THE UK Treasury snub of a meeting with the team behind a north-east carbon capture storage (CCS) project is “dismal and inadequate’, an SNP MP has said.

The team behind the project, which promises to deliver thousands of jobs in the area, asked local MPs to push for a meeting with Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi this summer.

David Duguid, Tory MP for Banff and Buchan, wrote to the Chancellor on July 26 requesting he meet with “key representatives” of the project, which includes the Acorn Project in Aberdeenshire.

But in a response four weeks later - August 31 – Treasury minister Alan Mak said the Tory government was “not in a position to offer a meeting”.

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A spokesperson for the Treasury told The National that “no major fiscal decisions will be taken until the new Prime Minister is in post”, but it comes less than 24 hours after Boris Johnson announced £700 million in funding for a nuclear power plant in Suffolk.

Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland has thrown doubt over the viability of carbon capture, citing a report which describes the technology as “wildly unrealistic as a climate solution”.

Richard Thomson, SNP MP for Gordon, branded the refusal of the Treasury to meet with the cross-party group, which included Tory MPs, as “deeply troubling”.

In total six MPs representing Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray signed the letter requesting the meeting.

Thomson said: “Collectively, north-east MPs put politics aside to ask the Chancellor for a discussion about the strategic importance of Acorn. To end up with a reply from a junior minister claiming they are ‘not in a position’ to offer a meeting is a thoroughly dismal and inadequate outcome.

The National: Thomson has criticised the Treasury's responseThomson has criticised the Treasury's response (Image: PA)

“After so many let-downs by the UK Government over carbon capture in the North-east, this apparent lack of willingness by UK ministers to engage with MPs – even apparently those from their own party – is deeply concerning.

“There’s no transition to net zero without the north-east, and the Acorn project is a crucial piece in that jigsaw.

“I hope that the new minister – whoever he or she may be – will reverse this snub at the earliest opportunity. The north-east can’t afford to be let down again by a UK government which only seems interested in our economy when it needs our resources to balance its books.”

Duguid hit back at the SNP who he claimed had “reverted to type, despite being given the opportunity to help in a positive way”.

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He added: “I have been engaging with UK ministers around this project since the beginning and will continue to do so — in spite of the SNP’s apparent attitude against the project.”

When approached for comment, the Treasury directed The National to parts of Mak’s letter, which read: “We remain committed to industrial decarbonisation across all nations and regions of the UK as we work toward net zero and are clear that carbon capture usage and storage will continue to play a key role in this process.”

However, it comes as FoE Scotland cast doubt on the technology which they described as “little more than greenwash for the fossil fuel industry”.

Citing a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) which looked at 13 carbon capture projects, over half of the total global capacity, and highlighted how many had failed and critically underperformed.

They found the majority of carbon captured globally had actually been pumped underground to force out more fossil fuels in a practice known as "Enhanced Oil Recovery".

The National: The cross-party MPs called for Zahawi to meet with project chiefsThe cross-party MPs called for Zahawi to meet with project chiefs

Alex Lee, FoE Scotland climate campaigner, said: “This research paints a grim picture of failure, underperformance and climate pollution right across the world.”

“The evidence is clear that carbon capture cannot be relied upon and is being used by fossil fuel companies to extend the lifetime of oil and gas. Even the Scottish Government has backtracked on its own predictions about CCS in its climate change plans.”

"With full power to determine whether the new Peterhead gas plant should go ahead or not, the Scottish Government should show real climate leadership by rejecting it when the time comes, and committing instead to the decisions that need to be made for a just and rapid transition away from fossil fuels.“

SSE and oil giant Equinor have lodged a planning application to build a new gas-fired powerplant at Peterhead, with developers aiming to add on CCS to the plant at an unspecified date.

IEEFA report author Bruce Robertson said: “Many international bodies and national governments are relying on carbon capture in the fossil fuel sector to get to Net Zero, and it simply won’t work.”