THE SNP is not against new oil and gas licences, Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes has said.

Developments in the North Sea, though, would need to meet “climate compatibility tests” to be supported by the Scottish Government, she said.

It comes as First Minister and SNP leader John Swinney would not confirm whether his party would move away from its previous presumption against new licences.

While he previously told journalists of the need for a “managed transition,” Forbes has moved a step further, saying the party is “clear” on its strategy.

Speaking to journalists during a General Election campaign visit to Linlithgow, West Lothian, the Deputy First Minister (below) said: “We’ve been clear that we’re not against new licences per se, but they have to meet a climate compatibility test.

The National: Kate Forbes

“We’re very serious about meeting our climate change targets and obligations. We believe it is one of the most pressing issues of our day.

“But we also believe that it needs to be a just transition, which means you can’t leave workers behind and we also need the talent, skills, infrastructure and resources in the industry to reinvest.”

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She added that her party had “never said no” to further licensing, adding: “My position is that it has to be a just transition.

“We have to remember that that requires justice to be at the heart, not forgetting the workers like Labour will, with potentially 100,000 jobs at risk.

“That’s why I think this is about a process and the process had to be compatible with our climate change targets but, at the same time, it’s not about switching the taps off tomorrow.”

It is understood the Scottish Government’s new strategy will not be published before the election on July 4.

The Scottish Tories are set to raise the issue of oil and gas during a Holyrood debate on Wednesday afternoon.