A MAJORITY of Scots believe that the UK should meet its continuing demand for oil and gas by producing it domestically, according to a new poll.

True North, the advisory firm who commissioned the survey, said that this challenges the presumption against new oil and exploration contained in the Scottish Government’s draft energy strategy.

The polling found that 75% of people believe that the UK should produce the oil and gas it uses domestically rather than importing it from overseas.

It also found that 61% of the population think that energy companies operating in UK waters provide a boost to the economy.

True North managing partner Fergus Mutch said: “A number of assumptions about the energy sector are turned on their head when you get the views of the public at large.

“Energy firms operating in the North Sea have been much vilified by governments over the past year, and yet people recognise the key role they play in delivering energy security and creating the revenues and high-quality jobs that are so critical to growing our economy.

“And, crucially, it will be these companies which lead the way in delivering the government’s objectives in a transition away from oil and gas towards renewables in the years ahead.

“However, in the here and now, it makes no sense to pull the rug from underneath the energy sector by importing more fossil fuels at a higher cost and carbon footprint while we have reserves on our doorstep which can satisfy demand and a highly skilled workforce.”

But environmental charity Friends of the Earth Scotland said that the polling presented a “false choice” and that future oil production in the North Sea would in all likelihood continue to be exported.

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Friends of the Earth Scotland oil and gas campaigner Freya Aitchison told The National: “This PR company’s poll is presenting a false choice between UK fossil fuels and imported fossil fuels because the production of oil and gas needs to be reduced everywhere.

“Wealthy countries like the UK where we have the finance and resources, along with the historical responsibility for causing this crisis, should be getting on with delivering a swift transition away from oil and gas to renewables.

“Currently, around 80% of oil and 61% of gas from the North Sea is exported onto the global market.

“Any future production will likely be exported because it belongs to the companies whose sole focus is generating huge profits for their shareholders and bosses, without giving a damn about lowering people’s energy bills or the climate crisis.

“Grangemouth is Scotland’s only refinery but it imports much of the crude oil it refines from other countries, and then exports around 40% of its products.

“We need to break away from the fossil fuel industry that relies so heavily on imports and exports, and instead transition quickly and fairly to a system powered by renewable energy that is generated in the UK and returns benefits to local communities.”

It comes after oil giants Shell, BP and Equinor announced multi-billion pound profits earlier this month. 

True North’s polling also found that Scotland was split on support for the Holyrood power-sharing pact between the SNP and Greens with 36% in favour, 37% against and 20% ambivalent.