UK Government plans for Cambo oil field should not get ‘green light’, says Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister of Scotland has voiced her opposition towards the UK Government’s plans to develop a new oil field off the coast of Shetland

<p>Nicola Sturgeon has opposed plans for the development of a new oil field 75 mills from the coast of Shetland. (Credit: Getty)</p>

Nicola Sturgeon has opposed plans for the development of a new oil field 75 mills from the coast of Shetland. (Credit: Getty)

Nicola Sturgeon has said that UK Government plans to develop a new oil field off the coast of Shetland should not be given “the green light”.

The First Minister of Scotland made her strongest opposition towards the Cambo oil field while speaking at Holyrood.

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The UK Government previously released plans to develop the Cambo oil field in a project led by Siccar Point Energy.

If approved, the oil field, located 75 miles off the coast of Shetland, would yield millions of barrels of oil per year.

Sturgeon’s opposition to the oil field comes following pressure to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and coal at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Nicola Sturgeon has voiced her strongest opposition yet to the UK Government’s Cambo oil field plans in the wake of the COP26 climate summit
  • The UK Government has previously released plans to begin the offshore development which would see millions of barrels of oil produced per year
  • The plans have been controversial, with climate activists opposing the opening of the new site
  • Calls have ramped up for the cancellation of the plans after the recent COP26 Glasgow Climate Agreement highlighted the need for countries across the world to “phase down” their reliance on fossil fuels and coal
  • Despite calls to cancel the plans, the UK Government have so far not made a move to scrap the Cambo oil field

What did Nicola Sturgeon say?

Sturgeon addressed Holyrood after being told by Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon that “there is no rigorous climate change test that Cambo can possibly pass” before asking the First Minister to do “more than ask the UK Government to simply reassess the proposed oil field.”

In response to Lennon, Sturgeon said: “I don’t think we can go on extracting new oil and gas forever, that is why we have moved away from the policy of maximum economic recovery.

“And I don’t think we can go and continue to give the go-ahead to new oil fields. So I don’t think that Cambo should get the green light.”

It marks her strongest opposition to the oil field so far, having previously only urged the UK Government to reassess plans.

She agreed with Lennon, saying: “I have set out a proposal for a climate assessment and I think the presumption would be that Cambo couldn’t and shouldn’t pass any rigorous climate assessment.”

What has been the reaction to her opposition?

Many climate activists applauded Sturgeon’s strong opposition to the Cambo oil field.

Sam Chetan Welsh, political adviser to Greenpeace UK, said: “We welcome the First Minister showing leadership, listening to the science and saying no to the Cambo oil field, which has no place in the transition to Scotland’s low-carbon future.

“Hopefully this, on top of the many similar comments from scientists, energy experts and leaders around the globe, clarifies the situation for the Prime Minister.”

Mary Church, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, added: “We welcome the First Minister’s acknowledgement that there is no credible climate test that the Cambo oil field could ever pass.

“This is an important progression of the Scottish Government’s position, which must now translate into clear opposition to all new fossil fuel projects.”

However, the Scottish Conservatives accused Sturgeon of having “fully abandoned Scotland’s oil and gas industry”.

Holyrood energy spokesman, Liam Kerr, pointed out that abandoning the Cambo oil field plans was contrary to the oil finance argument that the SNP had used in favour of independence

He said: “Egged on by Labour, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that she is against the Cambo field and the thousands of Scottish jobs it would protect.

“By refusing to back the Cambo development, the SNP have deserted the industry they once cited as the cornerstone of their economic case for independence.

“Only the Scottish Conservatives are resolute in standing up for the livelihoods of oil and gas workers in Scotland as we transition to net zero.”

Oil and Gas UK external relations director, Jenny Stanning, said: “While we are accelerating greener energies to help ensure Scotland achieves net zero by 2045, we’ll still need oil and gas as those technologies are scaled up, to avoid the lights going out.

“Stopping our own production means we’d simply have to import it from Russia, Qatar and other countries at a bigger cost to the taxpayer, jobs and the environment.

“All identified oil and gas fields like Cambo are already accounted for in the net zero plans laid out by the Climate Change Committee, Oil and Gas Authority and Office for Budget Responsibility.”

Despite this, her announcement was welcomed by the Scottish Greens, with climate spokesman, Mark Ruskell saying: “She is absolutely right that expanding oil and gas is folly during the pressing climate crisis.

“That’s why with Greens in government Scotland is investing in the alternatives, expanding renewable energy and decarbonising homes and transport, creating new jobs along the way.”

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