his successor Nicola Sturgeon failed the region by “allowing Green politicians to effectively run the Scottish Government”.
In a video message broadcast on Friday, Mr Salmond said the “SNP government have been dragged into student politics” through its co-operation agreement with the Scottish Greens.
“Not just student politics of meaningless slogans but student politics that sacrifices and jeopardises the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Scots,” he claimed.
The comments drew an angry response from Scottish Greens who accused the former first minister of joining the Tories to “frighten north-east communities with negativity”.
The future of the oil and gas sector has been central to a heated debate as the government plots its path away from fossil fuels.
On Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon refused to condemn comments made by Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie who suggested only the “hard right” now support new oil and gas extraction.
More green jobs needed
Mr Salmond told Alba Party members in a video update that he welcomed the announcement of new green jobs at a wind tower factory being built at the Port of Nigg in the Cromarty Firth.
But he said there should be “tens of thousands of jobs by now” and that the country “should have a stake in every offshore windfarm in the North Sea”.
Mr Salmond said the timing could not be better to progress the campaign for Scottish independence, claiming Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be “lucky to see out the next few months”.
He also slammed the UK Government for having “betrayed Scotland in carbon capture”, which he said is “vital” for Scotland to meet its climate targets.
‘Trying to frighten north-east communities’
A spokesman for the Scottish Greens said: “It looks like Alex Salmond has joined the Tories in trying to frighten north-east communities with negativity.
“The grown up thing to do is to recognise the climate emergency and start a Just Transition.
“That’s why Greens in government are committed to providing oil and gas workers with jobs in alternative industries and have secured Just Transition funding for the North East and Moray so that transition can begin.”
An SNP spokeswoman said urged “politicians of all colours to get real on the climate emergency”.
She added: “Mr Salmond would do well to put the same effort into demanding an answer as to why the Tory UK government snubbed investment in carbon capture in the North East, which would have brought a share of £1 billion of investment and secured tens of thousands of jobs in the area.
“In the SNP’s manifesto in May we committed to delivering a Just Transition and were elected with a record number of votes to implement that.”
‘Fastest possible just transition’
A Scottish Government spokesman said “unlimited extraction of fossil fuels is not consistent with our climate obligations” and called on the UK Government to “urgently re-assess all approved oil licences where drilling has not yet commenced”.
The spokesman added: “We are clear the Scottish Government’s focus must now be on achieving the fastest possible just transition for the oil and gas sector – one that delivers jobs and economic benefit, and also ensures our energy security and meets our climate obligations.
“Scotland already has a hugely positive story to tell in renewables, which provided the equivalent of 96% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption in 2020, and our ambitions for the next decade include a 10-fold increase in installed Offshore Wind capacity – enough to power more than 8 million homes – and to more than double the country’s onshore wind capacity by 2030.
“A just transition must be delivered across all of our communities, including those that have a dependency on oil and gas.
“That is why we are undertaking a programme of work and analysis to better understand Scotland’s energy requirements as we transition to net zero, ensuring an approach that supports and protects our energy security and our highly skilled workforce whilst meeting our climate obligations.”