Prominent energy industry expert Dick Winchester has criticised the decision by Chancellor George Osborne to withdraw a £1 billion grant for long-planned Carbon Capture and Storage scheme in Peterhead.
The Conservative Party had earlier made a manifesto commitment ahead of the 2015 general election to deliver the project.
The shock announcement in last week’s Autumn Statement was not communicated in advance to the Scottish Government – as confirmed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in response to a parliamentary question from Stewart Stevenson.
This project was set to create some 600 jobs in north east Scotland and had already reached an advanced planning stage by developer Shell.
Dick Winchester said: “The successful demonstration of large scale carbon capture technology in Scotland could have been the catalyst to the development of a whole new Scottish industrial sector able to export services and hardware into what is a huge global market.
“In addition, the medium term potential for the Scottish chemical industry to build a product portfolio from recycled C02 would have been immense.
“The cancellation of the Peterhead project is therefore not just an immediate kick in the teeth but it removes an opportunity to both grow and broaden out the Scottish economy. That’s really unforgiveable.”
The comments from Winchester, a renowned industry voice who served on Scotland’s Energy Advisory Board, reinforces criticism by senior SNP figures in recent days, including Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP and constituency members for Peterhead – Stewart Stevenson MSP and Eilidh Whiteford MP.
Stewart Stevenson said: “Dick Winchester has significant experience in the global energy sector and his words chime with those of people in the North East and across Scotland who are rightly angry at the Tory chancellor pulling the plug on this crucial investment.
“This is a huge opportunity missed to create some 600 jobs in the community and to help Scotland make significant strides towards becoming the global leader in innovative technology to cut carbon emissions.
“At the same time, we saw a sneering Chancellor make light of job losses in the North Sea while he continues to do nothing to incentivise exploration and new development in the industry.
“The bonus billion we were promised for Peterhead was, it seems, just a bogus billion from the Tories. And with mounting criticism from senior industry figures, the Chancellor’s position on Scottish energy is an utter disgrace.”