CLIMATE campaigners have criticised SNP plans to keep North Sea oil flowing for a decade after independence in order to tax the revenues as “environmentally and economically reckless”.

Campaigners have spoken out to condemn the plan for oil receipts to fill a £20 billion capital investment fund after Humza Yousaf confirmed it in a speech on industrial policy on Monday.

The First Minister had said: “The Resolution Foundation has found that in the 40 years to 2022, total fixed investment in the UK was the lowest in the G7. To kickstart investment in newly independent Scotland, we would set up a special fund.

“Our initial estimate is that we would use the fund to undertake capital spending of up to £20 billion over the first decade of independence. It would be financed through oil revenues and if needed borrowing.”

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At Westminster on Monday, the SNP group confirmed its support for the continued use of fossil fuels – saying oil and gas remain necessary in efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions.

However, Dave Doogan, the SNP’s energy spokesperson, condemned UK Government plans to grant oil and gas licences on an annual basis, saying new exploration and development should only follow “robust, evidence-based assessment”.

Liz Murray, the head of Scottish campaigns at Global Justice Now, said the SNP’s planned £20bn investment fund should not be used as an “excuse to bring new oil or gas fields online”.

Saying it was “right” to make big polluters pay high taxes to help in the just transition, Murray went on: “The money from the investment fund shouldn't be used for dangerous distractions such as carbon capture and storage but go to ramping up clean, affordable, renewable energy that can address both the climate crisis and the high cost of bills to households in Scotland."

The National: Oil rig

Caroline Rance, a climate and energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Scotland, said an independent Scotland would have to face the same realities as the UK.

“It would be environmentally and economically reckless to attempt to build a new country with oil revenue,” Rance said.

“As the world smashes temperature records and rising waters reach our doors, we do not have decades more of fossil fuels. An independent Scotland would have to heed this physical reality and deliver a fair and fast transition away from oil and gas to reliable, affordable renewables, just as the UK must.

“Climate science is clear that there must be no new oil and gas fields opened, and that oil drilling must be wound down.”

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Rance added: “An independent Scotland should be paying climate reparations for the damage caused by using fossil fuels, not pouring more fuel on the fire and trying to profit from the misery they inflict."

In 2021, the International Energy Agency warned that the development of new oil and gas fields had to stop that year in order to meet the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

However, the UK Government has since announced plans to “max out” the oil and gas reserves in the North Sea.

A spokesperson from the campaign group This is Rigged accused the UK and Scottish Governments of a “sincerely concerning misunderstanding of the severity of the impact of climate collapse”.

They went on: “Massive swathes of [Scotland], including a majority of our agricultural land, are at risk of being underwater by 2040. This means threats to food supplies, collapse of infrastructure, loss of homes and countless deaths.

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“We've just struggled through yet another record-breaking summer, emerging only to be battered by storm after storm which have devastated Highland communities and flooded half the country. The SNP claim to be ‘Building a New Scotland’ ... well, I bloody hope it can float.”

The spokesperson said that the idea of using oil revenues to fund investment was “certainly not in line with the image of a ‘New Scotland’ any of us want to live in”.

They went on: “This is Rigged are demanding that the Scottish Government create a fair and fully funded transition plan for Scotland's oil workers, in line with the demands of a coalition involving 1000 North Sea workers for retraining and a fair transition.

“The Government's current transition plan for workers amounts to absolutely nothing. It's time to get it the fuck together.”