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Oil and gas transition cash details due ‘in weeks’ after months of pressure

Two workers at jack up oil rig leg when checking everything in rig move operation; Shutterstock ID 369506348; Purchase Order: -
Two workers at jack up oil rig leg when checking everything in rig move operation; Shutterstock ID 369506348; Purchase Order: -

The Scottish Government has pledged to publish long-awaited details on a £500 million oil and gas transition fund in the “coming weeks”.

The Just Transition fund was announced in the SNP-Green coalition’s programme for government last year, with the first £20 million included in the 2022-23 budget.

Yet more than nine months on and there are still no details over how the cash will be used to support tens of thousands of jobs in the region.

Speaking at Holyrood, Conservative MSP Douglas Lumsden called on the government to provide an update on when the fund will be allocated.

He said “it appears that not one penny has been spent and is still sitting in the government’s coffers”.

Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur promised the details will be published in the “coming weeks”.

But in a fiery exchange, the SNP MSP added: “The member asks where the money is? I would remind the member it is allocated for this financial year.

“We are six weeks into this financial year and I really don’t think it’s the strongest suit for the Tories to go on the rapidity of funds being deployed.

“It took us six years for the Tory government to go from Brexit to indicating what the shared prosperity fund will look like.

“We are engaging with partners across the region, working collaboratively on a bottom-up approach and we will report back to parliament imminently on the criteria, aims and objective of the funding.”

The future of oil and gas exploration is under scrutiny.

Ministers say they have “engaged extensively” with trade unions, businesses, communities and councils over how the cash should be used.

The money will help identify “key projects” in the move away from reliance on fossil fuel jobs.

Former Aberdeen City Council Jenny Laing is among those who have criticised the “lack of detail” over the promised £20m. 

However, no clarity has been provided yet over what type of projects can benefit.

Ms Laing said there is confusion about the money only being available for new projects.

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