Rishi Sunak to announce millions for carbon capture in north east – Auto Republish

Rishi Sunak to announce millions for carbon capture in north east

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The Prime Minister is expected to boost work on carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Aberdeenshire while defending the granting of more drilling licences.

Critics say CCS is unproven and money should be spent on renewable energy instead.

However Mr Sunak, who has signalled a shift away from green policies in the wake of the Tories’ surprise defence of the Uxbridge byelection over car charges, is expected to argue that both fossil fuels and renewables are needed for energy security.

The Prime Minister has said he remains committed to the UK achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but it should be done in a “pragmatic and proportionate way”.

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When she was First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon said there should be a presumption against new oil and gas field licences in the North Sea to help tackle climate change.

Her successor Humza Yousaf is considered more flexible, but is nevertheless committed to Scotland achieving net zero in 2045, five years earlier than the UK as a whole.

The push for a greener Scotland is also key to the SNP-Green joint government deal.

Kicking off a week of UK Government events on energy, Mr Sunak is expected to announce a multi-million pound investment in the Acord CCS project off Peterhead, a joint venture between Shell UK and other firms.

Supporters say the scheme could ultimately create 21,000 jobs, although past employment estimates for green energy have often proven optimistic.

Its backers hope it can store carbon dioxide from around the UK, including the Ineos oil refinery at Grangemouth, around 100km offshore in empty oil and gas fields using pipelines originally built to drain them. 

The land-based part of the scheme, at the St Fergus gas terminal outside Peterhead, lost out in an earlier funding round to CCS projects on Humberside and Merseyside.

That enraged the SNP, given Scotland’s historic relationship with North Sea oil and gas.

With the US massively scaling up investment in green technology, the UK hopes CCS will be a “game changer” on this side of the Atlantic.

The investment also plays into the politics of the general election, with the Tories hailing it as a benefit of the Union as they exploit SNP and Labour opposition to fossil fuels.

The Sunday Times today quoted a Government source saying: “This is a big deal for Scotland and will set out clear dividing lines with the SNP and Labour by showing that we are the party that will create the jobs of tomorrow.”

Funding for the Acord project will come from a £20billion pot announced in the Budget for CCS over the coming decade.

Scottish Tory leadeer Douglas Ross said: “The Prime Minister will be very much welcomed in the north east tomorrow.

“His visit is a clear reminder that it’s the Conservatives who are backing Scottish oil and gas, and the drive to net zero that the industry underpins.

“Contrast this with Keir Starmer hiding away in Edinburgh when he more or less promised the end of 70,000 jobs by pulling the plug on the North Sea.

“People in Scotland can see there is a major distinction between the Conservatives and the SNP and Labour, in Scotland and across the UK. 

“We are the party of energy security, job security and financial security. Their antagonism towards oil and gas is anti-jobs, anti-energy security and anti-growth.”

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, MP for Aberdeen South, said: “The SNP has, for decades now, led the charge on demanding investment for carbon capture and storage in the north east. 

“Any investment is of course welcome. However, the UK government has taken Scotland down this path before – and failed to deliver every single time, leaving Scotland’s green energy future in jeopardy. This cannot happen again. 

“There can be no more broken promises or delays. Now is the time to strike on Scotland’s green energy potential. 

“Having raked in more than £400bn from Scotland’s natural resources, it’s high-time the Tories gave back as it is becoming abundantly clear that our energy rich country is being failed by Westminster governments far removed from the needs of the Scottish people.

“With the full powers of independence, Scotland could finally chart its own path and take full advantage of our ambitious, green future.  We have the energy – we just need the power.”

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The Scottish Greens warned CCS remained “unproven” and that while it might have a future role in cutting emissions, was no substitute for urgent investment in renewable energy. 

MSP  Mark Ruskell MSP said: “There may well be a role for carbon capture and storage in the future, particularly when it comes to decarbonising industrial sites such as Grangemouth and Mossmorran which will be challenging.

“However it must not be used as a justification for more north sea drilling, which will have a devastating impact on our environment and take us even closer to climate breakdown.

“We cannot wholly rely on a delayed and still largely unproven technology to meet climate targets. So far CCS has overpromised and underperformed. 

HeraldScotland: Protesters at Peterhead power station unconvinced by CCSProtesters at Peterhead power station unconvinced by CCS (Image: PA)

“Carbon capture technology can’t deal with emissions from vehicle engines or gas boilers, and it must not be used as an excuse to approve Rosebank or any other new oil and gas field which we cannot afford to burn. 

“Irrespective of what is announced, it must not divert our attention from the urgent and immediate need to invest in cost effective renewable energy solutions.”

The rest of the Government’s “energy week” Includes an energy security roundtable with industry leaders and funding announcements for low carbon and renewables projects. 

Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last year showed energy security was also “national security”.

He said: “Since Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine the Government has driven Putin from our energy market, paid around half of a typical family’s energy bill and grown our economy by driving forward major energy projects,”

Shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband said: “Every family and business is paying the price, in higher energy bills, of 13 years of failed Tory energy policy.

“Labour will take no lessons from the party that banned onshore wind, crashed the market for solar, stalled energy efficiency, haven’t got any new nuclear plants started, and left us at the mercy of tyrants across the world.

“Labour is on the side of working people whilst the Tories line the pockets of energy giants and dictators across the world.”

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UK Energy minister Lord Callanan said the Government was committed to the 2050 net zero target, but the approach must be “fair and proportionate”.

Speaking to Times Radio, he defended any push for new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

“If we can get resources that we would otherwise be importing from our own supplies in the North Sea that employ British people, that raises money for the UK exchequer and it’s actually less carbon intensive than importing that through methods like liquid natural gas,” he said.

Jamie Peters, climate coordinator at Friends of the Earth, said ending the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels was the “only sensible and effective way” of increasing energy security.

He said: “This means saying no to new fossil fuel developments and ramping up our investment in renewables and energy efficiency.

“The UK is blessed with huge renewable energy resources, offshore and onshore, and we should be making better use of these for long-term security and economic prosperity.

“With parts of the world literally on fire, we need our politicians to show bolder leadership on cutting emissions – not more dither and delay.”  




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Resident-led action group seeking redress from the long-term social, health and environmental impacts from the Mossmorran facilities in Central Fife operated by ExxonMobil (Fife Ethylene Plant) and Shell (Fife NGL).


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