FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “deeply disappointed” that the UK Government did not commit to any funding for the Acorn carbon capture project.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt stumped up over £8 million for the Edinburgh Festivals and £1.5m for repairs to a bridge in Moray, a Tory controlled council area and Douglas Ross’s constituency.

However, despite “assurances” given by the UK Government and Prime Minister ahead of the Spring Budget on Wednesday, Nicola Sturgeon said that Deputy FM John Swinney will be writing to the UK Government over their “disappointment and frustration”.

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We previously told how the UK Government was accused of a "complete betrayal" in October 2021 after rejecting the carbon capture project in an initial round of funding.

It was hoped the Acorn Project, based at the St Fergus gas terminal in Aberdeenshire, would capture around 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and transport it, using existing pipelines, for storage in one of three depleted North Sea gas fields.

It comes as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross probed the FM on the £87,000 paid out to Ferguson Marine bosses despite the row over two uncompleted ferries, while Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar focussed on issues with NHS dentistry provision.

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson raised the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) assessment that found disposable income for UK households will fall by 5.7% this year and next, the largest drop since records began in 1957.

He added: “Does the First Minister agree that this damp squib of a budget goes nowhere near addressing the true scale of the cost of living crisis?

“Was [it] a missed opportunity to support households struggling to meet eye-watering energy costs rising again as the Chancellor ends the £67 monthly payment many households have relied on since October, [and] provides no help to businesses struggling with acute skills and labour shortages.

“And that an independent energy-rich Scotland would invest in carbon capture, ignored by the UK for a decade, reform broken energy markets and cut costs for households and businesses alike.”

The First Minister replied: “I absolutely agree with Kenny Gibson, firstly he's right to point to the economic forecast but let's look at what the experts had to say yesterday. The IFS and the OBR may be more positive about inflation in the economy, but it's still projecting that 2022 and 2023 will see the biggest ever fall in living standards.”

Sturgeon said that the Tories in Westminster were set to be in charge of the “worst parliament on record for living standards in this country”.

She added: “Can I say how deeply disappointed this Government was yesterday that we had no further clarity on a timeline for the deployment of the Scottish cluster.

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“We were expecting further clarity, we had been given assurances, I had been given assurances directly by the Prime Minister that further clarity would be forthcoming.

“So it's doubly disappointing that we didn't get that yesterday, the Deputy First Minister will be writing to the UK Government setting out that disappointment and frustration, and of course we'll make sure that letter is published.”

It comes as Scottish Tory MSP Liam Kerr attacked the Scottish Government's record on climate change.

Following a question from Scottish Greens MSP Ariane Burgess on the future of oil and gas in Scotland.

Kerr said the exchange between the two was a "litany of utter complacency". 

He added: "The Scottish Government's response to the climate emergency shows seven out of 11 legal emissions targets missed, 11 out of 20 biodiversity targets missed, six out of eight key environmental milestones missed, an annual peatland restoration targets missed.

"So after almost nine years of failing to get a grip on the climate emergency, does the First Minister believes that all, one or none of the candidates to succeed will do a better job than she has?"

The First Minister pointed out that the Scottish Government has been recognised, "across the world as being a leader in tackling climate change, and rightly so".

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She fired back: "It's particularly notable that we have done that, achieved that leadership status in the teeth of knee-jerk opportunistic opposition from the Conservatives to almost every proposal we put forward.

"Their hypocrisy is breathtaking because when we look at the proposals we've brought forward to try to encourage people to travel to work in ways other than in their cars or to recycle bottles and cans for example, what do we get from the Tories?

"We get nothing but opposition, but we will continue to tackle climate change with or without the help of the Scottish Conservative Party."

The FM also said that the extra £320 million the UK Government said will be allocated to Scotland does not go far enough.

She told MSPs: “While any limited additional money for the Scottish Government budget is welcome, it does not go nearly far enough.

The National: Gibson asked the FM about the Acorn Project in AberdeenshireGibson asked the FM about the Acorn Project in Aberdeenshire

“We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to deploy its full range of powers to support people, the public sector and businesses through the cost-of-living crisis.

“The Chancellor’s Budget yesterday was, disappointingly, another missed opportunity to do that.

“The decisions announced yesterday mean that this Government will continue to have a constrained ability to support vital services and provide fair pay rises."

Meanwhile, Ross said that senior managers at the beleaguered Ferguson Marine shipyard who received £87,000 in bonuses should hand the money back.

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Auditor general Stephen Boyle’s report revealed that six senior staff members received a total of £87,000 in bonuses in the 2021-22 financial year, without Government knowledge.

Ross said the bonuses were "indefensible" and a "failure".

The FM responded: "In that report, the Auditor General is clear that the governance involved that led to these payments was deficient, in other words it’s not possible to be clear about the basis of these payments.

“That indeed is why changes have been put in place, new arrangements have been put in place to ensure that a situation like this doesn’t arise again."