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Study reveals fears over Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP-Green pact

There is pressure for the UK and Scottish governments to deliver on vital investment to support Aberdeen in transitioning to net zero.

More than a third of voters think the SNP-Green coalition will have a negative impact on the north-east of Scotland, a new study suggests.

The survey by Opinium shows 36% of respondents had a pessimistic view compared with one quarter who think it will be positive in a region dealing with an uncertain economic future.

The findings follow months of fierce debate around the security of North Sea oil and gas jobs since the agreement between the SNP and Greens was signed earlier this year.

The research also shows more than a third of people either don’t know about the impact of the deal, or had not made up their minds.

Nicola Sturgeon was accused of failing the region by her predecessor Alex Salmond who claims the SNP has “kicked the north-east in the teeth” in an attack on the party”s opposition to oil and gas development.

No green light for oil field

Proposals to develop the Cambo oil field west of Shetland proved divisive.

The first minister eventually said the project “should not get the green light”, sparking a political fight about the region’s economic future.

The majority of overall survey respondents are against the first minister’s position, except for those aged 18-34 who support her position in higher numbers.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, now a government minister, was heavily criticised last week after suggesting only the “hard right” now support new oil and gas extraction. 

Speaking in the wake of Shell’s decision to withdraw from the controversial Cambo scheme, he claimed the Tories were now “isolated” on the future of the sector.

There is also pressure for the UK and Scottish Governments to deliver on vital investment to support Aberdeen in transitioning to net zero.

Nearly half the respondents agreed both governments should support the Granite City in its transition from fossil fuel reliance, underlying the need for a clear and funded alternative plan.

Just one-fifth think funds should be spent elsewhere.

Ms Sturgeon told the Press and Journal last week she is determined to give workers a fair deal in the move to low-carbon energy and jobs. 

The SNP leader said she is committed to supporting the industry and “securing jobs in the region for the long-term”.

She had to postpone a planned trip to the north-east due to the emerging threat of the Omicron variant.

‘Existential threat’

Conservative North East MSP Liam Kerr, said the results of the survey are the “result of Nicola Sturgeon abandoning oil and gas workers”.

He said: “The SNP have given up on the north-east, and now it looks like people in the north-east are giving up on them.”

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative MSP.

He added: “Together, the SNP-Green coalition represent an existential threat to livelihoods here, the local economy and public services.

“This realisation is spreading, and it’s reflected in these results.”

The survey, which was conducted online between December 8 and 15, reveals a total of 62% of voters think oil and gas companies have a positive impact on the Scottish economy, with just 6% thinking it has a negative one.

More respondents felt the deal would be bad news for energy investment in Scotland with 28% of those polled thinking it will lead to less investment, versus 19% who think it will lead to more.

‘Already investing in net zero future’

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our first Just Transition Plan, being developed as part of a refreshed energy strategy, will set out how the economic and social impacts of the transition will be managed.

“This will have co-design at its heart, meaning that, far from abandoning the oil and gas industry, those who stand to be most impacted by the transition to net zero are given a voice in determining their future.”

The spokesman said the government is already investing with a £75 million Energy Transition Fund, £100 million Green Jobs Fund and £500 million Just Transition Fund for the north-east and Moray.

Opinium surveyed 517 adults from Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highlands and Islands, Orkney, Shetland, Dundee, Perth and Kinross, and Angus.

The findings were commissioned by Braemar Communications, which is run by former SNP media chief and candidate Fergus Ewing.

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