THE UK Government has been accused of making a “stunning retreat” from its posturing at COP26 amid reports of plans to approve six new oil and gas fields.

Reports in the Telegraph labelled "beyond belief" said the Tories were set to approve five sites in Scottish waters and one in the English southern North Sea before the end of 2022.

The news follows intense backlash aimed at the development of the Cambo oil field, which was ultimately put on “pause” by 70% stakeholders Siccar Point Energy days after Shell pulled out of the project.

The oil giant said the economic case for investment in the project was “not strong enough”.

Regardless, an unnamed Whitehall source told the Telegraph that Tory ministers were “resisting insane calls” to end North Sea oil and gas exploration and “pushing for more investment”.

READ MORE: Shell's Cambo exit signals end of 'Scotland's oil and gas age', Greens say

The Tory source claimed that without more UK oil and gas fields, the Government would “only end up importing more from foreign countries with dubious records”.

However, the Telegraph also reported that the combined reserves of all six sites are thought to total around 62 million tonnes of oil equivalent fuel, which would only be enough to power the UK for six months.

The Tories are looking to approve the Tolmount East site in the English southern North Sea, the Jackdaw, Marigold, Brodick and Catcher sites in the Scottish central North Sea, and the Rosebank field in the West of Shetland area.

The National: An Oil and Gas Authority map showing the approximate areas for exploration projectsAn Oil and Gas Authority map showing the approximate areas for exploration projects

Greenpeace UK oil campaigner Philip Evans said approving the sites “would represent a stunning retreat from the pro-climate posturing we saw from the Government at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow”.

He went on: “The International Energy Agency was clear last year, no new oil and gas projects if we want to prevent the worst of the climate crisis.

“Ultimately if we want to lower people’s energy bills and tackle the climate crisis we need to get off oil and gas and invest in renewables and energy efficiency.”

Danny Gross, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said the UK Government seemed "opposed to the idea" of being led by the science.

He went on: “The continued backing of oil and gas is a shoddy investment when the damage will only end up costing us all more later, especially when renewable energy sources like solar, wind and tidal are cheap and readily available.

"The real question is who this benefits, because it’s certainly not the public or the planet.”

The National: Mark Ruskell has called on Graham's to do more regarding noise, but they say his comments are uninformed

The Scottish Greens also hit out at the news, with MSP Mark Ruskell (above) saying: "It is beyond belief that the UK Government is even contemplating issuing approvals for further oil and gas extraction.

“Boris Johnson’s government continues to pursue a policy that is not only planet wrecking but also increases the UK’s exposure to volatile fossil fuel markets, which are pushing home energy bills through the roof as we speak.

“There has never been a greater focus on the climate crisis and it is vital that government pursues an energy strategy that is compatible with meeting the UK’s climate targets.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Live, SNP MP David Linden also called into question the Tory government’s dedication to net zero given its actions.

“You cannot have COP26 on your doorstep in Scotland and talk about moving on a path to net zero and then just blithely go ahead, as the UK Government are doing, with the kind of business as usual attitude,” he said.

The BBC brought on Zion Lights, the founder of pro-nuclear lobby group Emergency Reactor, to challenge Linden about the SNP’s stance on nuclear.

Lights questioned the validity of investing in either oil or renewables, instead arguing for “clean energy”. “That means lots of nuclear,” she said.

According to its website, Emergency Reactor had its start-up costs “covered” by Daniel Aegerter, the CEO of the Armada Investment Group. That firm’s website states that it currently invests in at least three separate nuclear power companies.

The UK Government has pledged to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and the Scottish Government by 2045. While the SNP have a policy against new nuclear projects in Scotland, the Tory government is considering moving ahead with one on the Ayrshire coast regardless.