LESS than one-third of SNP voters support issuing new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, according to new polling.

The survey, conducted by the Diffley Partnership and commissioned by the just transition campaign group Uplift, further found that less than one-quarter of Scottish voters (23%) think that more investment in North Sea oil and gas will deliver a secure and affordable energy supply in the future.

The clear majority of Scots (67%) said that investment into renewable energy and efficiency was more likely to deliver secure supply and affordable bills.

The poll surveyed 2660 Scottish adults, 1136 of whom voted for the SNP in the 2019 General Election.

Among those SNP voters, 45% said that the UK Government should not be issuing any more oil and gas licences in the North Sea. Less than one-third (31%) said that they supported the policy.

The Tory government has said they want to “max out” the reserves of oil and gas in the North Sea, despite the International Energy Agency warning in 2021 that all new exploration must stop if the world is to hit net zero by 2050.

The SNP under Nicola Sturgeon had a “presumption against” new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, however under new First Minister John Swinney that policy is under review.

Swinney said over the weekend that there was “an exploration of [the SNP’s] position” under way, adding: “The Scottish Government wants to work with the oil and gas sector to ensure its fiscal sustainability.”

The Diffley Partnership polling further found that 71% of 2019 SNP voters want the Scottish Government to keep climate change as one of its key priorities.

READ MORE: John Swinney: Labour would cause ‘devastation’ to Scotland's oil and gas industry

Tessa Khan, the executive director of Uplift, said: “It’s clear that new licensing will do nothing to protect North Sea jobs and precious little to boost UK energy security.

“After five decades of drilling, the North Sea is an ageing basin with declining reserves that are expensive to extract. This isn’t about political will or policy, it’s a matter of economics and geology. Jobs will continue to fall as the basin declines.

“So why, particularly when so many SNP voters want an end to new licensing, is the party considering shifting its position?

“Oil and gas executives might want to keep making as much money as possible for as long as possible, but it's clear the Scottish public support increased investment in renewables and energy efficiency measures, over new oil and gas, to deliver an affordable energy supply.

“Workers are right to demand a proper plan that puts their needs above those of profiteering oil and gas giants.

“Instead of political jostling over energy policy, what they and the communities currently dependent on oil and gas need is a robust, coherent transition plan that ensures that the shift to clean energy benefits everyone. Workers need a proper plan for jobs, not a pipe dream.”

Dave Doogan, the SNP candidate for Angus and Perthshire Glens, said: "Scotland is an energy rich country and while Sir Keir Starmer wants to take Scotland's energy wealth and spend it on nuclear power stations in England, the SNP is clear that every penny should be reinvested in Scotland to reduce energy bills, create Scottish jobs and secure our green energy future.

"On July 4, vote SNP for a future made in Scotland, for Scotland."