THE UK Government has been accused of locking Scotland out of a key European energy group through its "arrogance". 

Climate minister Graham Stuart confirmed the UK was not seeking full membership of the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) group of countries in response to a question from SNP MP Alyn Smith earlier this week.

The SNP MP raised the issue in the Commons on Wednesday, saying Scotland should be a member of the group, even if the UK did not want to be.

The UK Government has called the criticisms "unfounded" and said Britain is not seeking membership because doing so would require making a commitment for all work done with the group to be in line with EU legislation.

Britain left the NSEC group as a result of Brexit but signed a cooperation agreement with the remaining members – including the non-EU state Norway – last year.

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The agreement commits the UK to meet with the group once a year to discuss subjects such as offshore energy production and sharing information on new green technology.

Smith said it was a “no-brainer” for Scotland to be a member, saying the country had a “key role to play in the just transition both in these islands and across the EU”.

He also pointed out that landlocked Luxembourg was a member, arguing this bolstered his case for re-joining the group.

Smith, who is the SNP’s spokesperson for EU accession, said: “Any cooperation with our close neighbours is to be welcomed and I want to see Scotland a full part of every co-operation framework going, but the NSEC is an absolute no-brainer.

“If even land-locked Luxembourg can be part of the NSEC group, surely it makes sense for the UK to participate as a full member.

“If it will not, how can it justifiably say that Scotland cannot be represented in its own right given its own longstanding relationships in the region and huge interest in marine energy?

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“Scotland has a key role to play in the just transition both in these islands and across the EU. Our vast resources give us a strong foundation to build upon and contribute to Europe’s energy security.

“The arrogance of isolationism by the UK towards our European allies is not helping anyone. It is high time that the UK Government stopped picking fights with the devolved governments and start working with them.

“As a future independent country in Europe, Scotland will look to accede in its own right to such as NSEC as well as cooperate with the rest of the UK in securing our shared, clean energy future.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: "These criticisms are entirely unfounded, as we are working closely with the North Seas Energy Cooperation members on areas of common interest.

“The reason we are not seeking full membership is because this would involve signing a political declaration stating that all work in the group should be in line with EU legislation, which is something we could not undertake as we have now left the EU.”