Carbon capture project will help ensure just transition – Scottish Government

Environment Minister Neil Gray said he looked forward to a ‘much anticipated’ update from the Prime Minister.

A carbon capture project in the north east of Scotland will help to ensure a just transition to a greener economy, the Scottish Government has said.

Environment Minister Neil Gray said he looked forward to a “much anticipated” update from the Prime Minister, amid reports Rishi Sunak will announce funding for the Acorn project in Aberdeenshire during a visit on Monday.

The project looks to use legacy oil and gas infrastructure to transport and store carbon under the sea bed, and was passed over in 2021 by the UK Government for funding in favour of similar initiatives in the north of England.

The SNP said Westminster has been “dithering” on giving the project the green light.

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Neil Gray said the update was ‘much anticipated’ (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A report in the Sunday Times said the Prime Minister would announce millions in funding for Acorn, which is a joint venture between Shell UK and other companies.

On Sunday, Mr Gray said Scotland was among the best-placed countries in Europe to deploy carbon capture and storage technology due to existing North Sea infrastructure.

He said: “We are making excellent progress in transforming our energy sector and, while we have yet to see the detail of this announcement, we welcome the UK Government’s recognition that Scotland is at the forefront of the energy transition.

“The Scottish Government has been urging the UK Government for well over a decade to commit to carbon capture storage in Scotland and I look forward to this much-anticipated update from UK Government on the Acorn project and for much-needed clarity on the timeline and funding.

“The development of strategically located carbon capture and storage infrastructure in our industrial clusters in the North East and Grangemouth will protect and ensure the just transition for important domestic industries into a low-carbon future and protecting jobs.”

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also welcomed the reports.

Mr Flynn – MP for Aberdeen South – said in a statement: “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.”

Scottish Tory MP David Duguid – whose Banff and Buchan Coast constituency includes the Acorn project – also welcomed the reports.

“The confirmation of the Scottish Cluster selection for Track 2 validates what I have been saying all along – despite the constant negativity from the SNP who have tried to play divisive political games throughout this process,” he said.

“Their constant downplaying of this project, even predicting that it might never happen, has only served to potentially put off investors.

Rishi Sunak
Reports suggest the announcement will come during a visit to the north east of Scotland on Monday by the Prime Minister (Pete Cziborra/PA)

“It has always been a question of when, not if.”

The Scottish Greens – the SNP’s partners in government – said while there is a place for carbon capture and storage, it is “no substitute” for investment in renewables.

“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,” the party’s climate spokesman Mark Ruskell said.

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

“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.”

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