Keir Starmer is preparing to block new oil and gas exploration under a Labour government, according to reports branded “pie in the sky” by a north-east business figure.
The row follows claims in the Sunday Times that the UK Labour leader will set out the plan in his net-zero energy policy in Scotland next month.
Labour is said to be considering only borrowing to invest in green enterprises through an energy policy it hopes will create up to half a million jobs in renewables.
Around 50,000 of those jobs would be in Scotland.
Labour would continue to use existing oil and gas wells over the coming decades.
But the suggestion of stopping new exploration was criticised by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce policy director Ryan Crighton.
He said the industry supporters more than 200,000 jobs and generates £15 billion for the Treasury.
“Pie in the sky strategy drawn up with zero engagement with the industry, or the region, that has been powering the UK for 50 years,” he added.
A Labour source told the Sunday Times: “We are against the granting of new licences for oil and gas in the North Sea.
“They will do nothing to cut bills, as the Tories have acknowledged.
“They undermine our energy security and would drive a coach and horse through our climate targets.
“But Labour would continue to use existing oil and gas wells over the coming decades and manage them sustainably as we transform the UK into a clean energy superpower.”
Oil and gas bids being made now
The North Sea Transition Authority recently held a licensing round for oil and gas exploration projects which attracted more than 100 bids.
Two oil fields, Cambo and Jackdaw, have been given licences.
Dave Whitehouse, chief executive of Offshore Energies UK, said: “Everyone is clear that the energy system must change; business and government must do this in partnership. Labour’s approach risks sending the wrong signals.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross claimed on social media: “First it was the SNP, now Labour want to abandon the north east and the thousands of jobs that support North Sea oil and gas.”
On Sky News on Sunday, Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth was asked if the proposals were correct.
He said it is not about “shutting down what’s going on at the moment”, but rather ensuring current developments are managed “sustainably”.
He added: “We know we’ve got to move to more renewable sources of energy, it’s important for our climate change commitments but it’s also the way in which we can bring energy bills down for consumers.”
In its draft energy strategy published in January, the SNP-Green Scottish Government said there “should be a presumption against new exploration for oil and gas”.
The SNP wants to make the “fastest possible just transition”.
Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has backed new oil and gas exploration.
Energy licences are under Westminster’s control.