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‘Nothing to show’ for £20m Just Transition Fund unveiled last year, says north-east MSP

A total of £20 million of funding from the £500m Just Transition Fund has been committed for 2022-23.
A total of £20 million of funding from the £500m Just Transition Fund has been committed for 2022-23.

The SNP is under pressure to reveal more details of £20 million funds to help the north-east transition from oil and gas.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced in her latest budget that £20m of a £500m Just Transition fund will be spent in 2022-23.

The cash will be used to help identify “key projects” in the move away from reliance on fossil fuel jobs.

North-east MSP Douglas Lumsden said there is still “nothing to show” for the fund, which was unveiled in August.

Agatha Christie herself would be hard-pressed to piece together the evidence available so far.

– Douglas Lumsden

The Conservative politician claimed the SNP-Green administration has been “unwilling to discuss its objectives or who will be involved” despite repeated requests.

A Scottish Government spokesman said SNP minister Richard Lochhead will hold meetings over the next fortnight to discuss the detail of the 10-year fund.

Scottish Conservative MSP Douglas Lumsden.

Mr Lumsden said: “Repeatedly, in the Holyrood chamber and in writing, the SNP haven’t answered Scottish Conservative questions about how this fund will be used to support tens of thousands of jobs – and whether it will supplement the UK Government £16 billion transition deal.

“Companies and employees involved in the transition from oil and gas need to know how this is going to support industry, or just end up being a token gesture.

“Agatha Christie herself would be hard-pressed to piece together the evidence available so far.”

‘Lack of detail’

Aberdeen City Council co-leader Jenny Laing has also criticised a “lack of detail” over the promised £20m. 

Speaking to a Holyrood committee last month she said there is confusion about the money being only for new projects.

Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing.

She told MSPs the money must go the “right areas” to ensure the north-east does not face a jobs “cliff edge” in a region where more than 65,000 people are employed in the sector.

‘Significant new financial commitment’

The UK Government announced a North Sea Transition Deal in March, which includes targets for the oil and gas sector to reduce emissions over the next decade, and up to £16 billion of government and private inestment in cleaner energy technology.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our £500 million Just Transition Fund – which we have repeatedly called on the UK Government to match – will help the north east and Moray become one of Scotland’s centres of excellence for the transition to a net zero economy, with our investment supporting transformation across the region.

“The funding announced in the 2022-23 budget will increase year-on-year as momentum behind the just transition of the region continues to grow.

Thousands of people in the north-east are employed in the oil and gas industry.

“This is a significant new financial commitment, and its detail will be shaped through working alongside regional partners to drive maximum impact and value.

“The Just Transition Minister will be meeting with key stakeholders over the next fortnight to discuss precisely this, ensuring the 10-year fund supports the creation of new opportunities across the region when it launches this year.”

A UK Government spokesman said the North Sea Transition Deal means a “joint investment with industry of up to £16bn by 2030 to support hydrogen production, carbon capture and other technologies to cut emissions”.

He added: “In the meantime, the UK Government maintains that we cannot turn off North Sea oil and gas overnight as doing so would put energy security, British jobs and industries at risk, and we would be even more dependent on foreign imports.”

Oil and gas jobs in Scotland: Where are they and what next for the industry?

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