FIFTY MPs and peers have urged Grant Shapps in the “strongest possible terms” to block drilling at Rosebank oil and gas field.

Politicians from across all major parties have written to the Energy Secretary demanding a rethink of a reported upcoming approval of the UK’s largest undeveloped oil field.

The crude oil field, 80 miles west of Shetland, is expected to contain between 300 million and 500m barrels.

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Environmental campaigners have been calling on the UK Government to stop the development for months, recently warning that approving the project will be a “death sentence”.

And now, the BBC reports that Shapps has been told it would be “deeply irresponsible” to sign off on the oil field.

The cross-party group says this could produce “200m [million] tonnes” of carbon dioxide.

"This is more than the combined annual CO2 emissions of all 28 low-income countries in the world,” they wrote.

The National: Surfers Against Sewage in Aberdeen taking part in the Wave of Resistance protestSurfers Against Sewage in Aberdeen taking part in the Wave of Resistance protest (Image: PA)

The politicians also set out their concerns over the costs to taxpayers, who they say will shoulder more than 90% of the costs of the development.

Equinor, the Norwegian state-backed oil company, owns the site, with parliamentarians adding that the company could receive around “£3.75bn in tax breaks” if the scheme is given approval.

If the oil field is developed, the letter adds, it "risks putting the delivery of our climate targets out of reach" and may "weaken the UK's climate diplomacy".

The politicians argued that the UK would ultimately struggle to persuade other countries to reduce their fossil fuel production if it doesn’t do it itself.

Rosebank would do “nothing” to reduce household bills, the group argued, pointing to the fact that its oil reserves would be sold “on the global market at global prices”.

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"Approving Rosebank in the middle of a climate emergency would be morally obscene,” Caroline Lucas, Green MP and chair of Westminster’s all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on climate, said.

"If the Government refuses to block this vast new oil field, it will be complicit in this climate crime."

Barry Gardiner, former Labour shadow energy secretary, said: “It is the British public, not Equinor, Shell or Siccar, who pay to develop these oil fields.”

It comes after Tory MP Pauline Latham and former Tory international environment minister Zac Goldsmith joined the Climate APPG to call on the Prime Minister to attend international climate talks COP28 in Dubai later this year, as well as to reject Rosebank.

The National: Grant Shapps ahead of a meeting with energy bosses earlier this week in Downing StreetGrant Shapps ahead of a meeting with energy bosses earlier this week in Downing Street (Image: PA)

Signatories to the letter include the SNP’s Tommy Sheppard, Tory peer Lord Randall, former Labour environment secretary Hilary Benn, and the LibDems' energy spokesperson Wera Hobhouse.

Defending his decision to issue over a hundred new exploration licences, Rishi Sunak said previously: "Licensing decisions are obviously made the normal way, but what I'd say is that - entirely consistent with transitioning to net zero - that we use the energy that we've got here at home because we're going to need it for decades."

Meanwhile, Labour said they wouldn’t issue any new licences for the North Sea if they win the next General Election - but would honour any that had already been granted, including Rosebank.